domingo, 9 de novembro de 2008
Walzer e o futuro de Obama
A revista eletrônica Dissent de 05 de novembro de 2008 traz as primeiras impressões do pensador americano Michael Walzer sobre o futuro de Obama.
NOW WE need to know what kind of a president he will be. Watching returns with my wife, younger daughter and grandchildren in a Greenwich Village apartment, I wept with relief when it became clear that Obama had won—because of the high hopes riding on his candidacy and the sense of desolation and demoralization that would have followed on his defeat. Though the community-organizing style of his campaign suggested to many people that we were watching the birth of a social movement, I suspect that what we have seen is very different: a charismatic candidacy whose charisma would not have survived electoral defeat. How will it fare after victory?
Once Obama starts to govern, charisma will not be enough; he will need the support of organized and mobilized constituencies. So we may see the development of movement politics, as we did in the 1930s and ‘60s, not during but after the election campaign. Obama will need political mobilization outside the Beltway—in the fight for national health care, for a more egalitarian (realistically, a less regressive) tax system, and for new policies on energy, education, immigration, and international trade. One of the first tests of his presidency will be his readiness and ability to stimulate a movement politics that doesn’t depend on the charisma of one man, but is grounded on a coherent program for social change.
He will be, I think (and hope), a more radical president than he wants to be. He has run, smartly, from the center; he has spoken well against the bitter partisanship of Washington politics these last eight years; he aspires to unite a racially divided nation. But the deepening recession will push him (as it pushed Roosevelt, another centrist) to adopt policies that will be fiercely opposed on the right.
Even his proposal on health care will encounter fierce opposition, despite the fact that it falls far short of a single payer plan—remember the losing fight for the Clintons’ proposal, which was intended as a compromise with the insurance companies (but they weren’t ready for compromise). Perhaps policy debates will be conducted on a higher plane under President Obama than they have been under President Bush, but we will not be free of partisanship.
There will be difficult battles, which Obama will have to fight and win, and in those battles he will need the help of partisans. A revitalized Democratic party would be a big help; so would stronger labor unions, able once again to organize large numbers of workers; so would a resurgent civil rights movement and, despite (or because of) Hillary’s defeat, a newly energized feminism. And here at Dissent, we too have a role to play. In these potentially “transformational” moments, ginger groups on the left, full of high spirits and new ideas, can make a difference. Obama’s victory is hugely important, but it remains an opportunity that has to be seized.