The new leadership, or managing differences
There is a moderate presidency in store for the United States, one that will pursue gestures of solidarity more so than confrontation, but will also be marked by very controversial decisions to face up to the changes in the national and international economic, financial, and political systems.
(From Madrid) BARACK OBAMA REPRESENTS hope for change not only in the United States, but also in the international system as whole. His words during the final days of the campaign, if you cast your ballot for me on Tuesday (tomorrow), we will not just win this election, but together, we will change this country, and we will change the world, are already, like his very figure, a symbol of transformation in the beginning of this new era.
Idealism, from Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, all the way to John F. Kennedy, has found in this atypical leader a magnet that attracts the hope of a significant part of the global population that – with the dream of a profound transformation or a quiet revolution lost – has only a miracle in the form of a global prophet left.
All of these people, inside and outside of the United States, do not believe in pipe dreams, or in visions, or even that the dream will ever become reality even once, but…this time, as opposed to the others, all of humanity’s hope for Yes We Can feels real and close. Internalized as such, the recent election of Barack Obama as president of the United Sates represents a great opportunity for this desired change that is being demanded for many distinct reasons: financial, political, social, life and even aesthetic ones, from both inside and outside of the United States.
THE NATIONAL PACT, OR MANAGING DIFFERENCES
Throughout his life and his political career, Obama has demonstrated that he is the man of consensus: the broker of deals. This special ability is probably a result of his life experience, of when Gerald Kellman hired him as a community organizer in the overwhelmingly black Altgeld Gardens housing project, one of the most rundown areas in Chicago. “If Obama had only counted on the vote of the black communities and the support of the black leaders, he never would have gotten all the way here”
It seems incredible that from that moment – when Barack Obama was 23 years old – up through the end of this long electoral process, that same discourse has been reiterated over and over again, and led to huge electoral gains. In a large part this is because that repetitive argument always makes clear what it is that American politics sorely lacks: the pursuit of a new, contemporary national pact. This is something that a large part of those diverse and complex citizens – called Americans – miss.
Obama’s discourse was reiterated during the elections from which he successfully emerged as the president of the Harvard Law Review and during the Illinois State Senate elections in 2000. It also reappeared in his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, and resonated monotonously throughout his long presidential campaign. With all probability we will hear it one more time in his inaugural address on January 20: Enough with this pitting the young against the old, the whites against the blacks, regions against regions, the rich against the poor, men against women, Democrats against Republicans. No more red states and blue states. We are the United States of America.
In summary, Obama’s magic formula lies in how he manages differences; finding what unites us by rejecting what separates us. If he had not had this integrative idea, and had only counted on the vote of the black communities and the support of the black leaders, he never would have gotten all the way here.
LESSONS OF THE PAST APPLIED TO THE PRESENT
“It is very probable that there is no reason to expect from Obama’s approaching presidency a bold management amounting to a compensatory uprising” Obama, under the guidance of David Axelrod, his campaign manager, and David Plouffe, his private advisor, repeated identical axioms and arguments for the third time in his electoral campaign. It is almost as if he was able to go through three dress rehearsals before making his presidential debut. He reminded the national American feeling of the principal wounds for a third time, to make – once they are cured – the viability of this national project possible, after acknowledging the military, economic and political failures. And there lies the success of his overwhelming and indisputable campaign: learning from past electoral mistakes in his politically adopted city, Chicago, in order to incorporate them into the current situation.
Like in Romano Battaglia’s short story The dream chaser, as a good pater familias, the traditional Native American shaman “The new American leadership depends largely on this new definition of the State and the new pact with the citizens promised during the campaign”on the reservations in the United States always looks for that which unites within the same project (tribal, national and international) so that everyone feels like he or she is reflected in it. All of this means that it is very probable that there is no reason to expect from Obama’s approaching presidency a bold management amounting to a compensatory uprising in favor of the poor, Blacks, Latinos, women, marginalized groups, less visible states… and so on and so forth.
His will probably be a moderate presidency with restrained overtones, in pursuit of gestures of solidarity more so than partisan, racial, or social confrontations, with idealistic nuances and very controversial decisions, keeping in mind that the new leadership’s doctrine will have to courageously face up to that change in the national and international economic, financial, and political systems.
However, the long electoral process in the United States has led to confrontation between two alternative models for managing a national and international project, both in crisis and finished. It is hidden from no one that, behind the rescue plans in the United States and the European Union – and also the proposals of the star White House candidate Obama – one can find a breakdown of the political and ideological values that had ruled for a large part of the 20th century, and right through the dawn of the 21st.
The new American leadership depends largely on this new definition of the State and the new pact with the citizens promised during the campaign, in order to get closer to that ultimate objective of the universalization of basic rights; even more so if, as Obama is indicating, the United States wishes to remain the economic archetype and political paradigm of values and principles of the West.
It will not be an easy task, keeping in mind that in eight years the United States has failed at its national and international project: the resounding failure of a society that considers itself to be a cut above the rest, with triumph in its genes. As has historically always been in the case in the U.S., it will only be possible to define that desired new leadership by starting with projecting its internal values outward, but above all, if it is capable of gaining back the trust it has lost. In conclusion, a New Deal for this nation, and for the whole international system.