Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Obama: A More Complex Understanding

Thanks to Thailandgal for alerting me to this interesting site, Reality Sandwich. I found a usefully cautionary article about Barack Obama there, an excellent analysis of the candidate's position elaborating on what I have described before as a "we" rather than the "I" approach that we heard in Hillary Clinton's promise, "Elect me, I'll get it all done for you." As Douglas Rushkoff, the author of this article, writes,

Obama alone (well, actually he, Kucinich, and Biden) presents a more complex understanding of the challenges facing America. It's a "GenX" sensibility, really, that depends less on emotionality and choosing sides than on a post-ideological clarity, and an ability to embrace seeming paradoxes. One can disagree with certain things Reverend Wright says while still embracing his message and influence. To the post-boomer audience, this is not weakness but strength.


The best thing about Obama is what appears to so many people to be his hesitancy. For many, it tarnishes his brand. As I see it, this is not lack of resolve at all but his greatest strength. He stutters and stumbles - but usually because he's trying to answer a question in a way that doesn't make himself out to be the answer to an abstract and collective problem. He understands that the presidency is itself a social construction, and that agreeing to "play" president is a mutual agreement - not a genuine ascendance. TV's West Wing may have done more damage to the Left than we know. It gave us undeserved solace during the darkest Right wing presidency in history, and created false hope of how much the White House could accomplish with the right leader in the Oval Office.

Amen. The bottom line is that Obama's election is not enough in itself to assure the change he's arguing for. We can't simply project it all onto him. It will require our work, our participation, our willingness to sacrifice. If those pieces are lacking, it really won't matter who's president any more.


Cardozo said...

Rock on, brother. It's the "we" presidency. Invest in U.S.!

I have this crazy idea to organize a march from Richmond, VA to Washington D.C. for the inauguration. It would be a march of ordinary citizens, symbolizing precisely this need for collective mobilization around a new kind of politics, appealing to a higher common denominator.

If anyone knows of someone who might be interested in helping me organize such a march, please let me know!

carly said...

From my collection of Cliff Notes of Wisdom:

on Obama's hesitation:
"One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds."

and Peter, for your Art of Outrage:
"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis."

and in regards to your poem:
"To obtain a man's opinion of you, make him mad."
Oliver Wendell Holmes 

PeterAtLarge said...

Good to hear from you again, Carly. It's been a while.

Cardozo, that march sounds good. Get working on it, sow some seeds...