Sunday, September 30, 2012

Obama's Audacity (updated)

Today Ezra Klein attempts to address the question of why Obama abandoned audacity in the 2012 campaign. He suggests that it was a political calculation about the American people not being in the mood to trust big ideas.
The American people, their research shows, are tired of audacity and skeptical of big ideas. They’re willing to believe Obama has done about the best job he could have been expected to do given the collapse of the global economy and the intransigence of the Republicans. But if they’re going to believe that, they’re also not willing to believe that he’s got all the answers now, or that his next big idea is the one that will really turn all this around. If they’re going to lower their expectations, he needs to be more realistic in his promises.
Of course, there's probably some truth in all of that. And it shouldn't surprise us that the headliner of The Wonk Blog would be focused almost entirely on the policy details of what President Obama is talking about.

But if you listen to ALL that the President is saying, you'll notice that he's also talking about citizenship, and engaging in the conversation, and what it really means to be patriotic. If we go back to what I recently wrote about his Nobel Peace Prize speech, we hear him talking about expanding our moral imagination. Think for a minute about how these words apply not only to how we view our role in the world, but how they might also inform our domestic affairs.
Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, the determination, the staying power, to complete this work without something more -- and that's the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there's something irreducible that we all share.
Given our current cultural and political milieu, THAT'S audacious!

UPDATE: Here's how p m carpenter put it.
And that's an Obama-worthy challenge of FDR-like audacity for a second term: to reinspire Americans to see beyond the kind of atomistic selfishness the right has glorified and to instead commit to a unified, national purpose.

1 comment:

  1. EK thinks that he is the smartest man in the room..