The second year of the Obama Era is young, but we may be seeing the emergence of Obama 2.0 – a president willing to do battle against the dark forces of stasis and negativity. Let’s hope so.
Obama 1.0 didn’t want to get ahead of Congress. Obama 2.0 appears ready to go head-to-head with Democrats who have the numbers to lead but lack the discipline, and Republicans whose only big idea is to make Democrats fail – a job that has turned out to be pretty easy so far.
Now the President seems open to strategy-change and he’s being flooded with fresh advice. In the Feb. 8 issue of TIME, for example, columnist Mark Halperin suggests that Obama “borrow from the playbook of Ronald Reagan” by becoming bigger than life, standing for a few big things and striking themes with which no self-respecting American patriot – Republican, Democrat or Tea Person -- can disagree.
Halperin is correct. Obama 1.0 worked at playing the Washington game; Obama 2.0 must prove he can change the game, as he promised in the campaign. He should lead us in a tectonic shift from the politics of fear to the politics of hope.
The Right claims we are losing the America we love. The Left tells us we are teetering on the brink of environmental collapse. Both tell us we should be very afraid. A little fear is good. It teaches us, metaphorically speaking, not to touch the hot pot on the stove. But fear without hope leads to the kind of persistent polarity, political paralysis and apocalypse fatigue that seems to be infecting the American spirit like a pandemic. Continued...