We seem to love to consume the myth that some man will lead us to the promised land absent any real struggle or sacrifice on our part. In this, as in other aspects, Barack Obama is a product of the politics of our day. We not only adore the myth that a man will give us a good speech and lead us to progress, we adore the idea that we won’t be required to do any real work or make any real sacrifice ourselves.
It has become a liberal truism that Muslim Americans would not want to vote for the party of the administration responsible for the violation of their civil liberties, but—surprise —Muslim Republicans exist. Columbia Political Science Professor Robert Shapiro notes that these assumptions are rooted in liberal attitudes, rather than an analysis of voting trends and the motives behind them.
During a speech in Milwaukee in mid-April, Barack Obama brought his talk back to a common campaign theme: “Our incapacity to recognize ourselves in each other.” That was an especially poignant point to make in front of the mostly black audience. Obama’s authenticity as a black man has been questioned publicly by a number of people.
I was heading out the door after making a speech in Defiance, Ohio — a quaint, charming town deep in thestate’s northwest corner — when a middle-aged man in faded jeans and a hunting jacket stopped me and extended his hand. “Excuse me, Ms. Brown,” he said. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m a registered Republican.” Given that my father, Sherrod Brown, is a longtime Ohio politician and a longer-time Democrat, such an introduction usually does not bode well.
Rhetorically speaking, the pundit is a strange animal: a kind of crippled orphan using the language of a priest, a self-righteous uncle and a used car salesman combined.
If a donkey brays in the woods, but nobody hears it, does it make a sound? Democrats must wonder. And what makes them all the more ignorant is that donkeys aren’t normally found in the woods.
As long as the unity of the ever-fractious Democratic constituency is tied up in party leaders threatened by term limits and local electoral battles, the party remains one unlucky election away from disarray. Fortunately, they already have a perfect candidate to take responsibility for a party-wide message—the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
After twenty years of efforts to forge a true national service movement, proponents see in next year’s election the potential for a much more expansive discussion of what service and citizenship can mean in the post-9/11 era. They’re looking for a quantum leap in the politically possible. And one candidate in particular seems to have staked his candidacy on just such an appeal.