Obama: hope, change and reality

I believe I recall Barack Obama quoting Otto Von Bismarck’s edict that “politics is the art of the possible,” and evidence of that optimism abounds everywhere I look in Denver today. The two words we seem to be hearing more than any others are “hope” and “change,” and we saw a wonderfully eloquent articulation of this enthusiasm last night in Wendy Redal’s post on starstruck idealism.

There’s no question (among rational people, anyway) that change is sorely needed, and after the last eight years hope is a precious and endangered commodity. Hope is the fuel of change, and sadly a lot of our traditional reserves are running dry.

I want to hope, and I’m being implored to hope, but really, should I? With all due respect to Bismarck, I find that for me, politics is the art of the probable. It wasn’t always that way. I wasn’t born cynical, and have, through the years, invested a good deal of my emotional capital in various and sundry hope futures markets. The results? Well, either the candidate in question gets beaten or, if he/she wins, winds up becoming part of the problem. After awhile it gets just about impossible to buy the shiny happy rhetoric.

But … Obama is different, right? The jury is still out on that one. There was nothing in his FISA capitulation to spark a lot of hope and his willingness to continue Bush’s faith-based bullshit is more than a little annoying for a guy who’s had about enough of the hellish admixture of government and religion for one lifetime. On the other hand, he opposed the invasion of Iraq and has so far insisted on a unifying tone on the campaign trail – and that last part is encouraging, given that for the last couple of decades politics has been mostly about corrosive divide and conquer tactics aimed at the American public. He’s on TV right now saying the right things about health care and education and energy. When push comes to shove, though, we don’t know as much as we need to about Sen. Obama to invest freely and openly. (Not that his lack of experience bothers me all that much – we’re in the mess we’re in thanks to people with a great deal of experience.)

My colleague at S&R, JS O’Brien, leans toward the optimistic side. He points out that you can’t do any good if you don’t get elected, and in order to do that you have to account for the realities of the political landscape. This is true, of course, but part of me stubbornly argues back that I need my leaders to lead, not follow.

Fortunately, hope and cynicism aren’t mutually exclusive mindsets. I’m capable of hoping powerfully without shutting my mind down and I’m also capable of assessing discouraging likelihoods without slitting my wrists. The fact that my favorite team has a one-in-a-thousand chance of winning the championship doesn’t keep me from watching the games and rooting hard for the good guys.

Where Obama is concerned, I guess I’m like Missouri: show me. I want change, I’m hopeful of change and I’m willing to work hard to make change a reality. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be able to look back on this moment as the point where the entire course of American and human history shifted, dramatically, toward a couorse that’s more enlightened, more progressive, more united, and more humane.

But there’s nothing about the candidacy of Barack Obama that has me making any blind leaps o’ faith. I’m pulling for the man, but there’s too much about the history of “hope” and even more about the money and media dynamics shaping our political engines these days that suggests caution.

So I’ll be cheering loudly and doing what I can to help Obama stave off four more years of Bush. But I’ll be betting small until I actually see change.

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10 thoughts on “Obama: hope, change and reality”

  1. Two quick points.

    1. Change, change, change. We want change!

    A man sits in a prison cell staring at the walls and praying for change. The guards finally open the door. They take him out and shoot him. Change.

    Change just for the sake of change can be a mistake.

    2. Please, please, lay off the “four more years of Bush” crap.

  2. Agreed. I want to hope, but isn’t that what Kerry promised four years ago? I don’t know what I expect to hear Obama say. After all, he has to pander to moderate moneybags to appease the status quo. It’s not as though he’s going to propose cutbacks in power for the executive branch, propose healthcare for all, or propose a measure that would make it illegal for the government to engage in deficit spending if he’s elected president.

    He has to play the game if he wants to sit in the comfy chair. So, how much of a wink-wink-nudge-nudge can he really give voters without setting off alarms among the haute bourgeoisie?

    In listening to NPR’s coverage last night, I found the interviews interesting. They were speaking to Walter Mondale almost as though he had won the presidency in ’84. There seems to be this “good enough” malaise in the Democratic party, whereby simply winning the party’s nomination represents the pinnacle of left wing success anymore. I hope I’m wrong.

  3. Re; four more years:

    1: This year McCain has voted in favor of Bush’s positions 100% of the time in the Senate.

    2: McCain has voted to confirm 100% of Bush’s judicial appointments.

    3: The only difference between the two might be that McCain is, if we believe the words coming out of his mouth, even MORE war-loving. 100 more years, anybody?

    So I’ll stop saying it when it stops being true.

  4. I agree we shouldn’t say four more years until we know who his VP pick will be. Because I seriously doubt that McCain would live through 4 years of being the President. (That much stress takes a dent out of a healthy guy, and he has a medical file inches thick from just the last few years.)

    Lara Amber

  5. Here’s a choice:
    Vote for Obama and give him the chance to prove himself.
    Vote for McCain and give him the chance to prove himself.
    Based on what we’ve already seen, which proof do you want?

  6. JFK comparisons have been used to death, but in this instance, I think it’s fair to say that Obama is selling the same exact thing JFK sold in the 1960 election. He’s selling it in a more sophisticated way, against media-savvy opponents, to a far more cynical audience.

    When times are tough, hope is the best tool for fixing things.

  7. SENATOR OBAMA, PLEASE GIVE AMERICA ~ A DOSE OF REALITY ON THIS HORROR !!!

    ** WHERE ALSO ARE OUR AMERICAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS ??

    SENATOR OBAMA,THIS JUDICIAL INJUSTICE HAS BECOME AN AMERICAN ART FORM,AND NO LONGER CAN BE KEPT HIDDEN OR SECRET FROM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE !!!

    WHEN AMERICANS WERE TOLD THE TRUTH BY THIS HONEST BLACK LEADER,WHO WENT ON TO BECOME A US PRESIDENT ???

    LETS ALL HOPE OUR MEDIA FRIENDS CONTINUE TO SHOW AN INTEREST IN REPORTING ON THIS AMERICAN HORROR FACING THESE (TENS OF THOUSANDS) FORGOTTEN AND TRAPPED POORER AMERICANS, AND HOW THIS PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER HANDLES THIS VERY SERIOUS ISSUE FACING AMERICA’S LATINO AND BLACK AMERICAN COMMUNITIES ??

    WITH 80% OF THE BLACK AMERICAN VOTERS SAYING THEY SUPPORT SENATOR OBAMA IN THIS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, IT IS ONLY FAIR FOR EVERYONE TO KNOW PRIOR BEING ELECTED OUR NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES HOW THIS DEMOCRATIC SENATOR TRULY FEELS ABOUT THIS AMERICAN JUDICIAL INJUSTICE CONTINUING TO INFLICT GRAVE HARM ON THE BLACK & LATINO AMERICAN FAMILIES AND THEIR COMMUNITIES NATIONWIDE ???

    *** WHEN GOD’S FACE BECAME VERY RED ***
    THE US SUPREME COURT GAVE ENEMY COMBATANTS FEDERAL APPEAL HC RIGHTS LAWYERS AND PROPER ACCESS TO US FEDERAL COURTS,AND POORER AMERICANS (MANY EVEN ON DEATH ROW) ARE DENIED PROPER FEDERAL APPEAL LEGAL REPRESENTATION TO OUR US FEDERAL COURTS OF APPEAL, AND ROTTING IN AMERICAN PRISONS NATIONWIDE ????

    **** INNOCENT AMERICANS ARE DENIED REAL HC RIGHTS WITH THEIR FEDERAL APPEALS !
    THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE $LOWLY FINDING OUT HOW EA$Y IT I$ FOR MIDDLE CLA$$ AND WORKING POOR AMERICAN$ TO FALL VICTIM TO OUR U$ MONETARY JUDICIAL $Y$TEM.

    ****WHEN THE US INNOCENT WERE ABANDONED BY THE GUILTY ****
    The prison experts have reported that there are 100,000 innocent Americans currently being falsely imprisoned along with the 2,300,000 total US prison population nationwide.
    Since our US Congress has never afforded poor prison inmates federal appeal legal counsel for their federal retrials,they have effectively closed the doors on these tens of thousands of innocent citizens ever being capable of possibly exonerating themselves to regain their freedom through being granted new retrials.

    This same exact unjust situation was happening in our Southern States when poor and mostly uneducated Black Americans were being falsely imprisoned for endless decades without the needed educational skills to properly submit their own written federal trial appeals.

    This devious and deceptive judicial process of making our poor and innocent prison inmates formulate and write their own federal appeal legal cases for possible retrials on their state criminal cases,is still in effect today even though everyone in our US judicial system knows that without proper legal representation, these tens of thousands of innocent prison inmates will be denied their rightful opportunities of ever being granted new trials from our federal appeal judges!!

    Sadly, the true US *legal* Federal Appeal situation that occurs when any of our uneducated American prison inmates are forced to attempt to submit their own written Federal Appeals (from our prisons nationwide) without the assistance of proper legal counsel, is that they all are in reality being denied their legitimate rights for Habeas Corpus and will win any future Supreme Court Case concerning this injustice!

    For our judicial system and our US Congressional Leaders Of The Free World to continue to pretend that this is a real and fair opportunity for our American Middle Class and Working Poor Citizens, only delays the very needed future change of Federal Financing of all these Federal appeals becoming a normal formula of Our American judicial system.

    It was not so very long ago that Public Defenders became a Reality in this country.Prior that legal reality taking place, their were also some who thought giving anyone charged with a crime a free lawyer was a waste of taxpayers $$.

    This FACADE and HORROR of our Federal Appeal proce$$ is not worthy of the Greatest Country In The World!

    ***GREAT SOCIETIES THAT DO NOT PROTECT EVEN THEIR INNOCENT, BECOME THE GUILTY!

    A MUST READ ABOUT AMERICAN INJUSTICE:
    1) YAHOO AND 2) GOOGLE
    MANNY GONZALES THE KID THAT EVERYONE FORGOT IN THE CA PRISON SYSTEM.
    ** A JUDICIAL RIDE OF ONES LIFE !

    lawyersforpooramericans@yahoo.com
    (424-247-2013)

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