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[icon] Why Scottro is wrong - Patti
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Subject:Why Scottro is wrong
Time:12:30 pm
Yesterday, scottro posted this (in a friends-locked entry, which I'm quoting with permission):
Nothing to see here. Time to go back to living your lives like nothing is changing.

Because nothing is.

Enough with the fabricated hype already. Enough of the silly hope. Those of you who think Obama will do amazing things are fooling yourselves.

Scott's wrong. I firmly believe that, and yet it's taken me a while to be able to articulate why he's wrong.

Obama inspires people. Hope and optimism are powerful things. If he becomes a great president, it won't be because of what he's done so much as what he inspires other people to do. Change is generally incremental, not quantum. It comes not from one large effort, but from a lot of tiny little efforts that add up to something bigger.

"Nothing is changing" is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you firmly believe that, then you won't make an effort to change things. You won't look for solutions, or think about ways to improve the world. Doom and gloom inspire doom and gloom. You won't solve problems that you don't believe can be solved.

If you believe that change is possible, you see the world differently. You think about ways to solve problems, ways to make things better. You make just a little bit of effort to make the world a better place. You probably won't come up with dramatic solutions to complex problems, but maybe you'll help clean up the neighborhood park. Maybe you'll spend a few hours painting the community center. Maybe you'll help someone out just a little bit more than you would otherwise.

Obama's true strength lies in numbers. If one person sits to think about a complex problem he probably won't come up with a solution. Ten people thinking about the problem probably won't solve it. What about a million people? If a million people think about the same problem, one of them will probably come up with an insight that everyone else has overlooked-- and he did it because he thought things could be better. He'll share his insight with others, and they'll be more receptive to his arguments because they too think things can be better.

And now ten people see a way that things can improve, and maybe they do just a little bit to make things better. Maybe they each tell ten people, and those ten people do just a little bit. Eventually you wind up with a million people, each believing that there's a better way and doing just a tiny bit to make it happen.

How did Obama come from behind to win the election? He inspired a tremendous grass-roots effort. Hell, he got jpmassar to go out and campaign, and I'm sure that nobody was more surprised by that than JP. His choice of "Yes we can" as a campaign slogan was brilliant. "We" is a powerful word, and one that defies the laws of mathematics by being bigger than the sum of its parts.

Do I think that Obama is the messiah? No. Does he shit gold bricks and fart rainbows? No. Is he the answer to all our problems? No, of course not. Does he inspire people, make them hopeful? Yes, absolutely. The reason Obama can be a great president is because he helps lots of people to believe that things can be better, and believing is what makes it possible.
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scottro
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-21 09:39 pm (UTC)
Well, it wasn't really up my ass. I didn't like Bush either.

Background on me, I'm Libertarian.

But to comment on Patti's well-written post. I DO think change is possible and I DO think there are solutions to ALL of our problems. I just don't think Obama is the guy to do it because I disagree with taxing the crap out of people to fund all sorts of programs. Bush spent like a college kid with a VISA card in a liquor store and look where we are.

When I said "nothing is changing", I was referring to the fact that he's just another democrat, and he will probably run things like just another democrat. Of course, when the economy rebounds (it's inevitable), he'll get all the credit for it just like Clinton did. Presidents don't cause recessions, nor do they cause times of prosperity. They just get the credit because they are the most visible.

My biggest problem with the whole Obama thing is that I don't understand why people are inspired by him and why he gives them hope, other than the fact that he's black. He doesn't have any kind of history of doing anything great (aside from becoming the first black president). when I said "fabricated hope", I meant that all of this positive outlook (while most likely very constructive) is based on nothing more than the fact that Bush is gone. And yes, that's a good thing, but it's just so hyped up around Obama, yet there's no basis for it at all.

If someone could explain to me why Obama is so inspiring (aside from the fact that he's a great speaker and has good speech writers), I sure would appreciate the insight.

I'm listening Patti.

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tiurin
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-21 09:32 pm (UTC)
Considering the ineptitude of the previous administration, it's arguable that a president could just sit on their ass and already be a change for the better by not starting any ill-planned wars and not putting political officers in the leadership of scientific agencies.
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wordweaverlynn
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-21 09:55 pm (UTC)
I agree with you, but I also can see other changes:

* in the culture of the government itself. Weirdly enough, agency heads are being appointed on the basis of expertise, rather than ideology or personal bonds. No more veterinarians in charge of (human) women's health. This will make a big difference in the ways that agencies operate, as well as in the ends they pursue. (Friends at NOAA and the EPA have been practically orgasmic over the coming changes.)

* in the content of executive orders. Obama promised to review and if necessary change Bush's executive orders. Stem cell research is likely to happen, and Guantanamo will be a different place. These are significant changes, if you have Parkinson's disease or prefer not to use your tax dollars to fund torture and imprisonment without trial.

* in a very different attitude the world will take toward us. Most of the rest of the world seems to be breathing a huge sigh of relief that the trigger-happy cowboy is gone without having actually nuked anybody. Obama has already pointed out that there are other ways to deal with problems than tanks and bombs -- a thought that appears never to have occurred to Bush.

* in a very different attitude toward the Constitution and the Presidency. Obama seems to have some respect for the Constitution, including checks and balances, the rule of law, and the importance of the Bill of Rights. This one has yet to be proved, but the signs look good.

All this is in addition to that elusive quality of leadership.

I have hope. I disagree with the man on a fair number of issues, but I absolutely respect his integrity, his intelligence, and his competence.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-21 10:08 pm (UTC)
Oh sure. But even if you disagree with everything that Obama stands for, even if you believe that he's just another politician, you can still see that he makes people believe in a better future.
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timprov
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-21 09:56 pm (UTC)
Change is generally incremental, not quantum.

I know I'm being pedantic and off-point here, but I feel obligated to point out that those two things are not only not opposite but very nearly synonyms.
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rahaeli
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-22 12:29 am (UTC)
Ha. I was coming into the comments to point out the very same thing. *g*
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jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-21 11:48 pm (UTC)
Just to be clear, I did not coin the campaign slogan 'Yes we can'.

(-:

(It would be really interesting to know who did. We know the
story of 'Fired Up, Ready to Go!' but I've never read anything
about where that came from.)



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scottro
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-22 12:11 am (UTC)
OK, every time I think I've said something well, someone like Patri comes along and does a much better job of it.

What he said.

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prock
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-22 12:12 am (UTC)
I think Obama will inspire people to accept a trillion dollar deficit in 2008

Huh?

That was Bush, not Obama. Or maybe it was Paulson/Bernanke.

They seem, for some odd reason, to be bad at counting the cost. I would rather have a president who acted effectively (or not at all) than one who inspired people to spend other people's money.

So you think Carter and Clinton were better presidents than Reagan?
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-22 02:30 am (UTC)
Why do you assume inspiring people *in government* when I say talk about inspiring people? Why assume that thinking about how to solve problems means spending other peoples' money to do it?
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filthy_habit
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-22 01:40 am (UTC)
You've articulated pretty much what I felt all along. It explains not just my optimism for the Obama administration, but it also explains why Bush was such an epic FAIL.

The Obama wave is ever more powerful simply because of the contrast.
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[icon] Why Scottro is wrong - Patti
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