Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Sam Smith

Here's one reason Barack Obama talks so much about the audacity of hope: his policies are so meek.

For example, he is clearly afraid to get anywhere near single payer healthcare so he comes up with a plan where the federal government would subsidize the auto companies' healthcare in return for more fuel efficient cars.

Aside from the fact that this is in opposition to far wiser efforts to disassociate healthcare from the work place, aside from the fact it is a corporatist policy that makes government even more a hostage of industry, aside from the subsidy to General Motors and its ilk, Obama not only is afraid of challenging the health insurance industry, he wants government to help further fill its trough. Although less bizarre than Hillary Clinton's 1990s health plan, there is no justification for it other than pure political convenience.

If this is the best he can come up with, there's good reason he's taken the easy way out and applied the marketing principles of Tony Robbins and Marianne Williamson to a political campaign. Having gone through eight years of EST with Bill Clinton and almost that much of AA with George Bush, we should be burned out on psycho-therapeutics as opposed to physical reality but sadly many are taken in by Obama's covert message that if you trust in hope you don't have to worry about the details like pensions and healthcare.

There are several problems with this.

One is that no one has presented the slightest evidence of why Obama's hope and faith is better than that of any of the other candidates.

The second problem is that hope is not audacious at all. Audacious would be doing something now, audacious would be taking a personal political risk because the country needs it, audacious would be saying something unconventional because the conventional is killing us. Audacity is not turning one's back on present needs and praying that the future will straighten it all out.

One of the best kept secrets in America today is the extent to which hope and faith are being used as seedy substitutes for action and reason. Too often, hope is a form of postponement and faith a substitute for action or facing the truth.

But as they say in the 'hood, hope don't pay the cable.

And as Tijn Touber has noted, "If you hang on to hope, you'll always have to wait" and "waiting makes you passive."

Thus, someone like Obama functions as a political sedative. His message is that we don't have to worry so much about what's happening because we can let the future handle it.

This is not audacious; it's either a con or cowardice.