CAMPAIGN 08 & EDITOR’S COMMENT: The Obama cult

And Obama wept

Inspiration is nice. But some folks seem to be getting out of hand.

It’s as if Tom Daschle descended from on high saying, “Be not afraid; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of Chicago a Savior, who is Barack the Democrat.”

Obama supporter Kathleen Geier writes that she’s “getting increasingly weirded out by some of Obama’s supporters. On listservs I’m on, some people who should know better – hard-bitten, not-so-young cynics, even – are gushing about Barack…

Describing various encounters with Obama supporters, she writes, “Excuse me, but this sounds more like a cult than a political campaign. The language used here is the language of evangelical Christianity – the Obama volunteers speak of ‘coming to Obama’ in the same way born-again Christians talk about ‘coming to Jesus.’…So I say, we should all get a grip, stop all this unseemly mooning over Barack, see him and the political landscape he is a part of in a cooler, clearer, and more realistic light, and get to work.” [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — Among independently minded people there’s a natural tendency when meeting the force of a crowd, to want to move the opposite way — or at least stand in place and not get swept along in the flow. Popularity so rarely seems to be an index of good judgment. Thus it’s easy to see why the Obama current provokes a measure of skepticism. Sure, I can see his charisma and I can hear his eloquence, says the skeptic, but give me the hard facts. I need some specifics. I need to know what this man will do if we put him in the White House.

It’s a curious form of realism this. It seems to say, I attach more significance to what a politician promises, than I do to what I can assess of his or her character. It seems to imply that a checklist of the correct policy positions is a reliable indicator of what might happen.

I’m inclined to believe that Obama is realistic enough to know that the time to make the boldest declarations and the time to act as a progressive leader comes after receiving a mandate. Seeking and receiving a mandate for change opens up a whole lot of possibilities.

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4 thoughts on “CAMPAIGN 08 & EDITOR’S COMMENT: The Obama cult

  1. Azam Houle

    Paul,
    I am perhaps one of those skeptics you speak of. I do need hard facts and I do need promises, but more than anything I need something more than just words to hang my hopes on. Like many others, I am teetering at the darkest edges of cynicism about politics and corruption of human decency.

    There was a time – not too long ago – when I put my full faith in the 110th Congress (Obama included) to act on behalf of the people with the clear mandate to change the course of the country. I was disillusioned.

    Elections have always been- to some extent- about hollow promises but this time around promises can’t be hollow -too many lives hang on every word.

  2. Carl

    I think this “curious form of realism” simply means that we don’t trust people who speak and say nothing. IMO, that’s a sound form of reasoning.

    I’ll still vote for Obama, but only because I’m guessing that he might be more liberal than Clinton. But that’s all it is: a guess. He’s a package with no return address, and there’s nothing strange about being nervous about what’s inside.

  3. Paul Woodward

    When George Bush first ran for president, we all remember that he promised he would restore honor and dignity to the White House. He promised a compassionate conservatism. And most significantly, he said that the United States must be “humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course.”

    The task in front of voters in 2000 wasn’t simply to weigh up George Bush’s words; it was to assess the man and his motives for seeking office. I don’t believe that one had to be an extraordinary student of human character to see that, not in what he said but how he presented himself, Bush exuded a sense of entitlement. The presidency was not a means to an end; it was an end in itself.

    Personal ambition inevitably plays a role in anyone’s efforts to become U.S. president. The question is: Is personal ambition the axis of their candidacy? We can’t discern the answer to that question by studying the candidate’s policy positions. We can only attempt to answer it by measuring the person’s integrity, their judgment, and their character.

    To be disappointed about the Congress that came out of the 2006 election, is to be frank, a result of investing too much trust in campaign promises and ignoring what should already have been evident in the character of the Democrats’ Congressional leadership.

    Past experience has led many or even most Americans to assume that politicians can’t be trusted, yet why would we imagine that they can be held to their word if we don’t really believe that they mean what they say? Anyone who thinks Obama is just as untrustworthy as the rest, shouldn’t vote for him.

    Obama makes the bold claim that he can unify America. That’s a claim which is already been tested in the campaign. Is he being divisive or is he making an honest attempt to rally Americans together? This is the kind of campaign promise whose truth we can actually test now. It appears that gradually he’s proving his point.

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