#16 Courage to Choose Change

On January 31, 2008

Hello Everyone,

I think we – together – have an opportunity to alter the course of American history if, as Senator Edward Kennedy said this week, we have “the courage to choose change.” The courage to choose change.

In 1513, Niccolo Machiavelli, in his masterpiece, The Prince, described why it is so difficult for societies to change:

….there is nothing more difficult to execute, nor more dubious of success… than to introduce a new order of things; for he who introduces it has all those who profit from the old order as his enemies, and he has only lukewarm allies in all those who might profit from the new. This lukewarmness partly stems from fear of their adversaries… and partly from the skepticism of men, who do not truly believe in new things unless they have actually had personal experience of them.

Senator Kennedy was 30 when he joined the U.S. Senate; now in his 46th year, he is its second-longest serving member.

This week, he was passionate and unequivocal in embracing Senator Obama as the first one in over 40 years worthy of inheriting his brothers’ legacies. Senator Kennedy began by boldly stating, “I feel change in the air.” He concludes with, “My friends, I ask you to join me in this historic journey – to have the courage to choose change.” I urge you to read his speech, which is attached, even if you have already heard it.

I am also attaching Toni Morrison’s letter to Barack in which she endorsed him – the only time that she has publicly supported a presidential candidate. You will recall that she is the one who, ten years ago, anointed President Clinton “the first black president.”

As you might expect from one who received the Nobel Prize for literature, Ms. Morrison’s letter is not only eloquent, but elegant. A sampling:

Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb. There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal quoted President Carter using words that came close to an endorsement of Barack, while saying he will remain neutral:

He (Barack) has an extraordinary oratory…I think that Obama will be almost automatically a healing factor in the animosity now that exists, that relates to our country and its government.

I will close with a more personal quotation.

On Tuesday, I had lunch with a family friend who went to Grinnell and was a Rhodes Scholar. On his thirtieth birthday in 1968, he had lunch with Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the now legendary scholar, four-term Senator from New York, and U.N. Ambassador, who served in four successive presidential administrations, from Kennedy through Ford. A true bi-partisan. It is possible.

Moynihan was trying to determine whether our friend was worthy of working for him in the Nixon White House. During the course of a wide-ranging and erudite discussion typical of Moynihan, our friend vividly and verbatim remembers one of Moynihan’s insights, offered with a characteristically poetic turn of phrase:

America has within its gift to become the first truly multi-racial society in history.

Our friend recited this quotation with great emotion. I believe it captures best but one of the many ways in which we might “profit from the new” if only we have “the courage to choose change.”

Please pass it on.


adobe pdf file Click here to download this article in PDF format.


adobe pdf file Attachment: Edward Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama


adobe pdf file Attachment: T. Morrison Endorsement of Obama


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