Dear Senator Obama,
You may recognize the title of this entry: it’s the very ideological kernel of Reagan’s apocalyptic rise to power almost 30 years ago. Everyone has to agree that, at the very least it was effective, and at the most abstract, it was successful in imbuing Americans with a stronger sense of self.
Not a bad idea, to give confidence to anyone out there lacking, but Reagan’s campaign left the rails very early on: pride went to insistence, insistence to demand and demand? Well, Manifest Destiny.
Ugly resonance with Germany’s second rise to power in the twentieth century. We deserved whatever we wanted. We were entitled (yes, the biggest entitlements under Reagan) to go where we would, do what we would, damn the consequences—but only to other peoples.
There’s another opportunity here, just like in 1979/1980. We are feeling down at heel. Only this time, there’s objective evidence that our incursions elsewhere have brought others into calling us out. Did you ever wonder why you see some collections of luggage that are covered in Canadian Flag stickers? I used to think that it was a national pride thing, an esoteric act that speaks for itself (as opposed to country western singers goose-stepping into your homes). Now? I’m not so sure it’s not just Canadians wanting to be sure you don’t mistake them for Americans. And I don’t blame them.
I’ve been considering doing it myself.
It so tends that conservative ideals, when presented with a Beginning view the potential as a means to whitewash the world: they’re the brush clearers and erasers, pushing whatever present potential into an actuality that extends the reality they already know. By force of mind and heart (heart?) they bring out the cookie cutters and macadam machines and apply themselves to owning minds and hearts and instead of providing the basics, they proselytize the converts towards worrying about that themselves.
Liberal ideals tend towards as many degrees of freedom, extending only the basic ideals into actuality and nothing more. There’s no ownership of mindshare except insofar as engendering a mindshare where the mindshare of others is respected. And thus begins the chain of attitude-begats that creates more and more freedom of mindshare.
You see, in most of the world, it’s a luxury to have the time to ponder, the space to meditate and the fully belly that unmoors the mind from quotidian concerns.
I tend to liberal ways of thinking simply because they make a lot more sense to me: ideas and theories emerge from who we are, and so if basic animal concerns are met, the sky’s the limit.
In the recent movie WALL•E, people were portrayed as too dependent on technology—to the point where those things which make us such a marvel in the universe had been left to die, just as Earth was left to die. Their reaction could be guessed from a light-year away, but the guesses were wrong. Every now and then we humans dig deep and do the right things not because it would gain us monetary or other material gains, but rather because there’s faith in our own future, out there in front of us so far we couldn’t begin to estimate where and when and how our acts in this lifetime might contribute.
Now it is time, Sir, to be the best leader you can, the best possible type of leader: a man whose leadership doesn’t create sycophants so much as it creates a vast population of other leaders. A leader who does not dictate so much as engender initiative in those over whom he presides.
Global dislike of Americans is justified, but only when measured by our recent behaviors across the world. They really wouldn’t dislike us if we showed them what our self-esteem can move us to do for the betterment of others.
It’s not our culture and our values that need to grow and expand, it’s our sense of time our abilities to improve lives that need to grow. We need to expand what we can give and in the giving, we expand our hearts as well.
Mr. Obama, these are the things a leader should bring, especially to a people who expect and yet fail to appreciate the things we do have.
From a planetary pulpit, remind the world how great we were once, and that our failings of late are a temporary shade over our heads. Bring us into the sunlight, where all the good things grow.
<br/>Regards, <br/> Jeffrey J Barbose