Is Obama a game changer?

17 01 2009

Sometimes a fundamental shift occurs in the course of a region, a country, or even the world. It’s not a case of “you could go this way or that way” so much as a fundamental change of nature. It happened with the discovery of Asia, then again of the New World. It happened with electricity. It happened with the Manhattan project. It happened with Apollo. So, with the excitement surrounding Obama, I have to wonder, is he a game changer?

What I mean by that is, can he fundamentally alter the way America is operating? The cynical (realistic, perhaps) side of me says that no, both because he’s just one person and because he is still essentially a politician. Certainly in some ways he’s acted like most politicans, but in other ways he really has seemed to be different. People talk about how he is a statesman, and to some extent it’s true. Antoher thing, I think, is that he is very, very intelligent. One would think that that would be true of all prominent politicians, but I think that you’ll find that he has shown himself to be generally much more nuanced in his views. And finally, and the reason I think it’s worth asking this at all, he is extremely charismatic. Other presidents have been charismatic, but I don’t know that they have also had the other traits to the same extent. And other presidents have been very intelligent, but they’ve rarely been as charismatic.

So, again, the question. Can Obama acheive a fundamental shift in the way Americans view government, and in what government does? Will he follow through on the open government he has talked about, and if so, will it be carried on by others? That would be a very, very powerful change for our government to make, and I think it really would help us as a country. But can he, and will he?

So yet again, I ask you: do you think Obama is capable of this? Will the optimists be right this time?

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4 responses

17 01 2009
jonolan

“Can Obama achieve a fundamental shift in the way Americans view government, and in what government does?”

That’s not a question who’s answer is necessarily determined by one’s optimism or pessimism. Either world view – Utopian or Distopian – could arrive at the same answer, that Obama could achieve a fundamental shift in the government of America. Many would conclude that he is intelligent and charismatic to do so.

The question though is what he might change American government and society’s views into. There have been extremely charismatic politicians in the past:

— Gaius Julius Caesar
— Charlemagne
— Adolph Hitler
— Joseph Stalin
— Mao Tse-tung

They all changed their respective nations’ views of their government and what that government did…

17 01 2009
Perpetual Dissent

True enough. On the other hand, I think that his methods in gaining power have been very different. Although Hitler was elected, for instance, he was already using tactics that, while far short of what he eventually did, were indicative of the mindset that could lead to them. That just hasn’t been seen in Obama. He hasn’t made the appeals to ignorance that that side of charisma usually makes.

18 01 2009
jonolan

We”ll see…Though Obama’s actual campaign rhetoric more resembled Fidel Castro’s rise than the figures I listed above.

18 01 2009
Dale

A very thoughtful post. Being just a man and just a politician is not an obstacle. He will not make the change himself but can serve as a focal point and catalyst (if we can just stop pouting about sideshow trivia like the Rick Warren thing.)

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