Saturday, January 05, 2008

Barack Obama and the politics of hope


As a young boy I can clearly remember my dad cheering the victory of Robert Kennedy in the 1968 California primary. My father, like many living in Britain at the time, was part of what was then known as the "Bobby lobby". For him and countless others throughout the world Bobby Kennedy was the politician who appeared to offer the world a future where the values of justice and fairness would be predominate. Today many Americans - especially younger Americans - are of the view that the one candidate who makes them dare to hope that the US might once more face its problems openly, meet its challenges bravely, and go forward united as one nation is the Black Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.


Obama's appeal is his message that only collaboration can help make America everything that it ought to be - a nation reunited with itself and rededicated to its best ideals. He is passionate that government had to do things with people, not for them. in many ways Obama is a political cross-dresser who sees American politics not in terms of Democrat or Republican but in terms of progress versus conservatism and who sees the world not in terms of right and left, but right and wrong. Obama has long recognised that one of the the main reasons for people being turned off politics is because it (political debate) seems irrelevant to them, they feel that they are being manipulated because they are always being asked to make false choices: you're either staunchly religious or vehemently secular, pro-business or pro-unions, pro-growth or pro-environment, for civil liberties or against them, a progressive or a dinosaur.


The truth is, of course, that most people don't think like this, most people don't live their lives in this way, and most people long for a politics where we have genuine arguments, vigorous disagreements, where we don't claim to have a monopoly on what is right or wrong, where we don't demonise our political opponents. Most people want their politicians to engage in what Obama has called a "fair-minded" approach to politics; politics that understands that truth and certainty are not the same thing. Some describe this approach as the politics of the common good or perhaps more accurately, the politics of hope. Obama offers Americans the politics of empowerment; a politics that espouses cooperation not competition, the hand up and not just the hand out. It appears that the good people of Iowa believe that such sentiments are important - indeed they are worth voting for.

1 comment:

Praguetory said...

He'll have to step up from mood music to deliver on his aspirations.

"most people long for a politics where we have genuine arguments, vigorous disagreements, where we don't claim to have a monopoly on what is right or wrong, where we don't demonise our political opponents."

Suggest you check back through your archives to see whether they pass this test.