Friday, March 26, 2010

Obama and politics 

Jonathan Bernstein analyzes Obama's recent speeches and draws some conclusions:
What Obama is saying here is that politics, rightly understood, is the very core of what makes this nation a nation. Not individualism, not religiosity, and certainly not ethnicity or the land itself, but politics. . . . We, in the United States, do not accept history, or live through history -- we have the capacity, Obama (and Biden) say, to make history, through collective action, whether it is in the Revolution, the Constitution, the Civil War, the civil rights revolution, or now, in tackling the challenges that face us in the 21st century. America, therefore, is self-created, and continues to be self-creating, by political action.
Two years ago, I felt that the difference between the three democratic frontrunners could be summed up like this: John Edwards wanted to reform the economy, Hillary Clinton wanted to reform society, and Barak Obama wanted to reform politics. I am still not sure whether people who voted for Obama necessarily understood or supported what he wanted to do -- I'm not sure if changing US politics is actually possible, either -- but Obama took his election as a mandate and I believe he is doing it. He sincerely believes that Americans can do anything they want to do -- "Yes, we can" is the essence of his being. In the end, if he CAN reform American politics, then society and the economy will follow.
The Teabaggers who are so opposed to him call him names like fascist and communist because they don't know WHAT to call him, but in some visceral way they recognize what many progressives so far have not -- that Obama actually is aiming to change the way politics is being practiced in America, creating a significant, non-partisan, forward-looking change in how American democracy functions. This is terribly threatening to some on both the right and the left, who are too comfortable with the existing system.

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