Election 2008 Obama Politics

The Paradox of Barack Obama

[digg-me]Barack Obama sees the importance of this moment – as many of us now do – and he sees what our nation needs; in response to this moment, he is trying to conjure the movement, the politics, and the consensus we need to tackle the long-term problems and strategic challenges we face as a nation.

Barack Obama is not the answer to these problems; he cannot overcome the challenges. But the movement he is trying to conjure is and can.

The paradox of Obama’s campaign is that it requires belief – a leap of faith in the possibilities of the American people. The phrase sounds like boilerplate bullshit. It’s not.

What Obama and his supporters are counting on are the choices of many individuals to take a leap of faith – a faith not borne out by recent history, but a faith in a better tomorrow – specifically a better tomorrow founded on the discernment of the American people. This is what Obama means when he speaks of “the audacity of hope”, the “fierce urgency of now”, and “the great need of the hour”. It is what skeptics call “drinking the Kool-Aid“.

What Obama is attempting to do is call on the “better angels of our nature”. The paradox is that he will only succeed if America is transformed through a leap of faith. And a majority of individuals will only take the leap of faith if they first believe he will succeed. Which is why his campaign is a conjuring act. It is also why his campaign – unlike Hillary’s – will require American politics to rise to a different level.

The question now is: can he get Hillary to rise to that level? Can he convince Hillary to trust the American people and say what she means? Can he convince Hillary that the American people will see beyond the gutter politics dominating the campaign? Can he convince Democrats that he can win in a politics dominated by character assassination?

The paradox is in the answer: the only way he can show Hillary or the Democratic party that he can get past the gutter politics is to win. And the only way he can win, is to convince a majority that he not only deserves to succeed, but that he can succeed.

It’s a neat magic trick. I, for one, believe.

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