• News
  • Celebrities
  • Finance
  • Crypto
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Health
  • Others

Obama the Visionary Minimalist

Obama-sunstein-3.jpg
Obama-sunstein-3.jpg

President-elect Barack Obama (WDCpix)

*“And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help and I will be your president too.”

So said President-elect Barack Obama, in one of the most revealing sentences in his victory speech Tuesday. In his rejection of standard political divisions, his emphasis on “e pluribus unum,” and his gracious inclusion of those whose support he has “yet to earn,” we can find a clue to what makes our new president-elect so remarkable — perhaps even unique in the nation’s long history.

Obama-150x150_3958.jpg
Obama-150x150_3958.jpg

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Some public officials are minimalists. They do not like to reject the fundamental commitments of their fellow citizens. On environmental questions, sex equality, national security and economic policy, they try to bracket our deepest disagreements. They seek to obtain a consensus on what to do — not on why to do it.

Minimalists favor their approach because they think, as a pragmatic matter, it is most likely to work. They also insist that their approach, putting fundamental differences to one side, shows respect to their fellow citizens.

Political minimalism has a distinguished tradition in U.S. politics. In recent history, President George H.W. Bush stands as the leading minimalist. To the extent that Bush succeeded, especially in foreign affairs, it was because he enlisted diverse people, and diverse views, on behalf of the policies he chose.

Other public officials are visionaries. They have a large-scale vision about the direction in which the nation should go. They believe in big steps, not small ones.

Above all, these visionaries seek to alter the nation’s self-conception. In changing policy on the economy, or on national defense, they are entirely comfortable with asserting that their vision is the superior one and that alternative visions should be rejected. When they succeed, they transform how the nation understands itself.

Our greatest presidents — including Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt — have been visionaries. In recent American history, President Ronald Reagan stands as the leading visionary.

Obama is something new in American politics — and not just for the obvious reasons. He is a visionary minimalist. This is a key both to his extraordinary campaign and to his unique promise. It even helps explain his conception of public service.

Obama’s minimalism lies in his consistent rejection of the standard social divisions — between red states and blue states, liberal and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. As he said in his 2004 Democratic Convention speech, “We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.”

Reagan.jpg
Reagan.jpg

Ronald Reagan (Wikimedia)

Obama shows unfailing respect for those with competing views. In designing policies — on climate change, tax reform, energy conservation, foreign policy — he attempts to produce solutions that will accommodate, rather than repudiate, the defining commitments of his fellow citizens. Even on the most divisive issues of separation of church and state, Obama favors approaches that will attract support from all sides.

But Obama is a visionary too. Unlike most minimalists, he is willing to think big.

Thus Obama recognizes and celebrates the individualist strain in American culture. But he draws attention to a counterpoint — one that emphasizes mutual obligations.

As he said in 2004 and has often repeated since, “If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. . . . It’s that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper – that makes this country work.”

With the election of a new president, I expect that we will soon enter a novel period of American life, in which a commitment to public service, sacrifice and a sense of mutual obligations will play a far larger role. That commitment will be anything but partisan. It will be felt in red states and blue states alike.

And it will be made possible, and fueled, by the visionary minimalism of America’s president-elect.

*Cass R. Sunstein is Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard Law School. He will be the Harry Kalven Visiting Professor at University of Chicago Law School in January 2009. His most recent book, which he co-wrote with Richard Thaler, is “Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness.” His books include “Are Judges Political? An Empirical Analysis of the Federal Judiciary” and “The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever.” *

Discussion & Comments (0)

    Recent Articles

    • Things You Should Know about North America

      Things You Should Know about North America

      Get to know more about North America.

    • Eurovision 2010 Paula Seling Unpredictable Contest

      Eurovision 2010 Paula Seling Unpredictable Contest

      Paula Seling's experience on the Eurovision stage led her to declare that "Eurovision is an unpredictable contest". Which may explain the success of the young Lena from Germany, about whom the predictions before the event did not offer much chances for victory.

    • VIPRow.me - The Best Sports Streaming Website Today

      VIPRow.me - The Best Sports Streaming Website Today

      Have you ever contemplated creating a user-friendly site dedicated to sports-related free live streaming channels?

    • Learn How To Download, Install, And Use The Xnxubd 2022 Frame App

      Learn How To Download, Install, And Use The Xnxubd 2022 Frame App

      XNXUBD 2022 Nvidia users are able to watch thousands of videos and other contents online. XNXUBD 2022 Nvidia New is a piece of software that enables people to watch videos online without having to pay for memberships. On a graphics card, the XNXubd also provides some of the best gaming and virtual reality experiences.

    • Xvideostudio Video Editor Apk Free Download For Pc Full Version In 2022

      Xvideostudio Video Editor Apk Free Download For Pc Full Version In 2022

      A new edition of the Video Editor Apk for xVideostudio.Video Studio has all the latest features, including support for multiple video download formats in HD, FHD, and even 4K resolutions.

    • 9 Best Lotion For Masturbation - Popular Choice For 2022

      9 Best Lotion For Masturbation - Popular Choice For 2022

      Masturbation is a common activity for men and women. It's a natural and risk-free way to explore your body, experience pleasure, and release sexual tension.

    • Reasons Why You Need To Stop Watching Movies From Sflix

      Reasons Why You Need To Stop Watching Movies From Sflix

      Without having to sign up or pay anything, you can watch movies online for free with SFlix. It has more than 10,000 movies and television shows.

    • Coi Leray Mom And Dad's Family History & Wife, Explained

      Coi Leray Mom And Dad's Family History & Wife, Explained

      Coi Leray Collins (born May 11, 1997) is a rapper from the United States. Leray started publishing songs to SoundCloud in 2014, and in 2018 she released her breakthrough track "Huddy" as well as her first mixtape, Everythingcoz.

    • Listen And Download Music On MyFreeMP3 For Free

      Listen And Download Music On MyFreeMP3 For Free

      Are you in a bind and looking for a place to obtain free mp3 songs? Never again will you need to bother, since this article has everything necessary to obtain your solution. Download free music from MyfreeMP3.com, one of the world's most popular websites.