Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top 6 Reasons Why No Kid Hungry Campaign is Needed and Destined to Succeed

I’ve been struck by the importance of relentlessly reinforcing the key messages of No Kid Hungry and what makes it so compelling. Given how powerful those messages are, and how strong a case we’ve built, I thought I’d summarize my view of the top 6 reasons why the time is right for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

1. Record Levels of Need: In the aftermath of the recession, with unemployment at 9.1%, and persistent poverty, there are now 45 million Americans on the SNAP (food stamp) program and half of them are children. The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Report shows that the child poverty rate in the U.S. has grown by 18% between 2000 and 2009, with 15 million of our children now living in poverty. More than twice that number lives in homes where no parent has a full-time job. Poverty rose in 38 of our 50 states over the last decade. But you don’t need to memorize all of these numbers. Just remember the faces from Katherine van Steenburgh’s photos of her summer meals visit in New Mexico. Innocent children are suffering in this country and No Kid Hungry is one of the fastest and most effective ways to change that.

2. Effective Solutions Exist and They Are Funded: The most effective tools for fighting childhood hunger are the public food and nutrition programs consisting of SNAP, school meals, summer meals, and WIC, to name a few. 20 million children in America get a free school lunch, but only 9 million get school breakfast and only 3 million get summer meals, even though all 20 million are eligible. I call this Washington’s best kept billion dollar secret because school breakfast, summer meals and SNAP are entitlement programs with at least than a billion dollars untapped but available to close the gap between the number of children eligible and the number actually participating.

3. No Kid Hungry is a Win-Win proposition: Everyone wins when more children are enrolled in public food and nutrition programs. The children are fed and healthier. Our schools and teachers have students better able to pay attention and are ready to learn. Better students and better schools mean an economy that is more competitive globally. And federal funds flow into cash-strapped states to reimburse for meals in ways that stimulate the local economy, buying bread from local bakers, mile from local dairy farmers, etc.

4. Measurable Results, Historically and Now: The programs work which is why they have been around for more than 30 years, have enjoyed bi-partisan support, and are continually reauthorized. At a time when so many doubt that government works at all, this is a shining example of public-private partnerships at their best. And we can count increases in summer meal sites, increases in school breakfast participation, etc. as we have in Maryland, Colorado, Arkansas and elsewere, so we know when the NKH campaign is effective and when it is not. That commitment to accountability inspires confidence in our stakeholders and distinguishes is from other organizations and efforts.

5. Unprecedented Community of Diverse Talent: We have attracted an unprecedented diversity of talented supporters including corporate CEO’s, chefs and culinary leaders, teachers and educators, Governors, Mayors and other elected officials, entertainers, philanthropic leaders, social media activists, and grassroots supporters in the form of nearly 60,000 NKH pledge-takers. There has never been such a broad-based, cross-sector, multi-faceted coalition championing this issue. It is a formula for success.

6. NKH is an Oasis in the Political Desert: Children’s Food and Nutrition programs were not cut in the budget deal that accompanied the debt ceiling increase, and were made specifically exempt from the automatic cuts that would be triggered if the Congressional joint “super committee” fails to reach an agreement. As other essential services, especially in health and education are cut, the safety net represented by the child nutrition entitlement programs stands out as all the more vital an oasis in the desert.

Needless to say we still have a long way to go to make No Kid Hungry a reality. There are plenty of obstacles and potential pitfalls along the way. And we have set the bar high in trying to accomplish something so difficult that no one has been able to yet achieve it. That’s what also makes it so necessary.

There are surely many other reasons, in addition to the six above, why the time is right for our No Kid Hungry strategy. But the larger point is that an unprecedented combination of ingredients, some brought about by your relentless efforts and leadership, now promises hope to millions of American children. That promise is ours to keep.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Unique Role of Public Affairs in Giving Voice to the Voiceless

This weekend I read a brand new book called Lifeblood: How to Change the World One Dead Mosquito at a Time, by Alex Perry, Time Magazine’s Africa Bureau chief. It’s a profile of the efforts of long-time friend and Share Our Strength supporter Ray Chambers to rid Africa of Malaria, first through an organization he helped create called Malaria No More, and then in his role as the UN’s first special envoy for malaria.

Much of the focus of the book is on how Chambers used business practices to scale up the effort to distribute insecticide treated bed nets, and the many lives that has saved. It’s a good read and because it is published by Public Affairs which last year published my book The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men @ http://www.amazon.com/Imaginations-Unreasonable-Men-Inspiration-Purpose/dp/1586487647/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1303909402&sr=1-1 about the race to develop a malaria vaccine, and about the challenge of solving problems that affect people so voiceless that there are no markets for solving them, I think of the books as worthy bookends.

Mostly I’m so admiring of Public Affairs for having the courage and commitment to tackle subjects that at first may not seem to appeal to a large commercial market, and nevertheless publish them in a way that enables such important issues, like malaria, to reach a wider audience. It’s a unique niche in American publishing today, and a true public service.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sara Brenner's 8 common elements of successful social transformation initiatives

My colleague Sara Brenner, who is one of the leaders of Community Wealth Ventures, recently gacve a keynote speech at the Good360 Conference and outlined 8 common elements of the most powerful adn effective social  transformation initiatives.  I've excerpted her comments below as they are a superb summation of manmy of our learnings.

Element #1: Good is not good enough

Successful social change initiatives are led by restless people, those who are unsatisfied with incremental change. They believe good is not good enough.

Take the example of our parent organization and client Share Our Strength (which is an anti hunger/anti-poverty organization fighting to ensure that NO KID is HUNGRY in the US).

For a long time everyone involved with Share Our Strength was satisfied with their success except those leading the organization. Share Our Strength distributed hundreds of grants a year helping other organizations feed people, asked for little in return and was very popular as a result. Who could argue with that? The organization got plenty of good press and it kept friends, family and stakeholders impressed and supportive. The organization probably could have kept it going in that fashion for quite some time.

But they were unsatisfied with not being able to quantify their impact, and therefore to assess, if only for themselves, whether their hard work was paying off. They had no specific goal and therefore no way of knowing whether they were moving towards it. They knew what they were doing was good, but also sensed it wasn’t good enough. The organization plateau at about $13M between 2005-2008.

Executives asked themselves, we are feeding a record number of people but what are we doing to help ensure that they wouldn’t need our assistance in the first place?

They wanted to have greater impact.

Once it’s decide that good is not good enough, the leaders we studied set big vision for a different world.

This brings me to element #2.

Element #2: Have a big vision, but believable goals

To quote Jonathan Kozol’s the education writer and reformer “pick battles big enough to matter but small enough to win”. In doing so, you’ve had impact and can demonstrate real progress – and you’ll be believable.

As an example – in 2009 Share Our Strength refocused their broad-based anti-hunger efforts on a specific subset: hungry children in the United States. They realized it was possible to do more than just feed kids, that they could actually end childhood hunger. The linchpin of the growth from $13 million dollar org to $34M organization was a commitment to shift away from short-term incremental progress in favor of long-term transformational change. The former is easy and comfortable. It is the norm. The latter is risky and hard to achieve.

Billy will say that “establishing the bold goal of ending childhood hunger – not reducing, reversing, or redressing, but ending it – represented transformational change and more than any other factor has been responsible for the organization’s growth and ability to have greater impact”.

For an existing organization – this is a process of steering the ship in a new direction, but what about new initiatives that are not born out of one organization.

When we spoke to Scott Case the former CEO and current Vice Chair of Malaria No More (which was established to end deaths from malaria by 2015), he shared… When you’re first starting a totally new initiative, it may not be practical to state the end goal at the beginning. It isn’t always easy to see what the end goals will be or what all the milestones will be. And, frankly the second or third milestone isn’t always easy to articulate until you’re well into working on the first. But sometime you just have to choose a first milestone and get going.”

In their case – they chose dramatic reduction of malaria deaths in one region of one country.

What Scott alludes to is action-oriented leadership – proving that it can be done. This is the third element.

The 3rd Element: Be relentless about showing immediate action and progress.

All the leaders we interviewed are relentlessly action-oriented and goal-oriented. They make decisions and they move, and they are able to bring in a small group of dedicated leaders to drive the initiative forward.

In the case of Malaria NO More’s work– they brought together a great leader in Ray Chambers with other government officials in the US and Africa and offered a solution of bed nets. They showed it was possible to make dramatic change in a particular country and moved on to the next. Once progress is shown, these leaders convince others that success is within reach and not working on the issue would be crazier than working on it.

This leads to element #4.These leaders not only act but are exceptional focused decision-makers.

Element #4: These leaders make tough and unpopular decisions; and take criticism

The leaders we studied are laser focused on achieving their goals, using data to inform decisions, and makes quick course corrections.

An example of this is when Geoff Canada who founded HCZ set the goal that every child complete college. Many of you may know HCZ. The organization has accomplished amazing results with graduation rates among disadvantaged youth that rival privileged private schools. He proved that regardless of one’s environment youth can succeed, and has changed people’s thinking about what works in education across the country not just in Harlem. He is a reformer.

Several years ago, HCZ built an employment program to create stability in the homes of these children. When they looked at the data from their employment program, they saw that the people who were availing themselves of the program didn’t have children.

Geoff had a tough choice. Many people in the community liked the program. It was helping people but it was not helping to achieve the goal of children completing college. He made the tough decision to close the program. This takes discipline and a relentless focus on your goal, and it takes courage.

This leads to element number #5. Successful leaders of social change initiatives need courage for tough decisions and also a tolerance for failure.

Over and over again, leaders we interviewed shared that you have to get comfortable with failure to be successful. For them, failure provided the opportunity to learn and change and do better. If you look at many highly successful for-profit entrepreneurs they failed several times before getting it right. Walt Disney was turned down by over 20 banks for capital until he came up with his “Mickey mouse” concept. He recognizes it was these failures that made his concept a huge successful.

Malaria is no different, efforts in the 1920s and 1950’s failed. At one time, places like Sri Lanka actually got the cases down to 20 or 30 cases. But if 1 or 2 rainy seasons come without intervention malaria can rebound rapidly, and it did. In 1990’s people began to ask if we can eradicate Malaria herein US why not eradicate it elsewhere – and let’s learn from past efforts to make lasting improvement this time.

Failure can yield better results though the social sector does not set up systems that allow organizations to take risks, fail, learn and try again. We need to accept failure as part of the journey in transforming social problems.

Failure can result from many things. Often is comes from not understanding and monitoring your theory of change (or your product) to ensure you are getting results. Once you get this right – your set. Failures of some social change initiatives also often come from the complexity of the multiple stakeholders involved.

This leads me to Element #6 : Successful social transformation efforts are lead by connectors who bring uncommon bedfellows together across sectors.

It goes without saying that a critical element of social change initiatives is the power of involving individuals and organizations/agencies across many sectors and rallying them around a common goal. The number of people and parties involved in all successful initiatives is mind boggling from governments, religious leaders, nonprofits, and for-profits. In HCZ case, it was national funders, the hospital, a health fund, local funders, police, tenant association, and the clergy (which he emphasize were critical partners) And, it’s safe to say, that prior to these initiatives, many of these parties were working in isolation toward different goals, rather than a common one.

What is characteristic of successful change initiatives is that they have a leader with the ability to bring together uncommon bedfellows and build bridges. It takes many interests and a diverse group – and many people.

Randomly visit the headquarters of any ten nonprofits and you’ll find that at least nine have a poster somewhere on their wall of Margaret Mead reading “never doubt that a small group of people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

While inspiring, it would be better stated by saying “can begin to change the world.” Actually changing the world takes a lot more than a small group.

One of the critical operating principles of effective social change leaders is that they increase the number of shareholders that has genuine ownership for creating change. This not only means collaborating, partnering, forging coalitions, etc., but also giving real ownership to others so that they are working with you or even independently of you, toward a shared objective.

People are critical. This leads to the 7th element.

Element #7 “Successful change initiatives value investment in raising political will and communications as much as programmatic investments. “

Successful initiatives invest heavily in increasing the political will among the general public, and the savviest initiatives view communications as a programmatic function rather than just a support function. Scott Case articulated the importance of mass engagement. Their team looked for platforms where they could reach masses of people (Nascar, American Idol, etc.) and then figured out how to make their cause/issue relevant, and have people take action. Share Our Strength did something very similar by asking America’s to take a pledge for NO KID HUNGRY and to get involved locally.

At its most basic- building political will simply means that you’ve succeeded in getting a broader base of people to care about your mission not just those immediately affected by it. It means building some capacity to engage in policy development at both the federal and local level, share and advance ideas with policy makers and ultimately bring some political pressure to bear on behalf of your ideas.

In SOS’s case this was a big shift for the organization that had never engaged government before. This meant new types of staff, new processes, and new systems. They found that the investment is worth it because if your mission is big enough to matter – you’ll need some partnership with government to realize large scale impact.

This brings me to the 8th and final Element: Leaders of successful change initiatives are beholden to goals and thereby control their own financial destiny

Geoff Canada shared that early on they made a decision not to accept restricted dollars. That’s right – no restricted dollars. This is the dream of many organizations. His believed that if funds were allocated for specific programs, funders would become attached to programs, and if those programs were not achieving outcomes, he’d have to cut the programs. He did not want partners/funders attached to particular programs that were unsuccessful, and cause difficulty for him in shutting them down. It would be a huge distraction from their goal. Rather he wanted them attached to the goals and he wanted them to hold him accountable to achieving those goals. He worked to change funders’ mindsets. It also helped that one big funder, George Soros, agreed to take the risk and be the first funder, and others followed.

Financial instability is distracting, demoralizing and debilitating, and many organizations that we work with to become more sustainable struggle with small financial decisions that feel like they will make or break the organization. The opportunity costs of spending time that way is both high and corrosive. For many organizations this is the norm.

Financial stability is about taking control, as in Geoff’s example, and calling the shots. It’s playing offense. We as a nonprofit sector cannot afford to play defense for too long. In defense, you can play and hold the line for a long time, but you’ll never win just playing defense.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sounds of silence greet new report showing jump in child poverty

The annual Kids Count report just released by the Annie E Casey Foundation shows that the child poverty rate in the U.S. has grown by 18% between 2000 and 2009, with 15 million of our children now living in poverty. More than twice that number live in homes where no parent has a full-time job. Poverty rose in 38 of our 50 states over the last decade.

Given the unemployment and economic crisis, these statistics are not surprising. But what does shock is the lack of response to so many kids in jeopardy.

When our banks are in trouble, Congress and the White House act. It’s the same when its auto companies or insurance firms. During the debt ceiling crisis there was enormous concern over whether the markets would suffer. But when it comes to children who are the most vulnerable and most voiceless, a report like this is greeted by sounds of silence. Where are the White House summits with the Speaker of the House? Where is the legislation that could help children?

This type of poverty is not just an economic issue. It’s a political issue as well. These children don’t belong to organizations, make campaign contributions, or have lobbyists. The result: their needs are not heard – and don’t make it onto the national agenda.

We can’t expect others to lead for us when it comes to changing the political climate. What are you doing to press policymakers for a response? At Share Our Strength we are working with governors across the country to ensure that they at least do everything possible to enroll more children in vital food and nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals. That is necessary but not sufficient. Is your nonprofit urging policymakers to do something about child poverty? If not, no matter how much good you are doing, it may not be good enough.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Washington is not just out of money, it is out of big and bold ideas

The stock market continues to plummet. Unemployment is stubbornly stuck above 9 per cent. A record 45 million Americans are on food stamps for the first time in U.S. history. The median wealth of white households is now 20 times that of black households. The debt ceiling legislation underscores Congress’s unwillingness to make the tough choices necessary to get our budget under control.

One is tempted to ask how so many bad things could be happening at once. But the real question is: how could they not? Because these are not randomly coinciding unfortunate events. As is often the case they are inextricably interconnected as symptoms of a deeper problem. That problem has to do with a political agenda that is set by and centers on the needs of the influential and elite.

Did it really take the stock market dropping 1000 points and losing 15% of its value for the light bulb to go off that when nearly a fifth of the nation’s adults are out of work or have quit looking they are unlikely to have the money to buy the kinds of things that cause businesses to expand and leads to economic growth?

One of Washington’s iron laws is that nature abhors a vacuum, and its corollary is that you can’t beat something with nothing. The President came to the podium yesterday, in the midst of Wall Street’s precipitous plunge, and sought to counter it with nothing more than platitudes. Instead of reassuring he inadvertently showed a hand that held no aces, and the effect was just the opposite of what was intended.

Washington is not just out of money, it is out of big ideas. Or perhaps worse, it lacks the courage to put forth big ideas that may seem unfashionable in the prevailing political climate.

Given the enormously complex economic issues facing our country, our challenge of ending childhood hunger begins to look manageable by comparison. And in a way it is, especially since the programs are in place to achieve it, and the need is so basic as to be undeniable. But the deep hole we’ve dug for our economy means the forces of gravity must be surmounted at the same time. That means we must multi-task – executing our No Kid Hungry campaign with focus and determination – but also getting behind bold new ideas to move our economy forward.

Monday, August 8, 2011

In Reducing the Federal Budget we have Reduced the National Imagination

There is a shockingly large inverse correlation between the number of pundits and politicians now saying that Obama should focus on jobs, and the small number of ideas being put forth to actually create them. One reason we hear so few specific big ideas about creating jobs is that to do so on the scale necessary to impact 9.1% unemployment would require an enormously ambitious and probably expensive agenda. Of the many negative consequences of the debt ceiling debacle, perhaps the greatest of all has been the national accommodation and acclimation to thinking small.

But that’s where presidential leadership is supposed to come in. Presidents are elected and paid to think bigger than the rest of us – to not be constrained by petty political considerations – even given the reality of the political environment in which their operate. From Lincoln to FDR, from Nixon to Reagan, we’ve seen presidents take risks when the stakes were high. President Obama needs to do more than call for a renewed focus on job creation as he did in his weekend radio address. He needs to put forth ideas on the scale that the problem exists, to show what our nation needs to do, not just center the debate around what some believe we can afford to do.

In reducing the federal budget we have also reduced the national imagination. The political failure we are witnessing today is not just a failure of fiscal discipline or of political civility, or even of long-range thinking. It is a failure of imagination. As I learned in writing The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men (@ http://ow.ly/5XC58 ) that is what most failures are really all about.

Of course presidents don’t have a monopoly on big ideas. Other policymakers, academics and advocates have a responsibility to step up as well. Enough cowering under the covers as unfavorable political winds blow. Let’s debate what we’d like to do, and then we can talk about whether it is worth the price. Our politicians might be surprised to learn just how much most Americans, who are more used to sacrifice than the elites, are willing to do to get this country working again.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Falling stocks and the need to create community wealth

When the stock market drops by more than 500 points as it did yesterday, it is not only bad for the many companies who lost value, it is also bad for the endowments of the foundations that fund many of our grant recipients at Share Our Strength. During the last market turndown, foundations ranging from Annie E. Casey to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation saw their endowments shrink by double digit percentages.

The fragility of our economy underscores the need for nonprofits to diversify their revenues, and to not be completely dependent on traditional philanthropic giving.

The conventional wisdom was that if Congress did not agree to a debt ceiling deal the markets would react negatively. Despite everyone’s unhappiness with the substance, there was relief and self-congratulation on Capitol Hill when the deal was reached.

So why did the markets react so negatively anyway? Unfortunately it did not occur to the politicians who are so acclimated to political spin, that achieving a deal in name only, especially one that kicked down the road the tough decisions to yet another commission, would not be enough to reassure investors whose livelihoods are at stake.

It’s also a deal that threatens to tear at some of the basic fabric of American society: programs like WIC, Medicaid, the military while it is fighting two wars, and the unknown of potential across the board cuts in all government agencies. Our political system is failing to create either community or wealth. But putting them together, by aspiring to create community wealth as we do at CWV and Share Our Strength, may be the best way forward for our nation.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

forgetting the unforgettable

Yesterday a wise friend and accomplished leader in the New York business community wrote the following in response to my Washington Post article about famine in the Horn of Africa (@ http://ow.ly/5UYXP ) “The juxtaposition of the concentration of personal wealth with the increasing poverty and desperation of so many is more and more startling every day. It is clear that American politics today is dominated by greed with only a camera-ready nod toward compassion when it serves greed’s purpose."

I thought of his words while reading this morning’s NY Times. On Monday the Times had unforgettable images of suffering children from Somalia on page one, but today there is nothing to be found in the paper about this enormous ongoing catastrophe except a one paragraph AP wire service story buried inside. Page one instead has a photo of Louis Vuitton shoes being sold at Bergdorf Goodman for $1,495 a pair.

So the world inexorably moves on, even past the most horrific suffering, or perhaps especially past the most horrific suffering. The Czech author Milan Kundera wrote in 1979 in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting: “The bloody massacre in Bangladesh quickly covered over the memory of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the assassination of Allende drowned out the groans of Bangladesh, the war in the Sinai Desert made people forget Allende, the Cambodian massacre made people forget Sinai and so on and so forth, until ultimately everyone lets everything be forgotten.”

That is the way of the world. But it need not be the way of the world we strive to achieve. Thanks to all at Share Our Strength who for nearly three decades have found a way to keep remembering, keep bearing witness, keep caring and organizing to bring change on behalf of those most vulnerable and voiceless.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why the Debt Ceiling Deal Makes Our No Kid Hungry Strategy More Important

I have received several inquiries as to how the debt ceiling deal and proposed federal budget cuts will affect our No Kid Hungry strategy. Most people assume it will make our work harder. In the broad sense that is likely to be the case, especially because the nation’s economic growth is much slower than expected and the mandated budget cuts are unlikely to change that. Also, some important hunger programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant and Children (WIC) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program face potential cuts.

But while there is not much in the deal to be happy about, there are some rays of light regarding the specific anti-hunger and child nutrition programs that are core to our No Kid Hungry campaign strategy. Here are three examples:

First, the entitlement programs that are the focus of our efforts to enroll more children: e.g. school breakfast, summer meals, and food stamps are not included in the proposed cuts. Although that could change in the future, this means everything we are doing in our No Kid Hungry state campaigns has as great a potential as ever to dramatically reduce and eventually end childhood hunger.

Second, the debt ceiling package reflects an implicit bi-partisan endorsement of our strategy which is based on the conviction that these programs work, they protect those most vulnerable and least responsible for their situation, and that they should be protected even when the economy and the political climate change – perhaps especially when the economy and political climate change.

Third, the legislative cuts in non-entitlement discretionary spending makes our strategy all of the more necessary and important. As other essential services, especially in health and education are cut, the safety net represented by the child nutrition entitlement programs stands out as all the more vital an oasis in the desert.

So we are more determined than ever to expand our No Kid Hungry campaign, with a renewed sense of urgency, to protect more children by ensuring they are enrolled in programs available where they live learn and play. I hope you will join our efforts to advocate for the vital role these programs play and to protect them from cuts, especially as the new Congressional Joint Committee debates their future.

Share Our Strength board member Bob Greenstein, the director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, has an analysis of the policy implications of the debt ceiling deal on the Center’s website @ http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3555

Monday, August 1, 2011

Avoiding the Truth: The Hypocrisy of Debt Ceiling Deals and Bad Marriages

The debt ceiling deal has exposed our political system to be a lot like a bad marriage that perpetuates itself only when both parties to it tacitly agree to keep the relationship wholly superficial and at all costs avoid confronting the truth. It requires not only duplicity, but pretense, cynicism, hypocrisy, and a near complete abandonment of hope.

The details of the debt ceiling agreement are convoluted, upon which the illusion of substantive progress depends. But in fact most of the hard work has been left to the future, and that time-honored political dodge – a commission. As in a bad marriage there is so little confidence of it improving that even future action to reduce federal spending is predicated on automatic triggers rather than thoughtful deliberation.

Most observers would not have thought it possible for politicians to abdicate their responsibilities, let alone their principles, even further than they had over the past few weeks of negotiations. But with the final deal they managed to create a living monument to such cowardice.

The weak smiles of Senators Harry Reid and Charles Schumer walking through a Capitol corridor and captured on the front page of many papers the day the deal was done, betrayed the embarrassment of leading a party that has evolved, at least for now, into a paler, weaker version of their Republican counterpart. And President Obama, who put getting a deal ahead of his own once eloquently stated ideals, has unintentionally shown us just how much audacity it does take to continue to hope.