What if, in the future, one hundred or two hundred years from now, it’s found that homeless people sleep better and live longer than do people who have homes? That once the science is in, once the data is collected and analyzed, the empirical evidence proves that the homeless life is the better life, is, in fact, the good life the ancient philosophers championed. And what if the idea of what constitutes wealth shifts from what you have to what you don’t have, what you don’t have being worth more than what you have and valued accordingly. Were these things to happen would it be like closing your eyes and thinking of the president of the United States and seeing Lincoln or Roosevelt in your mind, and then opening your eyes and seeing Obama and Trump instead?
We have accepted the notion that governing is difficult; but governing is not difficult, leadership is difficult, the difficulty in it embedded as much or more with the governed than with the governors. Governing itself is the least of the difficulty when the governing is done by a leader who leads a constituency that believes in being governed; when that constituency knows it has the absolute right to good government and the privilege of the time it takes to ask intelligent questions of leadership.
Of all leaders the mayor is intrinsic: I know this from personal observation, having been in a room with a mayor at 1 a.m. and seeing and hearing him take a phone call from a constituent, an insomniac who not only couldn’t sleep but who truly believed that her water supply had been turned off by aliens.
So what to do about drugs? And crazy people in the streets and on the buses? And the trash everywhere? The housing problem, that there’s not enough housing for average people and below average people, for people who live on a middle class income and people who live just above the poverty line?
The mayor seems genuine, even sweet, she’s going to make the city a better place, provide more beds for the homeless, safe injection sites and so forth. She says she can’t wait to look back to see what she’s accomplished. There’s no doubt her leadership is well meaning, for the good of both the dispossessed and the people in the room listening to her speak.
When I close my eyes and listen to London Breed speak I see that the notion of the sublime is a hoax that belongs to the arts and not to politics. If there is a sublime in politics it’s embedded in the notion of leadership, of a leader being believable to the ones they’re leading. The mayor, a young woman, gave a speech today: she’s intelligent, well educated, connected. I believe everyone in the room wants her to succeed.