E's Reviews > The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
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's review
Jun 07, 08

bookshelves: politics-history
Read in March, 2008

Whether the reader agrees or disagrees with Obama's politics is of course the greatest factor in his or her enjoyment of the book. As an Obama supporter, I was a biased reader and indeed very impressed by his writing and reasoning. However, this book represents the core of his politics and is not simply the icing on the cake.

First of all, it must be noted that I was rather worried that he would disappoint as an author. Having read several politicians' books, I was used to that excessively friendly, angelic style meant to obscure the signs of ghostwriters and the general hypocrisy of compromising politics. (For example, Madeleine Albright's wailing about the inexplicable inhumanity toward juvenile war victims in Sudan looked rather over-the-top when conflated with her attempts to justify every U.S. bombing campaign she supported.) However, in THE AUDACITY OF HOPE the author avoids making promises he can't keep.

His approach to politics is based on the assumption that decency, optimism, and a willingness to hear the arguments of the opposition and understand their motivations is the only foreseeable path toward change in America. Everything else results either in a stalemate with both sides angry, or with a compromise wherein one side shortchanged. Cynics would call Obama's approach compromising, but compromising does not involve truly engaging the opposition with the hopes of finding a solution - it denotes abandoning one's own principles for the sake of personal political success. Having many friends with different political beliefs from my own, the book convinced me that JUST BEING RIGHT DOESN'T DO ANYTHING. With upfront respect and understanding, it is indeed possible to somehow discuss divisive issues like abortion, the war, gay rights, and universal healthcare, without insulting or simply silencing each other.

In closing, it must be noted that my grandmother who has voted Republican in every presidential election since the 1940's, has been known to make rather off-the-cuff racist remarks, and reads Ann Coulter, has also read THE AUDACITY OF HOPE and promptly vowed to vote for Obama in November. She may hold beliefs that I deplore, but Obama was able to appeal to her with his basic approach of optimism about America and respect toward all Americans. Such anecdotes of Obama causing party-crossover has been related before in many moments of this election year, but since it's my personal experience and I never, ever thought I would ever be voting with my grandmother for the same candidate, I cannot emphasize my awe enough. For me at least, this magnificent familial achievement is proof that his audacity of hope is in fact not at all naive.

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