Read The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama Free Online
Book Title: The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.64 MB
v The author of the book: Barack Obama
Edition: Canongate Books
Date of issue: January 1st 2007
ISBN 13: 9781847670359
City - Country: No data
Read full description of the books The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream:I’m assuming Obama will be the next President of the USA. That will probably be a good thing. Recently I did an online quiz to pick which candidate I would be most likely to vote for – as an Australian this was purely an academic exercise – but it said I should support Obama. Naturally, my politics and his are quite different – I’m to his extreme left, but I thought I should find out more about him just the same.
It is an odd thing how different Australians are from Americans. We are both ‘frontier’ societies with a history of appalling treatment of our native peoples – but I think we have made a better stab at multiculturalism than has been the case in the US. From reading this book it also seems clear that we do community better here than the US does.
One of our biggest worries is that we might be becoming more like America. The US Health System (if that is not an oxymoron) rightly frightens the life out of us – we, at least, have some semblance of a national health system. Medicare may not be perfect, but God save us from the US system!
There were parts of this book that gave me slight cause for hope – it did seem like he might try to do something about education, and might even help people retrain to get better jobs. His criticisms of corporate America’s disproportionate influence on politics due to the money it was able to pour in was reassuring, if only because he noticed it might be a problem.
There were parts of the book that made me cringe – the stuff about his family and how much he loved his wife was all a bit saccharine for my tastes. Some of the writing was overly flowery. But I think possibly Australians are a bit more reserved with this stuff (a bit more British) than Americans and what makes us cringe might well seem quite endearing in the US.
All the same, wouldn’t it be wonderful if a candidate for US President did not have to declare themselves Christian to have any hope of being elected? As a nation that has had at least one Agnostic Prime Minister (Bob Hawke – although, as the joke went, that was only because Bob wasn’t sure if he was God or not) it seems insane the obsession that religion is in American politics. For a country that likes a personal relationship with God the US certainly does like that personal relationship to be as public as possible.
I was surprised at how much time was spent in this book talking about God – our politicians would never do this – not at such length. The other bit of the book that made me cringe was him talking to Senator Bird and proudly declaring himself a committed Christian. Bird saying to him that all he needed by his side were the American Constitution and the Bible was also very concerning.
I was flicking though The Rights of Man recently and was interested when Paine said that it wasn’t for one generation to limit for all time the extent of the hopes and dreams of all following generations. This is the second book by a US politician I’ve read recently – the other being Gore’s The Assault on Reason – and I’ve been surprised in both at how much time is spent talking about the glories of the founding documents and the nearly god like reverence shown for the founding fathers. This is something else that is completely alien in Australian politics. It is not just that in the main we have no idea about our own Federation – but no one here has a clue about the Australian constitution, which is also a matter of some pride to most Aussies. Mostly, those who do know something about it see it as a deeply flawed document that it is impossible to fix and should be more or less ignored. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in a country that has such a view of its own importance and historical infallibility – I’m quite sure I wouldn’t like it. But I’ve never been good at crowds – particularly not flag waving crowds.
Obama recognises that money is a problem in American politics, but I think I would still go further than him. It isn’t so much money that is the problem, but a problem with the American psyche in which, it seems from afar, the only measure for success and worth of anyone is how much money they have made. The US government appears to be little more than a rich man’s club, something else Obama talks about in his book – it is hardly surprising that so few ordinary people seem to be bothered to vote in what appears to be a popularity contest between the obscenely wealthy.
I have often wondered if societies have become too large to be properly governed as democracies. Plato put limits on the size of his ideal republic – I can’t remember what it is, but I think it might have been 30,000 people – something like that anyway. There are 300 million in the US – is it really a silly question to ask whether any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure? How ‘democratic’ it can be must surely be a question worth considering.
There is a part of me that worries that America believes its own myths far too much.
But Obama does look like he might try to help the poor, that he might seek to finally do something to address the shame that is racism, that he might do something to reduce the US deficit (which is increasingly a threat to world economic growth) and might even do something to improve health care, maternity leave, and other family friendly policies. Of course, my hope is a little more audacious – that one day there might just be a President of the US who doesn’t feel they have to denigrate their mother’s secular humanism as their only hope of being elected. That the US might one day consider someone’s worth not as being measured purely by the size of their bank account and that paying taxes will be seen as something proudly done because it is the price one pays to live in a civilisation.
I can’t help but feel that while the US cuts taxes to the bone, prefers its citizens to beg in the humiliation that is charity rather than turn when in need to the dignity of social welfare, while the US gleefully punishes the poor and the working class with unliveable wages, while the US talks of placing the ten commandments in the courtrooms that sentence people to death in contradiction of the ‘thou shalt not kill’ they would hypocritically engrave into the walls, it will always be hard for me to understand the US.
But if Obama does half what he says he will in this book, even as modest a proposal as it seems, then perhaps, just maybe, there is some cause for hope.
Read information about the authorBarack Obama was the 44th President of the United States of America. He was the first African-American President to be elected President of the United States, and was the first to be nominated for President by a major U.S. political party. He was the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois from 2005 until he resigned on November 16, 2008, following his election to the Presidency.
Barack Obama is the son of Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham. He graduated from Columbia University in 1983, and moved to Chicago in 1985 to work for a church-based group seeking to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued with crime and high unemployment. In 1991, Obama graduated from Harvard Law School where he was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. In addition to his work as a community organizer, Obama practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.
During his eight years in the Illinois state Senate, Obama worked with both Democrats and Republicans to help working families get ahead by creating programs like the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which in three years provided over $100 million in tax cuts to families across the state. Obama also pushed through an expansion of early childhood education, and after a number of inmates on death row were found innocent, Senator Obama enlisted the support of law enforcement officials to draft legislation requiring the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases.
As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he helped create legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. During the 110th Congress, he helped create legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel.
Obama is especially proud of being a husband and father of two daughters, Malia and Sasha. Obama and his wife, Michelle, married in 1992 and have a home in Chicago’s South Side.
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