BARACK OBAMA:BOOK REVIEW: The Audacity Of Hope. Chapter Two: Values.
Obama in this chapter talks about values. If you remember the 2004 presidential election the subject of values was a big issue if not a decisive issue in the campaign. This is one of those nebulous issues thought up by Karl Rove to show that Republican voters, particularly fundamentalist Christian voters had superior values than those people that just voted their economic interests. Like it or not the candidates had to address issues surrounding abortion, gay marriage, gays in the military etc.
Obama believes that the core values of America are those that are expressed in the Bill Of Rights and it is those values that unite us as a people.
Politicians in Washington are engaged in a big money game over humanist values versus property values for their constituencies. Thus the issue of values came up in the 1994 election when the values in question, gun rights, gay rights, abortion, Christian fundamentalism etc. had nothing to do with the economic rights of the people involved. People with marginal incomes were led not to vote for their economic interests but for perceived values that would have no effect as to what they had on the table to eat that night. Thus an election was decided on false issues created by politicians whose loyalty lay not with the electorate but the economic interests of the wealthy.
While the values of Americans as expressed in the Bill Of Rights have not changed 9/11 has allowed the government to play fast and loose with constitutional principles. Problems arise when conservatives who value “free markets” or gun rights do not pay enough attention to those that liberals value like freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, privacy and due process. Also who controls woman’s reproductive rights seem to cut both ways and everybody appears to believe in freedom of worship but the line that defines government involvement in religion is often blurred depending on one’ point of view.
Often there is a misconception between values and ideology. Values are important to people but do not rise to the level of an ideology. Many people value gun rights but nowhere in the Constitution is there a clause saying they can’t be regulated so those who enjoy hunting can exercise their gun rights but those who wish to use an AK 47 for illicit purposes can’t be stopped from doing so.
Ones perception of other peoples values can be enhanced by empathy or by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to see how he sees the issues surrounding values and what is important and what is not. Those that wish to divide the public on the issue of values by creating good guys and bad guys do not act in the public interest.
What is more important; clean air and water, adequate medical care, proper education a broad and secure middle class, freedom of speech, privacy rights, due process, freedom of assembly or small government, unfettered markets, an uncontrolled military and their contractors, laws that cause the accumulation of wealth in the top sector of the public and lobbyists that formulate laws and have the financial clout to see that they are enacted?
Obama believes that change is in the air and that people are becoming more enlightened as to what is important to them and the welfare of the public in general and what is important to the power brokers in Washington.