Archive for November, 2009

What Obama Needs For Kwanzaa

11/30/2009

As Kwanzaa, the African American cultural holiday based on seven guiding principles and values- Unity, Self-determination, Collective work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith- approaches, President Obama would do well to consider the following: What is most lacking about him and his administration is the lack of a transformational theory and value framework that would provide a cogent and coherent programmatic direction for the country.  What we have and experience from Obama now is  one day it’s the war in Afghanistan; the next day the economy ;followed by his promotion of science; and then, of course, health care; the Middle East; climate change and the Climate Conference; unemployment; Wall Street compensation; and the crisis of the week. No matter how well Obama handles these issues, his performance and these issues are divorce from a larger framework that is needed in order for the American people to grasp their meaning and implications, and attach themselves as participants rather than passive observers.

Whether Obama wants to accept it or not, he has to shoulder the awesome responsibility of being a transformative leader and president, as oppose to a transactional one.  The difference: the transactional president is what we have had for the past twenty years, a president who promises to give or deliver on programs, money (tax reduction) or issues (abortion, gay marriage national security) for the electorate in exchange for their votes.  On the other hand, the transformative leader organizes the electorate around values and a vision and seeks to involve them in changing society, and in the process transforms the electorate.  This thus necessitates Obama articulating vision of American society and corresponding values which inform and direct the vision, and are present and transparent in his policies and budget priorities. In opting to be a transformative leader, Obama honors his commitment he made during the campaign- to change Washington D. C., and usher in a new era and paradigm of politics- and most importantly, deliver on his most substance pledge of “Change” (we can believe in).

Absent a transformative agenda and politics, Obama, the Democrats and those who supported him for president, run the risk of having the vocal and right wing minority usurp the winds of change and install policies and a vicious brand of politic (divisive and punitive, and hurt poor and working class families, in particular those of color) which appeal to and satisfy the anger of the electorate.  Therefore, a great deal is at stake. This Kwanzaa Obama needs to take inventory and recommit himself to the task of transforming American society. In his quest to solve the many problems which are decimating American families, youth and children Obama should take note of Albert Einstein observation: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them”. This demands that Obama and the public think anew and give consideration to a new set of guiding principles and values- the Seven Principles.