Thank you, President Obama

Today I read some exerpts from a recent Obama speech that I would like to share with readers (here is the source).

I've been an interested observer of American politics for some years now, and what I see and hear too often tempts me to cynicism. All too rare are genuine thoughtfulness or wisdom, and so I like to highlight it whenever I find it.

In his remarks, the president certainly allows us to see some of his ideological commitments, which are often quite different from my own (I certainly do not believe that we suffer from "too little government"). Nevertheless, it seems he really does endeavor to rise above the partisan name-calling and slogan-repitition that currently deafens our political "discourse" to invite us to think more clearly and dialogue more earnestly, as our nation desperately needs to do. So thank you Mr. Obama:

"What troubles me is when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad," Obama said after receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree. "When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us."

Government, he said, is the roads we drive on and the speed limits that keep us safe. It's the men and women in the military, the inspectors in our mines, the pioneering researchers in public universities.

The financial meltdown dramatically showed the dangers of too little government, he said, "when a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly led to the collapse of our entire economy."
But Obama was direct in urging both sides in the political debate to tone it down. "Throwing around phrases like 'socialists' and 'Soviet-style takeover,' 'fascists' and 'right-wing nut' — that may grab headlines," he said. But it also "closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation," he said.

"At its worst, it can send signals to the most extreme elements of our society that perhaps violence is a justifiable response."



Blogger kg said...

Wow, that was excellent, and I saw it here first!
Thank you!

9:06 PM, May 01, 2010  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Like I have told many of my left leaning friends about Bush and my right leaning friends about Obama: "Most politicians try to do what they believe is best for the country. They are not evil, awful, fascist, horrible people, but people who try their best to do the right thing. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't"

I think the problem is true in the church today as well. For some reason we assume the worst about people, and instead of trying to help we end up offering critiques not solutions. I guess in politics/church it is easier to offer criticism instead of dialogue.

1:38 PM, May 03, 2010  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

You know, Stephen, they say that postmoderns like us excell at offering critiques but not solutions. We deconstruct every idea we come upon, but find building new ones difficult. That is what they say, anyways, and if it is true, I suppose we should see it in our cultural dialogues.

9:00 AM, May 04, 2010  
Blogger Nance said...

It's nice to hear a politician use the word "compromise"--without demonizing it.

3:46 PM, May 05, 2010  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

When I was a child, we were taught in elementary school that "compromise" was an American political virtue. Remember the "Great Compromise" between large states and small states that led to the bicameral Legislature that combined both proportional representation and "flat" representation?

Now we are so ideologically polarized, and entrenched, compromise has become quite difficult. We need to learn to celebrate it again, so I too am glad to hear the president lift it up as a good thing.

1:28 PM, May 06, 2010  

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