The Obama campaign is apparently about change and unity. What is meant by this I’m not sure, but at least one explanation I’ve heard recently is that modern politics is dominated by a winner-take-all partisanship that destroys dialogue between the parties. Barack is going to change this by uniting the parties in dialogue and then something…
Is this really possible/desirable? And what is the something that comes after the unity and dialogue? All signs seem to indicate that Barack is very liberal in preference at least (if not also in intention). If Obama plans to advance an uncompromisingly liberal agenda(e.g. health care, withdraw from Iraq, repeal tax cuts, encourage gun bans, etc) in what way does he intend or expect to encourage unity? If unity is just the lubricant to the eventual application of all these policies, shouldn’t conservatives (and maybe moderates) be opposed to unity? Shouldn’t they prefer the friction of partisanship to slow Obama’s policy platform? Or is the claim that he is going to unify us by not governing from a strongly liberal position? There seems to be little evidence in his policy platform to support this.
Or maybe the claim is more restrained. Maybe the argument is that yes, he’s going to be very partisan on all the important issues, and no we probably shouldn’t expect more compromise or unity there. But the partisanship has infiltrated (perhaps the claim goes) even non-controversial subjects like (lets imagine) highway spending, infrastructure repair, and disaster relief. Its time to make these non-controversial again and get some genuine bi-partisan progress.
If this is the claim, it seems to be simultaneously boring and overstated. Obama’s popularity – and his call for unity – is presumably not based on the desire to revolutionize infrastructure repairs. And are these programs really paralyzed by partisanship?
So what is it? Why should I like unity (or change, which is assumedly related)? Or am I missing the point – am I (or are conservatives in general – and maybe some moderates!) not the sort of person who Obama wants unity with? Or what is it?
They seem to get narrower toward the bottom.
The header is a re-arranged illustration of a scene from Philoctetes. The trio on the right comprises the main cast of (from left to right) Philoctetes, Neoptolemus, and Odysseus. The group on the left is the chorus morphed into a group engaging in a separate debate.
This is the original image: