Obama!!

Given that its election night 2008 and I live in the nation’s capitol, I’m not sure that this post really requires content. But here are a few thoughts before I pass out:

1) Those Obama kids really do deserve that puppy.

2) The Obama campaign was the most elaborate and expensive campaign machine in history — and Obama himself displayed an intuitive grasp of how to go about it, kind of like a Federer on the tennis court. Just because McCain made it to the finals didn’t mean he had a chance at the championship.

3) This man makes it really difficult to be cynical!

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6 Responses to “Obama!!”

  1. William Bruntrager Says:

    Did you catch the shot of the American flag with Obama’s face over it after last night’s rally? Good stuff.

  2. David Says:

    I think that may have been the greatest moment any kid has ever experienced. Like, oh wow my dad’s been elected leader of the free world, we’re going to go live in a big mansion, here I am on a stage with thousands of people cheering for us and OMG A PUPPY!

  3. William Bruntrager Says:

    Also, I’ll comment on 3, because I can’t help myself. I’d replace it with “3) Listening to Obama, it’s hard to avoid the tendencies of hero worship and irrationally romanticizing government, even though I am aware of the dangerous consequences of said tendencies.”

    Anti-government does not equal cynical. People are good, that’s why we prefer to keep coercion and violence out of their lives.

  4. tripinchina Says:

    Your elaboration on #3 is fair — Obama does make one think that government can be “good” and that good government will fix problems.

    But just as being anti-government isn’t cyncial per se, my use of the word cynical wasn’t intended to convey simply anti-government feelings.

    When I say Obama makes it difficult to be cynical, I mean Obama makes it difficult to dismiss hope with regard to the future of our civilization.

    Here’s what I mean: We currently have social institutions/processes in place that are destroying the planet — and indeed shaping our behavior such that we’ll ignore this. We generally ignore the scope of manmade depravity even though we see people suffering around us. We are going headlong into ecological disaster even though we see the warning signs. It’s a grim state of affairs.

    But the idea that a social institution as rigid as the US government could change significantly, and that people who have no relation to each other could come together to actually precipitate this change, does give one a certain glimmer of hope about the future!

    More broadly I think one of the problems with libertarianism is that even as it seeks to challenge state legitimacy, it still frames everything in terms of “state” and “anti-state” without pausing to think about how the state works. There’s no thought given to power as such. If everyone is a rational free actor, why do people obey the state? How are individuals fit into the anatomy of power that the state needs to serve its goals? (and once you answer those questions, ask: how is corporate power different from state power?)

  5. William Bruntrager Says:

    That there is hope for the world in the fact of people coming together and cooperating in order to solve big problems, I am happy to accept.

    That the election of Barack Obama is an instance of people coming together to solve big problems, I reject.

    It’s great that people care about more than just themselves. But government is like a mathematical function that takes feelings of altruism and togetherness, and mutual benefit as an input and outputs selfishness and rent-seeking.

    People obey the state because it’s not rational to do otherwise. The fact that I pay taxes doesn’t mean I think that they are just; it means I don’t want to go to jail. If you have anything better to do than think about politics, it’s not particularly rational to get upset about it, either, because you can’t change anything anyway. It’s not quite false consciousness, it’s more like not caring enough to look at the evidence on how the government works.

    Oh, and read Cato Unbound this month.

  6. tripinchina Says:

    The Cato article is pretty apt. Since I went to the Cato website which I distinctly do not like to do, you should check out what Chomsky had to say about Obama: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh7ps1KWl_M

    “People smoke obey the state because they are rational” — you know I’m gonna disagree with statements of that ilk because I think people are more complicated than that, hence state domination is more subtle. The threat of coercion is not the sum total of state power. And the illusion that you can’t change anything anyway, hence it’s best to just go along with the status quo, *is* false consciousness.

    I doubt that there is hope for our civilization in its present form, and I don’t think electing Obama is or will be in itself the solution to any of our pressing problems. But Obama has a potent symbolic value for people that is pretty cool to watch. Lots of optimism make it difficult for me to wallow in pessimism as I’m accustomed to do.

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