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St. Louis needs an Obama moment. Actually, we could use a few Obama moments. An Obama moment is an over-whelming feeling of good vibrations; a sense that there is more right with our world than is wrong; a sense of connection with diverse kinds of Americans; a sense that clear and complete sentences matter in public discourse; a sense that our leaders have an uplifting vision for the future.
I despise the notion of trickle-down economics but I embrace the possibility of trickle-down politics. That is what I believe is taking place at this very moment. Our new president is setting a new standard for political expectations. State and local governments will be scrutinized by that standard. Our governor, our mayors, our county chief executive, and our State Senators and Representatives are going to have to spend a lot more time on their speeches, both in content and delivery. They are going to have to make political appointments that overwhelm us with a sense that, indeed-the appointee is the best person for the job.
Local political traditions are hyper-partisan. Winners make sure there are no left-overs from opposing administrations. When the political landscape changes, pent-up frustrations while out of office usually translate into bad decisions made to even the political score. Here is where Obama moments can do the most good. Imagine our local politicians seeking advice from former opponents. Imagine local leaders appointing their political opponents to responsible positions, because of their ability to contribute competence and experience, rather than their ability to contribute funds.
It is still up to us to expect more from our elected officials. It seems to have worked on a national scale. Why not at the local level?
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Mark Shook is Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Israel.