Monday, October 13, 2008

How Should Obama Lead?

Blogger gsatell over at Kos has an astute treatise on what to do after the Republican "revolution" dies its miserable and long-overdue death on Nov. 4. He has three suggestions for Obama to be an effective leader post-Bush: Modernity, Multiculturalism, and Schumpeterism.

I can imagine how my friend Dave Adams would view Modernity. As a devout conservative Christian, Dave holds fast to traditional values, which, as gsatell writes, "have their charms but don't adapt very well." He is a sensible chap for the most part and I think he'd agree that "we can't solve today's problems with yesterday's ideas and we can't be competitive without a well-educated workforce." Still, this would probably launch him into a rant about the unconstitutionality of federally-funded public education and how, short of complete abolition of the US Dept. of Education, school vouchers are the only cure to bring balance to that system.

As for Multiculturalism, Dave talks a good game but everything is filtered through a very cloudy lens indeed. The Evangelical Christian movement, at least in the Bible Belt, is dominated by Caucasians. Texas and California both have highly diverse populations, but inclusion under the Evangelical tent requires capitulation to a highly dogmatized version of Christianity, one many would say is sorely in need of adjustment after producing failed radicals like Rick Santorum, Tom DeLay, Ted Haggard, John Hagee, George W. Bush (in a superficial way only) and Sarah Palin. I would posit what Billy Graham popularized in his life bears little resemblance to what many non-Evangelicals see today. Dave will probably argue that Palin is Pentecostal and not Evangelical. Uh, that nuance would be lost on most of us. Embracing the new face of America -- perfectly embodied by the son of a white mother and an immigrant, Muslim (yes I went there), African father -- is not only necessary, but plain common sense in the 21st century. We whites are no longer a majority in this country. The sooner we embrace this change and get over ourselves, the more easily this nation can grow and succeed.

Now, I'd never heard of Joseph Schumpeter until today, but I did a little reading. I'll let my friend Titus Levi, the economist, weigh in on this, but the idea that innovation and entrepreneurship provide enough forward momentum for capitalism to prevent it from collapsing in on itself due to competing self-interests is an interesting one. I think Obama embodies this spirit in his economic, infrastructure and health care plans, which are as forward-looking as they can be while they try to grapple with the realities of the now. Dave, ever the libertarian in this regard, would simply argue that nothing will work until the tax code is dismantled in favor of the Fair Tax Plan.

This is sort of intellectualizing the inevitable Obama win, but, as David Brooks writes about the Republican/conservative movement:
What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect.
Thinking BAD! Six packs GOOD!

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