When Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination in 2008, I was so disappointed (judge me if you will, but I am from Arkansas, and Bill and Hillary are my people!!). So, in an attempt to better understand this man I didn’t know much about, I picked up a copy of The Audacity of Hope. I discovered within its pages a political and cultural philosophy which was really more aligned to my own than any other politicians I had ever studied before. I got excited about this man who was promising change, and completely backed him for the presidency.
When President Obama took office, I think I expected him to immediately bring about the sweeping ideas I had read about in that awesome book. I guess I thought that book was the blueprint for the Barack Obama plan for this country. Instead, he kept compromising on his principles in what I thought was a misguided attempt to pacify the radical right. I felt that in his attempt to “get along,” he was setting aside the very ideas that made him special, different, radical, and great.
Then, it happened. Slowly, evidence of the man I read about in The Audacity of Hope began to show itself in interviews, and more importantly, in policies and administrative actions. As President Obama began to live into the moment of knowing that he no longer had to cater to the center in order to be reelected, he was able to become, and live out, more of the leader he really was.
Barack Obama wanted to bring about radical change, but in order to do that, he first had to work within the existing framework of the political system. By doing that, we are starting to see real change and progress take place. Sometimes it is necessary to be patient and figure out how to move forward without going so fast that you leave the base of your mandate behind.
In an interview he did with Marc Maron, the President said, “I know what I am doing, and I’m fearless.” This was definitely an attempt to redefine and reevaluate how to bring about radical change. As people enjoy healthcare, marriage rights, and the confederate flag is dropping all over the south, I finally understand why he was so cautious in the beginning.
In the end though, there is still much work to do. But I now appreciate the understanding that sometimes to make big things happen, it is necessary to take small, and more lasting, steps. President Barack Obama has started a revolution in this country. He did so, not by force, but by solid, steady policies which will have staying power and bring about real difference in the lives of the people of this country.
In this election, I think the question then becomes, who will keep that going? Who can best carry on the fight which Barack Obama started by having the audacity to hope?