Barack Obama: The Audacity Of Hope. Chapter One: Republicans And Democrats. Identity And Philosophy.
Barack Obama in this chapter discusses the difference between Republicans and Democrats historically and up to the present day. He notes that the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt has become more conservative recently hearkening back to the party as it was in the Twenties before the Great Depression
The party of Nelson Rockefeller made up of moderates who would go along to get along has disappeared. There have been changes in the Democratic Party also. The party once run by big city bosses and with a contingent from the Solid South has also disappeared. Also the party that ruled Congress for forty years after World War II is gone.
However while the Democrats have held on to the idea that politics is a game of achieving goals incrementally by give and take and compromise to the benefit of society in general, the Republicans have become more conservative and more absolutist.
Republican party discipline is rigidly enforced by its leaders. Districts have been gerrymandered into safe districts except if a member breaks a party rule like no new taxes then he is met by an onslaught of media attack ads and vituperation and vilification on conservative talk shows. Thus a shiny new true believer is put in his place as payment to the chastised and dismissed member for daring to vote his beliefs or conscience.
Beyond this the Republican Party has been taken over by its conservative wing and there are fewer moderates to meet and reach decisions somewhere in the middle. Now it’s our way or the highway and lobbyists like Grover Norquist who are not elected but have more power over issues than elected members decide policies and even the fate of elected members. They control big money donors so if a tenet of their conservative philosophy is violated by a member he can expect to be vigorously opposed in the next primary. Also new members are forced to sign pledges to vote certain ways on measures like no new taxes.
Barack Obama thinks that this polarity and absolutism exhibited by the Republican right is preventing the government from enacting legislation fair to all Americans or even functioning properly as a governing body in a democratic society
Instead the Republicans have a limited focus for government, no safety net, no health care, no consumer protection, small government, no regulation of commerce, free markets and government should only provide for the national defense and protection of private property.
Obama sees this situation as a bad one for all concerned. Without a strong and vibrant middle class and with proper education for all Americans we will not be able to compete in a globalized economy.
The Audacity Of Hope is about changing the status quo in Washington to a government that is more focused on protecting and nourishing all its people and not just the wealthy. To do otherwise would be to abandon our premiere place as the leader of the World to other rising powers. Therefore we must prepare our country to compete in order to hold our place in the world.
This book is different than his first book, Dreams From Father. In that book he seemed to be searching for identification and a philosophy to live by. In this book he appears to have found his identity and philosophy.
Barack Obama: The Audacity Of Hope. (Thoughts On Recapturing The American Dream). 2006. Prologue. Book Review.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA
In 2006 Barack Obama published his second book. His first book Dreams From My Father, about his life up to entering law school was written after he had graduated from law school. It initially had a lack luster reception but upon his election to the Senate it was re-released and became a best seller. In this book he tells us of his experiences after law school. Upon graduation he went back to Chicago where he became a civil rights lawyer, a lecturer at the University Of Chicago Law School, married Michelle and had two girls and eventually, after being a political activist (He is considered responsible for registering 150,000 voters in behalf of the Democratic Party), he decided to become a candidate for political office. He first ran on the state level and then on the Federal level. He dedicates this book to the women who raised him, his grandmother Tutu and his mother Ann.
Despite a lukewarm reception at his entrance into politics on his first run for the state senate by perseverance and hard work he won. Next after a failed attempt at a congressional seat he decided to run for U.S. Senate. Michelle was dubious but she supported him. This decision was also greeted coolly by the power brokers in Illinois as he was running against a wealthy Republican incumbent, Peter Fitzgerald. However fortune smiled on him when the incumbent dropped out of the race because of a scandal and the Republicans were forced to bring in a candidate from another state with wild ideas like some of the candidates in the Republican runoff of 2011.
Campaigning on a state wide basis with a low budget was rigorous and stressful on family life but it caused him to speak directly with many voters and learn their hopes and fears.
Basically the average voter wanted a secure job, a decent education for the children, health care at a reasonable cost, a clean environment, safety from criminals and terrorists and a retirement with security and dignity. This book is based on those discussions he had during his during his successful campaign for the Senate.
He states that his own philosophy resembles more closely the editorials found in the N.Y. Times rather than the The Wall Street Journal. The book discusses those things that unite us as well as those that divide us and the common values that can lead us to a new consensus. He rejects politics that is founded solely on racial identity, gender, identity, sexual orientation, or victim-hood. He believes that our culture and values are important as our GDP. His first book was written in his late twenties before he had decided to run for political office while this book was written after he had become an experienced politician and probably with an eye on the Presidency.