Tuesday 6 November 2012
Devouring Books: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
I know. You're all sick of election talk, you want to cast your vote (you do want to cast your vote, don't you?) and then forget about the whole sorry business for three years until the time comes when you have to pick some other dude (Or chick? Come on America, it's about time!) to run your country for the next four years. But the thing is- I really really like US politics, I really really wish that I could vote today (take a little guess at who I'd vote for) and frankly, I've had this book on my shelf for four years (oh yes, that's right) and when the hell else was I going to read it? The next time Obama runs... Oh no, that's right, he's done now, isn't he?
So yeah. Prime book reading time, I think.
There's this bit in Angels in America, where Louis and his new lover are arguing over politics. Louis is a staunch Democrat (not even a Democrat, really, but something much further to the left of that which, conveniently serves all his own interests which should tell you everything you need to know about Louis). Anyway, in the midst of this argument, they trade insults over their favourite Presidents' books, wherein Louis implies that Reagan didn't write An American Life, and his lover suggests that JFK didn't write Profiles in Courage. (I kind of regret bringing this up now, because it just took me AGES to try and find that quote. But I'm going with it!) Now, I don't know if Obama wrote this, but I'm kind of inclined to believe that he did- I've read Dreams from my Father, and the authorial voice is basically identical, and I agreed with pretty much all the things he was saying, which is usually an indicator of the presence of Obama.
But even if he didn't write it, I think we have to consider 2 things: 1) that he wouldn't let things that he didn't agree with go out under his name, and 2) whoever wrote it sure as hell can write.
I mean, seriously. Non-fiction doesn't normally catch and hold my attention the way this book did, and it's rarely as well written as this. I thought this when I was reading Dreams from my Father, and I thought it again with this- Obama could probably have gone into writing if the whole politics thing didn't work out for him! I mean, I think we all know that it did (to varying degrees of success, depending on who you speak to, but still) but it could have been an option, I think. He just... manages to make things that could have really easily been really boring sound really interesting, and maybe that's just because I agree with him on basically everything (No, really, GO AND VOTE FOR OBAMA FOR ME) but I really do think that he has a way with words, too.
The Audacity of Hope is more or less a political manifesto, a way for Obama to say, "I think these things aren't working, and this is what I'd do to change them." This means that it's difficult to read it now without considering whether he's actually carried out his dreams, his hopes; whether or not, given the position to change things, he's been successful in doing so. And you know what? I feel like... While he maybe hasn't done everything that he wanted to, and while he maybe hasn't been as successful as some people would have liked, I feel like, on the whole, he's made things better rather than worse. He's had the interests of the people, and not just the rich people, at heart through his whole presidency, and given another 4 years, who knows what he could do?
There are just two things I want to highlight from the book (because I only finished it about 2 hours ago, and I have work in an hour, but dammit, did I want to get this post written today!) that gave me pause for thought. The first is how many indicators there were that he kind of had no intentions to run for President- he talks about meeting with a senior senate member, who advises him to wait before he runs for the presidency, and he talks a lot about missing out on his daughters lives by having to be away from them so often. It seems really strange to me, then, that he decided to run for President when he did, but I guess that with politics, you kind of have to go with the momentum and take your chance because it might be your only one. And... I have sort of forgotten the other thing. But I'm sure it was AWESOME.
So. The Audacity of Hope has given me nothing but warm fuzzy feelings for the President, and it sure would be awesome if you voted for him, but I'm sure you're tired of having people who it has nothing to do with (only American politics affect the whole world, as I'm sure you know) telling you what to do. So I'm not going to order you around, and I'm also not going to tell you that it doesn't matter who you vote for, just vote; because frankly, if all the Republicans stayed at home... I wouldn't really have a problem with that. But then I'm an intolerant ass, politically speaking.
Propaganda over. Proceed with your everyday lives (and GO AND VOTE. You know, if you can.)