Tuesday, November 06, 2012

What I Like About Obama: The Personal Reason

I believe that Barack Obama is the person most like me who will ever be president of the United States.  And the Obama family is the most like my family that will ever occupy the White House.

Barack Obama is a year younger than me.  I am conscious of being right on the cusp between the Baby Boomer generation and Generation X.  As I get older, I side more and more with the younger generation, the Xers.  Barack Obama is clearly a Gen Xer - a pragmatist who rebuilds basic institutions, willing to compromise to get practical reforms moving.  That is my attitude toward politics, large and small, as well.

Barack and Michelle Obama are meritocrats from financially modest backgrounds who made their way by academic success.  They finished their schooling at Harvard, which my wife and I, who did our graduate work at Yale, do not hold against them.

The Obamas are long and solidly married, and devoted parents. The Gruntleds married younger, so our kids are older, but I predict that Malia and Sasha Obama will likewise be successful students.  When Malia is ready for college in a couple of years, I imagine there will be stiff competition, especially between Columbia and Princeton, her parents' alma maters.

The Obamas are mainline Christians from a Reformed tradition of stewardship for society. Their faith informs their politics - including a firm sense that church and state should be separated for the good of each.

The Obamas were raised with the Civil Rights movement as the living chapter of the long sacred history of America, a heroic fulfillment of the long-denied promise of our nation's birth.  The Gruntleds see American history the same way. We have a triptych over our fireplace, surrounding the many family pictures: Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and above all, Jesus, in Rembrandt's rendition.

I feel a personal connection to Barack Obama that I am not likely to feel for any other president. I happily voted for him before, and again today.

22 comments:

pete delgado said...

We see the world through our own rose colored glasses don't we...

gruntled said...

What do you see through your rose-colored glasses?

pete delgado said...

That Romney is better for the country even though he doesn't send a tingle up or down my leg and even though I am working class and he is rich...

Wallabeast said...

Bless your little heart. You don't have to learn anything if you don't want to learn. Just stay at Centre and keep your blinders in place.

Kerri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kerri said...

I don´t think Gruntled is the one wearing blinders.

Anonymous said...

God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Republican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

gruntled said...

Wallabeast, do you have an argument to offer?

Anonymous, I don't see how your comment applies to anything I have written. Can you explain?

Anonymous said...

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

r. woodhouse said...

Meritocrates? Don't you think they both benefited from affirmative action programs?

gruntled said...

The Obamas probably did benefit from affirmative action in college admissions. But they proved themselves worthy of the gamble, as their law school careers, and subsequent legal careers, show.

r. woodhouse said...

They took the places of people who were more deserving...that's not fair. Fairness is Obama's mantra. He is a hypocrite at best.

gruntled said...

Overcoming difficulties that more privileged people don't face is what makes them deserving. That is why we have affirmative action.

r. woodhouse said...

They didn't overcome.. the were helped over, nothing wrong with that. They didn't do it on their own merit, that's all. Both had above averaged upbringing and maybe should have let someone really needy get the help,even if they might have not be a minority.

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Anonymous said...

"Fair" is almost never a helpful word in these discussions.

It isn't "fair" that one child is born into abject poverty to a drug-addicted, single teenage mom, while another child is born with two loving parents and a trust fund. The rich white kids who (we speculate) had better admission credentials than the Obamas didn't do it "on their own merit" either. They went to better schools, had tutors and enrichment opportunities, got to travel and have broader experiences, and had parents with post-graduate degrees who could help guide them through the process of preparing for and applying to college. None of that is the white kids’ (or their parents’) fault, but it’s also not exactly “fair.”

That “fair” word also gets abused by the other side in the constant (and ill-defined) exhortation for the rich to “pay their fair share.” I’m glad that Warren Buffet pays more in tax dollars than I do (because that’s the only way to make the system work) but no Democrat has ever explained to me just how many times more than me he has to pay to constitute his “fair share.” Should he pay 10 times more than me? 100 times? 1000? He doesn’t get 1000 votes on election day, the military doesn’t protect him 1000 times more, and the roads he drives on aren’t 1000 times better. None of that seems especially “fair.”

To be clear, I believe that both affirmative action for college admissions and a graduated income tax system are societal goods that should be maintained—I just wish we could all agree that the word “fair” is singularly unhelpful.

Anonymous said...

Affirmative action is a blunt instrument. It doesn't take into account important variables, like income, family background (or lack thereof) and other hardships. If you support Affirmative Action, go ahead and admit this. The best you can say for it is that on balance it makes up for inequities than it creates. But it does generate its own inequities that, at an individual level, are sometimes hard to swallow, both for the individuals affected and for the class to which they belong. Above all , if you're from the sort of privleged background that completely excludes you from the kind of remediation Affirmative Action is intended to provide, please keep your mouth shut about bitter white clingers.

Anonymous said...

Affirmative action is a blunt instrument. It doesn't take into account important variables, like income, family background (or lack thereof) and other hardships. If you support Affirmative Action, go ahead and admit this. The best you can say for it is that on balance it makes up for inequities than it creates. But it does generate its own inequities that, at an individual level, are sometimes hard to swallow, both for the individuals affected and for the class to which they belong. Above all , if you're from the sort of privleged background that completely excludes you from the kind of remediation Affirmative Action is intended to provide, please keep your mouth shut about bitter white clingers.

Anonymous said...

"makes up for MORE inequities than it creates" I mean to say.

Anonymous said...

"When Malia is ready for college in a couple of years, I imagine there will be stiff competition, especially between Columbia and Princeton, her parents' alma maters."

Meritocracy? A working class white male with the same accomplishments as Malia couldn't even dream of Columbia or Princeton. For her it's a shoe in.

r. woodhouse said...

Everyone is equal some are more equal than others...

Constructive Feedback said...

Prof Weston:

I have no interest in changing YOUR PERSONAL OPINION and VICARIOUS LIVING through the "Commander In Chief Of The US Allied Imperialist Military Machine".

You mentioned the word "Civil Rights".

From my perspective - as a Black male who is WATCHING those who wear the cloak of "The Civil Rights Organizations" - based on their work in the past when the laws allowed racial attacks to go on with impunity - I am forced to "personally" (meaning per my understanding) STRIP THEM of such a designation.
I can't force anyone to stop labeling themselves.

What I can do (and here is my challenge to you) is to "Distill The ESSENCE Of Civil Rights" and note that it was done to:

* Keep Black people from being murdered by people who exploited the particular cultural and legal framework within which they lived

* Keep Black children separated from a QUALITY EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE thus stunting their growth

* Serially attack "Black Community" commerce and business - thus preventing the funding of "Local Social Justice"

* Disrupt Healthy Lifestyles and relationships within the Black community

I ASK YOU, Prof Weston - SOCIOLOGIST - if we assume today that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL (as was always the case) and that man's BEHAVIOR is guided by INNATE HUMAN MOTIVATIONS, promoted by the CULTURAL CONSCIOUSNESS that he is raised within and then REFRACTED by THE LAW that defines boundaries - ......

Could you tell me, sir, What about TODAY'S CHALLENGES THAT BLACK PEOPLE FACE - regardless of who is in power in the American Government Overlay - is different from what Black people faced IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT - again - if we assume that ALL MEN ARE EQUAL and thus we don't apply the "Civil Rights Violation" label selectively - but instead have the audacity to do equal comparison to the CULTURES THAT PRODUCE HATEFUL PEOPLE that transact VIOLENCE or otherwise molest the interests of a community?

I am less interested in what YOU THINK ABOUT OBAMA than I am about your seeming inability to connect what you see as "Progress" in with what the NEGRO IS ACTUALLY EXPERIENCING on the street.

Is there a point at which this same "The Least Of These" specimen has GIVEN A CERTAIN QUANTITY OF HIS VALUABLES to a cause that was supposed to DEVELOP HIM but it turns out that it made him a CONSUMER rather than enable the INSTITUTIONS that he controls around him that was supposed to turn him into "The UN-Least Of These"?

From what I can see - sir - the balance of your confidence is expressed through COMPROMISED CRITICAL ANALYSIS about the situation - than you can point to strong evidence of absolute assent to "Social Justice" - as people who think like you have been marketing for many long decades.