Friday, June 01, 2007

The Audacity of Hope

I decided to read The Audacity of Hope because in general I believed I supported Barack Obama. I say believed because I was basing my beliefs on interviews I'd seen with him or news stories I'd read, that kind of thing, and I believe that this next election is going to be a hairy one....and by "next election" I'm talking about the primaries, LOL. I decided that if I'm going to support Obama 100% that I needed to read his own words, his words that were written before he put in his formal bid for the presidency, so I could see what he was like "before" - you know, before the campaign trail. While Barack Obama managed to infiltrate my dreams (Jam thinks in some sort of sexual way, LOL, but let me more than assure this was NOT the case - in the dream we had LUNCH!!! Jeeez) I wanted to be sure that I KNEW him knew him and that he wasn't just that candidate I saw a couple of interviews with and decided that he was an ok guy.

I am 121 pages into The Audacity of Hope and to quote a Tom Cruise movie that was popular at one time and now only seems corny he "had me at hello." hahahahahahahahha. Ok, Obama didn't have me have me at Hello, it was more like on page 10 when he said this in his prologue:

I suspect that some readers may find my presentation of these issues to be insufficiently balanced. To this accusation, I stand guilty as charged. I am a Democrat, after all' my views on most topics correspond more closely to the editorial pages of the New York Times than those of the Wall Street Journal. I am angry about policies that consistently favor the wealth and powerful over average Americans, and insist that government has an important role in opening up opportunity to all. I believe in evolution, scientific inquiry, and global warming; I believe in free speech, whether politically correct or politically incorrect, and I am suspicious of using government to impose anybody's religious beliefs--including my own--on nonbelievers. Furthermore, I am a prisoner of my own biography: I can't help but view the American experience through the lens of a black man of mixed heritage, forever mindful of how generations of people who looked like me were subjugated and stigmatized, and the subtle and not so subtle ways that race and class continue to shape our lives.
But that is not all that I am. I also think my party can be smug, detached and dogmatic at times. I believe in the free market, competition, and entrepreneurship, and think no small number of government programs don't work as advertised. I wish the country had fewer lawyers and more engineers. I think America has more often been a force for good than for ill in the world' I carry few illusions about our enemies, and revere the courage and competence of our military. I reject a politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally. I think much of what ails the inner city involves a breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP.
Undoubtedly, some of these views will get me in trouble. I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views. As such, I am bound to disappoint some, if not all, of them. Which perhaps indicates a second, more intimate theme to this book--namely, how I, or anybody in public office, can avoid the pitfalls of fame, the hunger to please, the fear of loss, and thereby retain that kernel of truth, that singular voice within each of us that reminds us of our deepest commitments.

Oh, Obama, you had me at "I suspect." *licks front cover of book, puts under pillow, pulls up covers* Just kidding. Kind of. No really, just kidding, though I won't deny that that was my instinct when I read the above paragraphs - finally a politician who I believe and whose beliefs align with my own pretty much exactly, except for that whole NYT thing because I think those people are condescending as hell, LOL.

In the interest of fairness, I will do more research about Hil. HRC is the only other Dem I think I'd be able to consider. I can't stomach John Edwards, plus I think the nomination is going to be either Barack's or Hil's. Of course the result of the primaries could be devastating and knowing my luck I'd be sitting in a booth on election day trying to figure out if I should vote for Edwards or not vote at all because my other choice is Rudy Guiliani (writes self note to research John Edwards). Eeeeh. But yes, I, the white Massachusetts women's college educated female who supports the bright black male candidate raised in the city will research Hillary if only out of love and support for my other half, a very bright black male raised in the city who supports the white female Massachusetts women's college educated candidate. Oh how psychologists would have a field day with us, ha. I doubt my mind will change, but hey, I'm all about equality.

A final thing - even if you've heard about Barack Obama and think "never in a million years would he receive my vote" pick up his book - you might be very surprised what you read. I braced myself for things such as Republican-bashing and Bush-bashing, two things I find as effective in inciting change as farting into the wind, and trust me, I've done that enough to know that not much happens when you do that-your basically left with something stinky, but I find that it doesn't exist in this book; what exists instead is logical and well-though criticism. This book contain rational discussions about both parties, equal critique, as well as the hope that our nation can be different and better. I love it, but I am also guarded, realizing that campaigns change people. My thoughts echo the sentiments that Obama heard during his senatorial campaign:

At the end of the meeting people {general public attending "town meeting" style gathering in Illinois} will usually come up to shake hands, take pictures, or nudge their child forward to ask for an autograph. They slip things into my hand--articles, business cards, handwritten notes, armed-service medallions, small religious objects, good-luck charms. And sometimes someone will grab my hand and tell me that they have great hopes for me, but that they are worried that Washington is going to change me and I will end up just like all the rest of the people in power.
Please stay who you are, they will say to me.
Please don't disappoint us.

Yes. Please. Though how can you not like a guy with a soft spot for Le Carre?

The Audacity of Hope.


Excalibur said...

I must read his book. I really think he is the manifestation of everything that I think a Presidentail candidate should be.

I'm still stuck between both Hillary and Barak. Ultimately, I will make my decision when I see the two of them, and possibly Gore debate.

I'd love to see how they respond to the questions that are on everyone's minds: about the war in Iraq, about Health Care, about Social Security, the Environment, and so much more.

Al said...

You should read it. See the debate last night?

alex said...

ok, so this isn't a comment even relatively closely related to this post, but i dont have your email in front of me and here i am leaving you a message here!!!

This is SO random...but is your house in hanover that had that weird
"secret room" over your bedroom? I remember there was your attic, but then the wall appeared even though your bedroom was underneath and obviously the room went further back.
I was randomly thinking of that this past weekend and i was like "hmmm i wonder if that really existed or if i totally made that all up"
if it is indeed a real room, did you guys ever get into it or find out what was inside?

also, do you remember the time capsule you and amy left in the backyard near the swing set of your old house?! you should totally go get it!

andddd do you remember that time you and i put a note in a plastic toy boat and sent it out in the lake behind your holbrook house and we ended up finding it a few days later and the note was *gone* adn ooooh spooky.

ok, so apparently im having memory pangs of being 12 or something.

hope you are well!!!


Al said...

Alex, you're hilarious - I will email you about this later because of course I remember it!! LOL

elizabeth said...

I'm interested in John Edwards too. I think his platform of campaigning with the #1 issue of poverty is pretty striking. I'll probably go with Barack or Hillary in the end (if only because I think/the media is telling me that the competition is down to the two of them, plus C is a big Edwards fan), but I read an article about him in the Times Magazine and he had some pretty interesting ideas.