Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Audacity of Hope



I'm a hopeless Obama fan. I have been for a while. I don't know what it is that hooked me to him: He just seems so genuine, honest, and good-natured. It's hard to find that in politicians nowadays.

I think I was really drawn to it because I picked up the audiotape version of it where he reads it himself. He's such a good public speaker. When you actually hear him say it and read it, it's so much more powerful.

Last summer, I read his first book, Dreams of My Father, and that book inspired me to pick up his next book The Audacity of Hope. Dreams of My Father, I found, was more interesting because it was a memoir of understanding where he came from. Where were his roots? Who was his father? How was he raised? It was more of a story. It was extraordinarily interesting.

On the other hand, The Audacity of Hope is about, as his subtitle reads, his thoughts on reclaiming the American dream. The book is broken down into sections where he discusses his thoughts on how certain things came to be (presenting historical perspectives), why believes what he does, what is wrong with the thing itself, and how it can be fixed in the future. For example, he has chapters on politics, family, the constitution, values, Republicans and Democrats, opportunity, faith, race, and the surrounding world. He is quite honest in what he thinks. It's refreshing.

There's actually a Wiki that gives quick summaries of his beliefs per chapter. Check it out here.

There were only a few brief moments where Barack left his musing and actually told us about his life, like his earlier book. Those parts hooked me the most because I find them more telling about who he is as a person. He can say his beliefs, but I want to see how he lives his life too.

Barack mentioned that a woman on the street told him that she didn't think he could top his first book. I don't think he did, but I didn't think it was a terrible read. Another point that sticks with me is that every time Barack met with people on the campaign trail or when he was organizing, people kept telling him not to go to Washington because he would change. Everyone was worrying that someone so nice would become corrupted. "You're too nice for politics" was a common comment that he heard. People still say it today and said it during his presidential run. I hope he doesn't, and I don't think he will.

I also really enjoyed hearing about Barack's views on family and his retelling of his own immediate family stories. He tells of how he and Michelle met in Chicago. Michelle was the lawyer he was interning for. He tells of their early hardships as a couple, especially as Barack's career intensifies once he becomes a Senator. He talks of the difficulties of pursuing his career and of how much mothers have to sacrifice for a family. His views are very realistic and interesting. He's been there; he knows.

Since this book came out in 2006, it spurred his popularity. Many beliefs from his 2008 campaign come directly from this. He even talks about financial crises and what he thinks should happen in case of that (which is what's happening now). The title spurs from a speech he gave, which was also brought up at the end of his first book as well. It comes from a speech Obama gave at the 2004 Democratic National Convention:

"In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here -- the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope!"

So, what do you think of Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope?

1 comment:

Grace Consolee said...

RIGHT ON, YOU GOT THE BOOK DOWN TO THE POINT. AND YES, OBAMA DID SEEM A BIT TOO GOOD FOR POLITICS, BUT ISN'T THAT WHAT WE NEED IN THIS COUNTRY? SOMEONE TO SHAKE THINGS UP AND MAKE THINGS MORE INTERESTING. SEEMED AS THOUGH POLITICS HAD BECOME STAGNANT. NOTHING INTERESTING HAPPENED ANYMORE. WHILE IN OTHER COUNTRIES PEOPLE SPOKE WITH GREAT ENTHUSIASM ABOUT POLITICS, PEOPLE IN THE US TEND TO STRAY FROM THE SUBJECT. IT'S A PITY, REALLY.