Wednesday, July 01, 2009
The Audacity of Hope (Barack Obama)
I found it a refreshing insight into US politics. Having enjoyed The West Wing and visited the centre of Washington DC last year it's good to hear from someone at the heart of it all. Obama comes across as a thoughtful man who looks at things carefully. On page 59 he comments:
"Values are faithfully applied to the facts before us, while ideology overrides whatever facts call theory into question."
I don't think that's a bad summary of where he's trying to come from. The downside is it makes him feel a bit slippery and middling because he can see both sides of every argument. I sympathise with a lot of what he's saying. I appreciate his differentiation between saying something is wrong and the question of whether to legislate that. I'm refreshed by his honesty about mistakes and his learning that it's best not to presume you know everything about someone from a position they hold on something else.
Obama makes me cautiously optimistic, but the whole thing is more complicated than the thoughts of one man, in one wing of the US political system that is designed to contrain and limit him. In days when British politics is underfire, the also imperfect US system does seem to have some admirable qualities.
It's not that I agree with all of his angles on things. I'm not sure any of us can find a politician we agree with totally. And even if I found someone who would vote for my cause in every senario I'm not sure that would necessarily make them the best person to lead, represent or legislate for us. For example, as a Christian I'd like everyone to worship Jesus but you can't pass laws for that, but you can create freedom of worship.
In any event, it's a good read and it's fascinating to get some insight into the mind of leaders, past and present.