Barack Obama: The Audacity of Hope
The words “The Audacity of Hope” comes from Obama’s 2004 Democratic Convention keynote address. Much of the book deal with Obama’s policy positions on a number of issues, from health care to the occupation of Iraq. In this book, Obama criticizes the existing policy positions of the Bush government, and tries to reconcile political differences based on the twin principles of respect and statesmanship. There are several issues that Obama discussed in the book. The first issue is about racial discrimination. Obama rejects the notion that the United States is divided into politically racial spheres.
Obama argues that the so-called ‘racial divide’ is a social construction – hence, cannot be immersed in policy-making. The personal attributes of people, according to Obama, should not become a hindrance to their own development. The second issue is rather unusual for the common reader. Obama rejects the ‘either – or formulations’ as a matter of policy. Here, he is referring to George W. Bush absolutists’ foreign policy that does not take into consideration alternatives. Obama provides a general background of such policy in the 60’s.
According to Obama, the admission of African-Americans, minorities, and women to full citizenship had greatly undermined the power of the racial majority. What had developed was a system of grudge that, even today, manifests itself in government, business, education, and defense. The unity of the American nation had been greatly undermined. Obama argues that the only means to restore that unity is towards reconciling political differences. Although this is difficult to achieve, the price of success far outweighs the short-run costs.
Obama’s idea of national unity transcends race, creed, and political differences. His idea of unity resembles that of Martin Luther King. Much of Obama’s thoughts on foreign, military, and domestic policies are a general triangulation of liberal and conservative ideas – probably a way to appease both liberals and conservatives in society as Tony Blair did. In any case, his ideas about national security are much more enlightened than that of Bush. Obama’s argues that war in Iraq was a misguided war on the basis that it increased the associated risks to the United States.
It did not put an end to terrorism, rather magnified it threefold. Tolerance, according to Obama must be observed in domestic and foreign policies. This is the only way to achieve an everlasting peace. The thesis of the book is: Unity of the American nation transcends race, creed, and politics, and the way to achieve peace is tolerance. For an intelligent reader, this thesis is something more of a vague statement. It does not attempt to give specific solutions to specific problems. There is no evaluation of alternatives.
It is even possible to argue that Obama’s thesis is a coagulation of his political motives – a desire for higher political office. In any case, unlike his predecessors, Obama’s attempts to give a general view of American policies are generally unbiased and to some extent open-ended. Much of his enthusiasm of a possible end of conflict in Iraq is generally based on the hopes of a policy-shift – whether a Republican or Democrat is elected to the White House. Here, one can see that Obama’s audacity in intellectual leadership in his party exceeded that of George W. Bush.
One can therefore argue that even if Obama’s thesis is a motherhood statement, it is in fact a radical alternative of the conservative-either-or policies of the Bush administration. Here, one sees the views of both a rising politician and a ‘dreamer of the 1960s. ’ Again, the specification of Obama’s thesis is still problematic, even though it carries a very meaningful radical policy-shift. In any case, there is no end to the question, “Is unity a long-run possibility? ” Reference Obama, Barack. 2006. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. New York: Crown.