Monday, February 25, 2008

call to action

The other criticism I hear of Barack Obama on conservative radio (I heard it from a host named Mark Levin) that was repeated in the New York Times today, is the idea that Obama represents the kind of liberal who will cast the government as saviors of a passive public who will have nothing required of them. The proof text both on the radio and in William Kristol's editorial, actually from Michelle Obama, says nothing of the kind.

"Barack Obama... is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."

Every phrase insists that "you" need to to take action (put down, move out, push yourself, engage, get involved and get informed). The role for Obama is as an inspirer, not of dependence but of action. It takes quite a lot of effort to twist that message into the standard conservative trope against the liberal state. Here's WIlliam Kristol's attempt:

"We don't have to fight or sacrifice to help our country. Our uninvolved and uninformed lives can be changed --by our choosing Barack Obama. America can become a nation to be proud of--by letting ourselves be led by Barack Obama."

The only people who seem to think that Obama has a magic wand are his critics; that's not what his supporters see, expect, or desire.

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