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Dirty Harry Cleans Up

44_Magnum_MW2.pngLast night, during the halftime break of the Superbowl, Chrysler ran an ad that boldly claimed, “It's Halftime in America. And our second half is about to begin.” Sure, it didn’t hurt that it was narrated by Clint Eastwood, and invoked virtually every cliché about hard-working, blue collar values, but I swear I almost cried. I don’t think I was alone.

The commercial was a much about the economic turn-around in Detroit as it was about anything else, and perhaps that is an appropriate analogy for the rest of the country. The theme seems to be “Sure, we’re not doing nearly as well as we were a few years ago, but it looks like things are starting to turn around, and we’re going to be ok.” This is in stark contrast to Mitt Romney, who keeps saying that Detroit should have been allowed to go bankrupt because the magic of the market would have brought them back. Right.

I have spent the past few weeks talking with dozens of smart people all around the state and nation about 2012. Political partisans, non-profit leaders, lawmakers, policy analysts, lawyers, lobbyists, and journalists of all stripes, ideologies and beliefs disagree on many issues, but agree on one: 2012 will be the most important political year in at least two decades. Everyone feels that we are on a precipice, at a real turning point, and that the next eleven months will leave an indelible mark on the next two decades.

And I couldn’t agree more. You know why? Because for once, it’s not just us crazy liberals who are talking about inequality, the imbalance of political power, and the need to change the way we as country view many of our most fundamental values. For goodness sakes, Clint Eastwood narrated the commercial– does it get any more conservative than Dirty Harry?

Right in the middle of the Superbowl, the high holy day of the Church of Capitalism and Consumerism, Dirty Harry told us we all have a choice to make. We can choose to move forward, or move backward. We can choose responsibility, or we can choose vitriol. Were these messages delivered by a different man in a different place I would not hold out so much hope that it would make a difference, but I really think that a least a few people are thinking are thinking about these choices just a little bit this morning. If Clint Eastwood can be optimistic, maybe we can be too.

Go ahead – make my day.