Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Is Hope All It's Cracked Up to Be?

I've tried to stay away from this as much as possible, but... :)

Missy encountered an elderly black man the other day that was impressed she (a white lady) was supporting a black man for president. She said:
And even today I’m still thinking about that man, and that hug, and the feeling of unity that I got with someone who I have nothing in common with. A feeling of hope that our world can change. And that’s why I’ll vote the way I will on Nov. 4th. Not because of Barack Obama’s color and misplaced white guilt. Because of his message of hope.


I’m just a housewife, in a suburb, and I want to believe that there is hope for everyone. For me and for that elderly Black man who crossed all kinds of lines to say thank you. Oh, sure, I’m glad that I’ve made that man happy. But he’s not the reason why I believe the way I do. I believe in hope. I believe in change. Because I’ve lived it. And I want my country to live it too. More of the same or something new. It’s up to you. Believe in hope, or don’t. It’s your decision.

I replied, in comments:

...I consistently fail to understand how a promise of “hope” - no matter how strong, no matter how pure, no matter how well-intentioned - tips the scales on whether a man is qualified to be President of the US? In a national security situation, how does “hope” make the correct decisions that safeguard the lives of millions of Americans and others around the world? How does “hope” come up with solutions to the dozens of crises that will require a President’s attention daily? What exactly is this power that you, and others believe, “hope” bestows on Obama that will give him these answers?

I am a very hopeful person, I always have been. I am deeply grateful that in many ways the racial divide is shrinking between blacks and whites. I also believe there is hope for everyone, even those who we look on as hopeless. But “hope” is a philosophical concept that requires no practical support, no nuts-and-bolts solutions. In this case it’s a magi wand that will seemingly be waved above all problems to make them go away.

Anyone - anyone - can promise hope. Anyone can promise change. Faith and hope are great ways to choose a religion, but not at all good ways to choose a human leader.

So, Missy, can you tell me how the “hope” that Obama offers translates into a successful, productive and unifying presidency?

She wrote back:

...No, I don’t think that everything wrong with our country and our world will be magically solved instantaneously at Obama’s inauguration....

...and continued to detail several policy differences between Obama and McCain that she supported.

I then said:

I don’t think that you believe the magic wand of “hope” will solve all the world’s ills, but I do think more than a few Obama supporters do believe something like that. That because Obama promises “hope”, he will do something…not sure what, but something….to cure the world. They won’t naively admit that they base their faith on this simple concept, but I see it a lot.

...that still does nothing to support the notion that Obama can be a good president. Can he? Sure. But I haven’t seen anything in your post that tells me why Obama - above all others - is the right choice.

If Joe Schmoe were to get up there and run for president, and offer you “hope” and “change” - would you vote for him? Probably not. If he offered to figure for more exploring energy alternatives before any new drilling, would you vote for him? That’s the same thing every Democrat offers. Same for several of the other platforms and talking points you mention. What is it about Obama, specifically, as a human being sets him apart so strikingly from all others that he is the man for you?

And it can’t be “hope” or “change” - anyone can promise that. We all know in today’s Washington that any and all campaign promises, by either side, are likely to be watered down, compromised, altered or simply forgotten when office is reached.

Where is this ability you believe he has to actually institute this “change”, how do you feel he has the best chance to bring them to fruition, and from where in his background (Senate, Congress, etc) does he draw the common sense and wisdom to lead us through national security and disaster crises?

At this point she hasn't responded, so I'd like to open the floor for debate.

What about Obama, specifically and personally, inspires you to believe he's the better choice for president on a practical level? It can't be in any way compared to McCain, Palin or any opposition, it has to be something detailing what about Obama in his history, experience, philosophy, wisdom, honor, whatever.... says to you, "Yes, this man will make the correct and wise decisions as Commander in Chief" and pull that lever.

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