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.)
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I wish Americans were as fired up about today as you are. I'm sick to death of the campaign, which really has been run for the last two years, but I'm always excited, come election time.ReplyDelete
It IS exciting! Democracy in action etc. PLUS I just imagine Josh from The West Wing FREAKING OUT all day and it is amusing. :)Delete
Have you been watching him on Twitter? People have been punking him all day. It's great.Delete
Great post. I have this book sitting on my shelf, wish I'd read it in time for today now! I'm not entitled to vote in the US, but for the sake of us all, I hope Obama wins!ReplyDelete
I know right?! It's really a good read, definitely worth having a look at at some point (if you can BEAR to, depending on how good today goes!)Delete
Oh man I wish I could vote today! I can't fathom how anyone could be undecided about who to vote today. And you are right, what happens in America affects the rest of the world so it is kind of our business too.ReplyDelete
I've been curious about this book for years; I tend to avoid non-fiction unless it's Bill Bryson. I'm glad to see that you found it interesting, I suppose I might give it a go at some point.
I so so so wish I could vote today! I wish I could vote WAY more than I care about voting here (mainly because I live in a Conservative safe seat, but still.)Delete
Haha, soooo with you on avoiding non-Bill Bryson non-fiction, but this really is good! Not Bill Bryson good, but still, good! Especially if you like Obama, which I really do! :)
I wish I had your enthusiasm for the election and politics in general cos right now I am SO TIRED of the election.ReplyDelete
That said, I've heard good things about this from a whole bunch of people and I'd like to check it out. I might wait until the whole election stuff calms down a bit. Or a lot. You know, whatever.
YOU BETTER HAVE VOTED/BE PLANNING TO VOTE ALLEY. *looks all threatening*Delete
But don't worry, it will soon all be over for a little bit! And then you can vote for Hilary in 2016! (SO not going to happen. But I would love that.) But yeah, read this! When you can stomach Obama again because his face isn't being shoved in yours all the time (Well... less so, anyway. Probably.)
I WILL vote. I haven't yet but I'm waiting for work to be done. But I WILL.Delete
It's not so much I can't stomach Obama right now, it's that I can't stomach any politicians at the moment. When Twitter is less people yelling about voting and politics and ARGH THE OTHER SIDE IS THE WORST THING EVER, then I will read this
Aw, my twitter's just like 'Hey I voted it was awesome!' it's all really cute! But if I WAS allowed to vote, I'd totally be like THE OTHER SIDE IS THE WORST and I would be correct.Delete
Also, yeah, this book is allllll the politics, so you should probably not read it juuust now.
GOOD GIRL FOR NEARLY VOTING
Even before this comment thread I planned on sending you an email when I voted so you would knowDelete
:D YAY! I'm so excited to get that email!Delete
I voted!!! And voted Obama. Fingers crossed...ReplyDelete
Actually, maybe you can help me. My mother says that Obama admitted in his book that he sold cocaine. Can you verify this for me?
In Dreams from my Father, he says that he did some cocaine, but he NEVER sold it! Cause that would be really really really BAAAAAAD, for a Presidential candidate, I reckon. But yeah, he did it but didn't sell it. So your mum LIED heheheDelete
No, my mom just gets confused. And listens to everything Fox News has to say. *sigh*Delete
Thanks for letting me know!
*sigh* indeeed. But yeah, it's just the little bit of snorting, nothing to worry about ;) heheDelete
I'm a Brit who is really hoping Obama wins tonight. Like you, I've read both of his books. I liked this one but preferred Dreams From my Father, it was surprisingly honest.ReplyDelete
I don't know which I prefer actually! I did like Dreams From My Father a lot, and I think it definitely revealed more about him as a person, but The Audacity of Hope reveals more about his politics, which frankly, as far as we're concerned, is kind of what's important about him, you know?Delete
Re: honesty, I'm thinking he wrote Dreams From My Father when he wasn't necessarily even thinking about running for President, whereas with The Audacity of Hope, he must have been a lot closer to making that decision. OR I'm just totally cynical.
I voted for Obama, of course :) And now I'm anxiously watching the election coverage and biting my nails hoping that he can win Florida and Ohio.ReplyDelete
I remember when this book first came out - I worked at Waldenbooks and this book was selling like crazy, and it was the first time I really heard of Obama. Sadly I STILL haven't read it, but I read Dreams From My Father and that was a REALLY good autobiography. And I'm pretty sure that this book wouldn't change my mind about how much I like him. So yay!
(I wish you could vote in our elections!)