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The loyal opposition

It's too late for wishful thinking about the election. So I'm starting a secret society called the Loyal Opposition. Anyone can join. The only requirement is to keep the faith. To not lose heart no matter what the commentators or the neighbors predict.

The Loyal Opposition remains loyal to the vision of someday achieving "equal opportunity for all," "brotherhood from sea to shining sea," "this land is my land, this land is your land," "liberty and justice for all," and "one man, one vote," as well as "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

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If there's an antibusing law, or a lowering of the minimum wage, or a suspension of the ERA effort for now -- if nuclear power and military spending escalate while aid to the inner cities and preferential treatment for the disadvantaged are curtailed -- the Loyal Opposition won't go away mad and sulk in a corner or holler "foul" and shout epithets over a wall of anger. We will use all our resources to avoid the paralyzing polarization of forces that rules out sweet reasonableness -- that hardens into US and Then against any give and take of viewpoints.

The Loyal Opposition opposes the belief that a change of administration in Washington or in the boondocks can reverse our true course. There's too much momentum in it. Too much of social importance riding on it.

But most of all -- though the Opposition, we are Loyal, and so we trust that anyone with the capacity to get elected must have the wit to sort out the day-to- day problems. That, under the press of circumstance, yesterday's rhetoric is not binding. So we will keep reminding the elected of our interest in what's going on -- with pats on the back as well as arm-twisting and ear-bending.

We will keep checking the straws in the wind to see if it's blowing us to safe harbor. And reminding each other when we are over the shoals that there's been danger before and a tide to lift us clear.

Our secret society won't have any formal meetings on a regular basis.Instead we'll discuss our business around the dinner table, and in the checkout line, and at the water cooler. We'll know each other by the upbeat turn of phrase, by the lack of cynical remarks, by the practical helpfulness.

Since a country can only be as good as its citizenry, we'll pay attention to the condition of the family, the neighborhood, and the community. By improving its foundation across the country we'll help representative government in Washington move closer to our ideal.

Being the Loyal Opposition is a challenging responsibility. It means staying close to the action, even when we feel left out. Staying far enough away to not be a nuisance but close enough to be able to lend a hand if we can be of help. Assuring those in control of our faith in their motives, as Edwin Markham advises us:

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He drew a circle that shut me out -- Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout -- But Love and I had the wit to win; We drew a circle that took him in.

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