The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope is President (then senator) Barack Obama’s call for an innovative kind of politics – a politics that joins Americans together, building upon and reclaiming the American dream. In this tell all book, Obama candidly reminisces upon his family life, childhood and religious convictions that helped define his present day political beliefs. In a time where so much is uncertain, Obama’s nonpartisan, humane and rational solutions are not only uplifting, but fill one with hope and compassion during his already excessively scrutinized presidency. The Audacity of Hope reaffirms our country’s potential in a sensible, confident political biography concentrated on Obama’s core values.
Similar to his first book Dreams From My Father, much of The Audacity of Hope is written in a memoir format. However, especially when writing about politics, Obama makvalueses some pretty bold arguments. First off, he is extremely critical of the political process as he feels that it makes it hard for politicians to remain true to their . “It is an American tradition to attribute the problem with our politics to the quality of our politicians” (Obama, 102) says Obama, even going on to carp those who call politicians “bums” or “morons”. In the following passages, it is clear that Obama’s time in the Senate gave him an inside look at politicians as he refers to them as “likeable folks” (Obama 103). While Obama asserts that politicians shouldn’t guarantee their full loyalty to one group or party, he accentuates the importance of remaining true to your beliefs and not comforting to a socialized standard. Moreover, Obama constructively criticizes the media for their partisanship and tendency to turn politicians into something they are not. Fox News, talk radio and bloggers are among those who Obama calls out for their partisanship on both sides of the political spectrum. Obama feels that the convenience and following that the media has allows them to operate in this way, urging them to change in order to create a more truthful media and news system. Lastly and arguably most importantly, Obama pleads for politicians to put in their due diligence on issues of significance, contending that they carefully consider each issue and proposed bill on a case-by-case basis. He asks that his colleagues quell their power hungry and selfish motives in order to bolster a more dynamic and efficient government.
While some of the arguments Obama puts forth are quite gallant and at times implausible, they do in fact reflect reality. Obama’s long track record ranging from small time Chicago politics to the U.S. Senate have provided him with a first hand, inside look at U.S. politics. Rather than making inconsistent and undeveloped claims, Obama uses his experience and morality to create sensible solutions to the political process. Especially when discussing the media, Obama exercised caution and class, offering them constructive criticism on how to fix their then broken reputation.
It is rare that you find a politician who can write prose in such an elegant fashion. However, Obama’s writing is concise and wise, indicative of a Harvard University scholar. From the nostalgic section on his youthful struggles where he experimented with “pot, booze and maybe a little blow” (Obama, 63) to the lucid outline of his future political goals, Obama writes with a hopeful and realistic passion. One key strength of Obama’s writing is his candor and maturity, stemming from tough but genuine experiences. This strength and vigor Obama possesses sparks hope and inspiration amongst readers.
If there is a weakness in this book, it would have to be the fact that Obama could have elaborated more on his childhood and past in general. For someone who hasn’t read Dreams From My Father, it would have been nice to hear more about his African roots and family history, which personally, I feel, is an underlining factor in his political beliefs.
The Audacity of Hope is a good choice for anyone looking to further understand the U.S. political process or get an inside look at politics in general. Obama goes into great detail about his experiences in the senate and how they shaped his political convictions. Referencing specific cases and incidents on the senate floor, Obama is able to give readers an idea of what life as a prominent politician is like. However, even more important than this inside look at politics is this book’s ability to give you an intimate glimpse at the man who wrote it, Barack Obama. In an era where his intentions are often questioned and doubted, The Audacity of Hope reaffirms all feelings of optimism. Personally, I feel that it is important for anyone with an interest in politics to read this book not only because of this optimistic sentiment, but because it helps you to better understand our president.