lundi 25 février 2008

And what would that substance be?

You know, they (clintonites in particular) say that Obama has no content. What do they mean by that? Well they mean he has no precise plan about the things he wants to do, the legislations he wants to pass. In a word (Hillary's), he does not offer "solutions", by which you should understand a description of the world as it should be.

There is first the little problem with that assumption that it is untrue and unbased. If you read Obama's book or his website, you can see that he has precise ideas and proposals on every topic, that he worked and thought through the issued that our world is facing.

But honestlty, I would argue that the existence of detailed plans is not what matters. One of the reasons I support Obama is precisely that he does not offer "plug-and-play" solutions the way Hillary and other traditional politicians do. When was the last time in Western Europea that a politician elected on a programme actually implemented it?

As Obama says, there is no shortage of good ideas. There actually even is a clear consensus on what should basically exist: affordable healthcare, pro-growth policies, pro-civilisation foreign policy, ending the Iraq war, etc. Everybody agrees that the real problem with change is "how do you get there". Everybody also agrees that the main reason why necessary change does not happen is the stability of political antagonisms and blockages. There are things politicians can't do because they wouldn't be reelected: upset the interests who finance their campaign and upset the voters.

I would therefore argue that the only way to create change in this political environment is through popular support. It has to be bottom-up. It is a very basic, very logical conclusion of political technology. It is definitely what makes Barack different: the popular support which, contrary to what "they" say, does not rely on magnetism or oratory skills, but on a precise idea of how to achieve conciliation.

What makes Barack different is both a mastering of what conciliation means and implies, and a capacity to mobilise people around those ideas and to share them. The hope that Barrack carries is a widely shared reasonable vision, a wide concern for how change can actually be implemented as opposed to a focus on how things should be regardless of what can be done (see Nader). On that, he is full of substance and his track record is remarkable. On that he is the most experienced and most skilled candidate.

But I had another point, as stated in the title: when you propose people "solutions" and "programmes", a description of how things should be, you don't hold anything concrete. What you offer is ideology, or "fairy tale", to quote Bill. And it is true that Obama
is awfully weak on ideology and pre-conceived solution that you should fight for.

Traditional elections, and traditional politics, tend to be Stalinian negotiations: here is what I want, this is not debatable. And the opposition of fixed blocks is the indepassable horizon of the political fights.

Because Obama does not offer the kind of thinking waiver which we are used to consider as political concreteness, some assume that he has to be all about words, or even worse, all about mesmerising crowds. We're that close to calling it Voodoo magic. But that's the exact opposite of it: a belief in intelligence, a belief that people can own their government and be concerned and involved in the difficulty of the choices it faces.

2 commentaires:

sing_or_die_1818 a dit…

very thoughtful work. thank you, souphie! i was a bit surprised to see an entry not related to food, as i only know you from chowhound and some excellent advice you've given me (i'm going to paris next month).

reading this reminded me of de toqueveille's "democracy in america" (written 1826-1831!): sometimes it seems to take an "outsider" to accurately assess a situation. as a new yorker now living in japan, i have some mixed--and strong--feelings about the u.s. government and people. in the primaries, i actually voted for john edwards, but, between obama and clinton, i will vote for obama, largely for exactly the reasons you suggested.

well done!

Julot-les-pinceaux a dit…

Thanks, SOD. I do think that the most relevant reference for Obama is Toqueville indeed, the dream of a democracy that is not a demogagy, and the fear of an "opinion democracy", driven by unjustified opinions and, mosly, by some special and powerful interests.

Thing is, in my opinion, there are both an emotional and an intellectual thing going on about Obama. On the one hand, there is a concrete and believable proposal for political action.

But on the other hand, there is also the incredible magnetism of the man, both touching and powerful, viril and kid-like. This is what, in the end, makes me optimistic. I believe in his plan, but I also believe that, when it comes to the very basic question of who should impersonate my country, who would make me proud, he has a significative edge over Hillary and even over MacCain.