Monday, March 16, 2009

The Audacity of Hope



I recently bought a copy of Barack Obama's 'Audacity of Hope' while in Brisbane last month.

Why am I reading it?

Well, apart from the obvious answer that it's a book by the current US president, who also happens to be the first African American to occupy the Oval Office; I am reading the book to gain an insight into the thoughts of the man who advocated change throughout his election campaign. How much change is he really looking to achieve for the US and the free world?

It is well known that decisions made by the President of the United States (whoever he or she may be) affect everyone in the world in one way or another. Obama's actions, while in office, will similarly affect us all today and into the immediate future.

The enactment of the economic stimulus package is a good example of how the decision of the president can affect the whole world.

So far what I have gleaned from the elegantly written 'Audacity of Hope' is that Obama believes, indeed yearns, for politicians in America to be more practical about dealing with the issues and concerns affecting the American people. He appears to be of the view that the American government is too far removed from the people it is supposed to serve. The comments he puts forward in the book about how government should operate seem leftist and maybe even socialist but that is no surprise considering Obama is a member of the Democratic party but bringing his ideas to fruition might have a chance to succeed if, perhaps, both Republicans and Democrats worked together to achieve them - a difficult notion when you have one party holding the majority of seats in Congress.

The most interesting chapter that I have read so far is the one entitled 'Opportunity'. In it, Obama notes that, in the US, opportunities available to some are not necessarily available to everyone else because of race and he goes on to provide interesting statistics about the differences between blacks, latinos and white Americans in education, lifestyle habits and crime. For instance, there are a lot more white Americans than blacks and other minorities in the important fields of maths and science, which, as Obama opines, is because minority students do not seem motivated enough by the current education system to pursue interests in these fields. I kind of understand that when I see that a lot more blacks prefer to pursue a career in some professional sport! Despite the historical event of the presidential election, minorities in the US will still have a hard time trying to get by, which shows that the US is still very much a nation divided by race.

Still, it is pleasing to note that Obama is very concerned about the fate of his people and, in the position he now is, stands ready to act on the ideas that he has proposed in his book to make life a bit better for all American citizens regardless of race or creed. This is perhaps because Obama comes from a middle class background and understands the issues facing the mothers and fathers of this social bracket. His recent decision to reform Health Care for Americans appears in order with the theme of his book, which, to some commentators in America, is audacious.

Obama has only been president for about 50 days but, to this writer, he does appear to be practicing what he has preached in his book and, I guess, you need to be seen to be doing that if you are a politician in the US, especially if you are the president.

On the issue of foreign affairs, it remains to be seen though if Obama will change the hawkish image of the US that the rest of the world has had to contend with for eight years under George W. Bush. Obama does not have much experience with dealing with foreign affairs but he has a capable team around him in the likes of Mrs Hilary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden who, as Obama's recent emissaries to Europe, Asia and the Middle East, may have reassured some that the Obama Administration is going to be a lot more friendlier. Still, hanging over the White House like a dark cloud on a beautiful clear day are Osama Bin Laden, Iraq, Afghanistan and the ever belligerent North Korea. It will be very interesting indeed to see how President Obama, the advocate of change, handles them all.


Ian Taukuro




1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:21 PM

    I also followed Obama's campaign trail and built up hope that the most powerful nation on earth was about to elect a leader that made sense, advocated much needed change and seemed focused on leading his country into an era of healing.

    As you say it has now been 50 days since Obama took up his new post as President of the USA. If the way he is dealing with the Financial crisis is any indication of how Obama is going to deal with "other" issues - then I do not hold much hope.

    If you take a closer look at who Oabama has appointed into positions of fiscal responsibility they would appear to be the same "chaps" responsible for getting the US in this mess in the first place. Some have even suggested that the corporates paid for his campaign and ultimately his win and are now collecting their dues.

    Not that much different to our wantok system in PNG!