Saturday, December 15, 2007

Is A New Wave of Liberalism Returning to the Shores of America?

Matthew Kolut had an interesting article in the Huffington Post recapping the past and current century of American politics, with an interesting interpretation of what factors calculated the 'standard bearer' who would ultimately be elected. The three he picks out were crisis, vision, and charisma ('they arrived on the scene at a crisis point, articulated a new vision of the role of government, and possessed enough personal charisma to make the sale'), which he then uses to measure the current democratic candidates, who Kolut opens by describing thusly:

Barack Obama says he's running for president because "we find ourselves in a moment...that comes along once in a generation." Hillary is running because "we need a fundamentally new direction." John Edwards is running "to end the corrupt system in Washington, and return the power of this government back to the hard-working people of America." All three know one thing for certain: most
Americans feel the country is on the wrong track. Each of them has spent the past year or longer making the case that he or she is uniquely qualified to reverse that trend.
Consider the 2008 presidential front-runners from both parties. Beyond the many possible demographic "firsts" (woman / African-American / Italian-American / Mormon), think about a deeper question: could one of the current crop have the potential to set in motion a lasting transformation of the political landscape? Fifty years from now, will the name of one of today's candidates be used to describe an entire political age?

And later in the article says:

Assuming the public is ready, can one of these candidates articulate a coherent vision to lead the country into a new era? All of them come armed with plans: plans for health care, plans for troop withdrawal from Iraq, plans for restoring the middle class. But standard bearers bring more than an armful of three-ring binders to the Oval Office: they bring an overarching concept of the role government should play to address the challenges of the day. One defining characteristic of the age of insecurity is our interdependence on others. We are tied to a relentlessly competitive global economy that creates winners and losers among us. We face global threats like terrorism, pandemics, and environmental catastrophes. We are at the mercy of increasingly tight global markets for oil and gas. Our insecurities are also home grown, of course, as health care and the subprime mortgage meltdown spell disaster for increasing numbers of Americans. The politician who can synthesize these problems within a big picture and offer a positive way forward is the one who may become the next standard bearer.

And concludes with his opinion that Obama is the only candidate who:

Of the three, [sic] acknowledges the present opportunity in visionary terms: "We find ourselves in a moment that comes along once in a generation." It sounds like the rhetoric of an aspiring standard bearer. If he overcomes the current odds and wins the presidency, he will get his chance to make the most of this moment.

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