Blogging is a strange occupation - a solitary writer in search of the sort of communion with others that used to happen in the pub, on the corner, on the bus is now engaging with others electronically instead. So much for progress.

THIS blog is about ideas - big and small - connected with one of the things I care about with a passion, namely the future of liberal thought in this country. I am instinctively a radical liberal, with a grudging belief in the value of markets but an abhorrence of statism and indifference, and a strong belief in social justice. I find Labour bankrupt of ideas, and the Tories intellectually flacid. This is my response.

I am intending always to stick to the point: there will be no rabble-rousing talk, and no wasted jibes at other parties and political philosophies.

Comments will be moderated, but anyone can leave one.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Obama liberalism

Is Senator Obama a liberal?

At first blush this may sound like a question with a strightforward answer - of course he is a liberal, he believes in fairness, social justice, personal freedom, the responsibility of communities for their members and of their members for the community. He is, most people, would say, very much a liberal. No question.

Hold on, though. His acceptance speech at the Democractic convention, filled though it was with references to plans for changes in taxation, social security and public spending was light, nonetheless, on clearly liberal values. Instead Senator Obama talked the tactical talk of a man seeking office and keenly aware that he needs to attract those for whom the word 'liberal' makes them slightly uneasy.

So he said thigs like this:

"We [Democrats] measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma."

and this:

"We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honours the dignity of work."

This is ameliorative liberalism. It says that the liberal values of a secure and thriving society that matter are those that make middle class voters vote for this candidate.

Now, I hope that President Obama wins the election in November. The alternative is not a pleasant one for the world, let alone the people of the United States. Let's pause, though, and wait to hear more from Senator Obama before we take the tactical talk of a salesman for the genuine article. He may turn out to be a credible liberal; it is, paradoxially for a man so often feted as one, much too soon to tell.

1 comment:

Julian H said...

If you go here you can see that Obama has consistently supported state-imposed barriers to trade and subsidies for American producers:


Liberal? No.

He is bloody good at those speeches, mind.