Tuesday 30 December 2008

The Audacity of Hope

He will disappoint

I can safely predict that president-elect Barack Obama would disappoint more people than he would impress, even though it appears he can be all things to all men.

In just about a week, I have finally turned the final leave the 362 page body, The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, it lives up to the hype and more, I have not read such an engaging book written by a politician which still reads with such conviction, simplicity and sense of purpose.

A story well told

In fact, I am amazed that during the campaign some were saying they knew nothing about Barack Obama with it culminating in Sarah Palin’s sinister; Who is Barack Obama? If she had ever bothered to read this book or read anything in particular she would have been in no doubt about whom he is, what guides him, how he thinks and where he wants to take America.

If I had read this book when it was first published in 2006 and had been able to see beyond the mist of celebrity and celebration of the newcomer orator, I would have had no doubt in my mind that the man would take the presidency and would have seen his tussle with Hillary Clinton as the training school for the bigger and substantive campaign.

A universal constituency

The reason why Barack Obama would disappoint many is because his constituency is universal; it has no specific identity, vested interest, obscure agenda or overbearing lobby. The people who want direct access to power have an axe to grind and a purpose of self-interest.

Everyday people only want to get on with their lives, hoping that the government ensures their freedoms and that they have a safety net when things turn bad – all that matters in terms of their government is that whoever gets chosen by the concept of democracy becomes an all-inclusive leader of all rather than the partisan, divisive and self-interested politician whose platform is founded on things that divide ad not things that unite.

A message that resonates

Barack Obama will not serve any of the special interests and lobbies who feel that they have a call on his office, they might think themselves crucial in his support framework but by numbers they are really insignificant to the broader swell of optimism that moved people to climb unto his vehicle of change they could believe in and the audacity of hope they could latch unto.

Through the book, Barack Obama addresses both the wedge issues and the core values of America, the conservatives whose message of individual responsibility forgets the greater call to Christian service of sacrifice, charity and compassion. The black churches that need to address the responsibility and begin to move beyond the clutches of race, racism, prejudice and deprivation politics.

Thinking through

He is both liberal and conservative that he comes across as pragmatic almost to a fault, his thinking is mature, considered, introspective, determined and commonsensical; when he responds to hard questions, he might sound professorial and he is a professor at Constitutional Law – as the Harvard Political Review [2] opines, “He manages to make nearly everything he says sound non-threatening.”

His different narrative

I can appreciate as a product of cultures though not of races, his quest for a strong identity, the influence of his forebears on his life, his desire not to propagate the troubles of his youth and past on the possibilities of the future.

This is a man who is a man of the times where every other politician that seeks office sits in disagreement and disagreeable banter, polarising the electorate and sending them like hordes into harms way as they sit hoping to reap rewards of office without despatching the responsibilities handed to them.

Indeed, some politicians do start with altruistic good intentions but the cut and thrust of the bear pit of politics shipwrecks their original aspirations with inaction and unfulfilled promises.

I am sorry to say that this is why Africa with not have leaders like Barack Obama, and it remains why the Middle-East would not see peace without someone who is ready to dispassionately stand above the fray regardless of the personal cost for the sake of the people who suffer on both sides of the conflict.

A text for any class of learners

Any class that of students that would be progressive needs this book processed into bite-size chunks for civics, civility, community service, seeking common ground and seeing the quest for public office as a service to humanity rather than one to those with specific and ulterior motives.

I am not sure we would see a politician of the mould of soon to be President Barack Obama for a generation, but for now, we should wish him Godspeed as the audacity of hope takes hold and begins to materialise into realities once considered impossible.

I commend to you The Audacity of Hope [3].


[1] The Audacity of Hope - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Harvard Political Review - The Audacity of Hope

[3] Amazon.com: The Audacity of Hope: Barack Obama

Obama's vision of what America should be :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Politics

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