Friday, February 08, 2008

The Audacity to Agree with This Guy

It's useful that "The Audacity of... [blank]" can be used as a shorthand for talking about (satirizing) Barack Obama.

Rather than belabor the point that I'm not the possible 2009 president's biggest fan, I'm just going to link to a guy that summed up how I feel about Obama pretty succinctly.

Of course, many have pointed out that I'm a radical and so a mainstream candidate (i.e. anyone with any chance whatsoever of winning) is plainly never going to appeal to me. Be that as it may, the point of Professor Marc Lamont Hill still stands: Obama himself is packaging himself as the great bringer of change. He clearly doesn't represent a radical break from the status quo -- and if he's not a radical break (in the general, not necessarily progressive sense) then he can't represent fundamental change, hmm, ahh? It's sort of a logical impossibility. Of course, the continued argument is that one must kowtow to the status quo to be elected, and that the people aren't ready for a radical change -- and more pertinently, that presidents are not usually the instigators of radical change. Which simply makes me think, then:

a) change agents rarely kowtow to the status quo -- as I believe Frederick Douglas said (to paraphrase) -- "You cannot expect to applauded by the same system you are trying to oppose";
b) "the people" are never "ready" for change -- change agents build the movements that create this change that lurches society forward faster than it thought it could go (take your pick -- MLK Jr., Gandhi, Mandela, Castro, Guevara, and any number of other revolutionaries and visionaries you might name);
c) if presidents aren't instigators of radical change, then I can't really get all that excited about Obama -- keeping in mind that getting back to "normal" is still a world where Democrats have been as responsible for US foreign aggression, military intervention, deaths of foreign nationals, and maintaining US imperialism as Republicans -- I'm going to get excited about the next MLK, not JFK (i.e. the same JFK that brought us Vietnam and nearly WW III with the Bay of Pigs, for starters).

This attitude is perhaps that "negative attitude" I was accused of at my old job, when I felt I'd proved that the bodywash we wanted to design was chemically and kinetically impossible. I was told not to be such a pessimist -- but really, is pessimism the best way to describe "I think we're going to hit that mountain if we don't pull up?" Or is the optimism of "Pshaw, all we have to do is slow down a little bit and we'll be fine" really preferable?

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