Saturday, January 17, 2009

A rare political blog entry

You’ve probably noticed that I never make political comments on this blog. There is a good reason for this. I respect everyone’s views of the world, and personally consider myself to be apolitical. To paraphrase my old high school classmate and social commentator Stephen Carter, my own views on specific issues are diverse enough that no political party would probably want me.

That said, this week we are not only about to inaugurate our first African-American President of the United States, but the first President since John F. Kennedy who stands out as a great communicator: someone who seems to have the knack of speaking to our interests, acknowledging diverse points of view, and connecting us with our nobler instincts, particularly in a very challenging economic time.

The ability for the words we use to get people to believe in something larger than ourselves is truly magical: I’ve seen it happen in the workplace, as a counselor in training, and now on a much larger scale as we welcome a new leader. And while it has been fascinating to watch this Presidential campaign unfold over the last year, it has been even more fascinating to deconstruct the way Barack Obama speaks to people.

At a more societal level, we have perhaps seen the country finally make a right turn away from an era where fear and negative campaigning determine the outcome of an election, from either party. Hopefully we are starting to learn that the partisans of either stripe that you hear on talk shows and cable news channels are never going to solve our problems, because it is hard to fix anything when you marginalize 49% of the people you are speaking to. Let’s hope for a new era of consensus building, and perhaps on a more personal level, a fresh look at how we speak to each other. Good luck and Godspeed, President Obama.

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