It doesn’t bother me that Barack Obama chooses not to (or even might not be able to) articulate specific policy points. One person cannot be expected to know enough about all the parts of a beast as large and complex as the U.S. government so as to have an opinion on any point randomly thrown at him or her. Tell me the general direction, especially at this point in the campaign, but I don’t need to know what subpart B of paragraph 19 will say yet. If the leader can select competent assistants and communicate with them and the citizens effectively, then all would be well. We’re electing a whole team here, and part of the question is, does one trust the team enough that they should be in charge.
This isn’t meant to discount the importance of the person, because that person sets the tone. That’s all we may remember when we go to the polls in November, anyway. What most people seem to be taking away from what Mr. Obama says is a message of hope: Hope that we can move beyond the terribly divisive politics that have been at play since the neo-conservatives became powerful in the late 1970s and 1980s; hope that America will start acting more like the shining beacon and less like the playground bully. It may be hard to say whether Mr. Obama can do it, but it’s not all up to him. In the 2008 election, we may be electing ourselves as much as our president. Will we choose to be hopeful citizens and try to make some more good out of our country, or will we choose to continue the cynical, fear-inspired path that we’ve been on for the last couple of decades? And what will we do after the election—will we follow through on the commitment we expect our president (whoever it is) to make?
I admit that I’ve been pretty cynical about politics and the people involved in politics over the last couple of decades. One can choose to stay cynical or one can choose something a little brighter.
(Largely inspired by Brad Hicks’ post today.)