November 10, 2012

changing . . . the times . . .

John K. Wilson interviews Ian Reifowitz about his book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity at In These Times . . .
The language of unity, and specifically the language of cross-ethnic, American national unity that Obama has used so often strikes me as clearly progressive because it is a direct contrast both to laissez-faire hyper-individualism as well as to racial bigotry and other forms of prejudice. If Obama can get a middle-aged, middle-class white American to feel a stronger connection with someone different from himself on the basis of their shared American-ness, then that first person is more likely to be supportive of progressive ideals broadly defined, whether it’s on the economy or immigration or even gay rights.

Ultimately, left and right are relative terms. They are meaningless without a comparison that defines “left of what?” and “right of what?” Obama is to the left of conservative Republicans on virtually every domestic issue. On foreign policy, as he said in 2002 when he came out against the Iraq war, he’s no pacifist, he’s not against all wars, just “dumb” ones.

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