The Audacity of Hope.
I was afraid to start reading this book before the general election in November. Truly, I am that cynical jaded hippie who believes that there is a conspiracy of Powers That Be so vast that John McCain was preordained to win the election and that Obama didn’t stand a chance. Still, I voted for him anyway and cried when he won. And then I went out and bought his book because it was finally safe to fall totally, totally in love with him. (And I am. My fridge is kind of like a statement for the Obama fan club.)
So, I started reading this on November 5th. And I just finished today, pushing myself to finish it before the inauguration. This says nothing about the book and everything about my ability to focus on nonfiction lately. You could say I’ve been on a fiction binge. (Interesting if someone could make a graph or something correlating my reading nonfiction with my working on my collage art – because I’ve done pretty much none of either lately.)
I don’t have much to say about the politics of the book. I would definitely fall into the category of “the choir” to which Obama is preaching. I’m even to the left of Obama on quite a lot of issues. Of course, my stance on politics is that we should all get together, hold hands, and sing kumbaya, so this isn’t terribly surprising. The writing in the book is what is to be commended – he conveys very lofty ideas in very simple, humble language. I doubt that there is anyone in America with a high school education to whom this book would be intellectually inaccessible. This is totally part of Obama’s brilliance. He’s an extremely intelligent man, and in no way has dumbed himself down, but he’s made his politics accessible to anyone – which is how, ideally, politics should be.
This election got me interested in politics. As I am, as mentioned before, a bit cynical, I was truly afraid to take interest before now out of fear of totally getting my poor liberal heart broken. Don’t get me wrong, I still think I’m going to get my liberal heart broken on several scores, but I think it might just be worth it. Reading Obama’s book outlines exactly why we, as Americans, should care about our government. My first Presidential election that I voted in was 2000. I voted for Nader. I’m sorry. In my defense, I voted in Vermont – the first state to go for Gore. I was nineteen and my generation, and I dare say we weren’t alone, had no idea that things could go so badly. I’m also not alone in spending the last eight years feeling like my country was stolen from me and more and more feeling shame over being an American.
I’m not going to go out and tattoo the American flag on my chest (I won’t even buy American flag stamps because I think that they’re tacky), but I do have a surge of pride with tomorrow’s inauguration and dare I say, a little audacity to hope for the future. I don’t think Obama himself is the answer to all of our problems, but I do feel like this book lays out a good outlines of solutions that we, as a people, might want to take.
It’s hard to believe that when he wrote this he wasn’t a Presidential candidate. The book is such a complete, and yet concise, outline of real and possible change for our government that it is truly astounding that he was simply the Junior Senator from Illinois when he wrote it.
Oh hi, look at me, I’m an Obama fangirl.