Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Audacity of Hope

Great timing, I finished Obama's book just in time to go vote for him today in the primary. Shitty timing is that I then started reading Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass an American Slave. Obama's book is good, it really is, at least in the sense that while I don't agree with all of his policies I can respect the fact his opinions. I also know that said opinions were the result of thoughtful deliberation. Unfortunately I don't think any modern American could tell a story quite as riveting as Fredrick Douglass can by simply telling his life story. I like to think that Fredrick would sing with joy at the prospect of a black-man in serious contention for the presidency. I mention the singing because Douglass mentions a horrific misconception that slaves sang for joy, when in fact they were singing of sorrow, and the deeper their sorrow the more they sang, hence the eventual evolution into the blues.

It is quite interesting though to juxtapose the two books, perhaps they are separated by more years then they should be, but the fact that the second book was even written is a testament to the work of the first. The part thats most interesting to me is that despite all that has changed in society in the time between these two books there is one universal truth, if you want to move out of your pitiful station in life there is but one path, education. For Douglass it meant learning to read and write, today we need more but there are those who struggle even with that task. I'll stop now about the older book as I'm only half way through it and its Primary Day here in NY and I get to vote in my first primary today.

Obama, I like the guy. For the same tired reasons as every other young liberal. Sure I wish he'd be more willing to take on military spending. Actually I'm having trouble coming up with anything besides military stuff that I had any qualms at all with him. I don't think he'll do enough to limit the power of corporations but anyone who would go as far as I'd like to see (abolishment of corporate personhood) would have no chance of winning an election. So I can't hate the guy for that. He's also too pro-union for me, but he's a democrat so he pretty much has to be. But then to the stuff I like, first seeing as I've got that big A to the right I'll point out that while he professes to have considerable religious faith (christian) he repeatedly mentions protecting religious freedom, including those of no faith at all. He talks of growing up in a non-religious home with a mother who still felt religious education was important so she taught him about all the worlds major religions. As an atheist I have great respect for that mother, and if I'm ever with children I'd like to think that I'll do the same. So while some atheists have slung a bit of mud at the man for his personal outpourings of faith which many assume is pander to the religious I being an optimist, and a minor fanboy, assume that the religious sentiment is genuine but he feels strongly about the separation of church and state. More importantly though is his perspective, he spend a considerable part of his childhood in Indonesia, a country that has been on the receiving end of plenty of US influence. He has the advantage of being an American who has seen our country from the eyes of the outside world, a view thats not always pretty. He acknowledges the harm imposed on the third world by corporate America which leads me to believe he will do as much as he thinks he can get away with towards reversing the influence of corporations.

I'm just happy to be voting for someone, and not against the other guy (or girl). It should be an interesting evening.

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