Sunday, October 18, 2009

Barack Obama: Audacity of Hope


The Audacity of Hope

"We have a stake in one another, and that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and that if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done."


When I decided to run for the United States Senate, I wasn't so sure of myself. I had preserved my independence, my good name, and my marriage, all of which, statistically speaking, had been placed at risk the moment I set foot in the state capital.

But the years had also taken their toll. Some of it was just a function of my getting older; each successive year will make you more intimately acquainted with all of your flaws - the blind spots, the recurring habits of thought that will almost certainly worsen with time, as surely as the hitch in your walk turns to pain in your hip. In me, one of those flaws had proven to be a chronic restlessness; an inability to appreciate, no matter how well things were going, those blessings that were right there in front of me. It's a flaw that is endemic to modern life and one that is nowhere more evident than in the field of politics. Whether politics actually encourages the trait or simply attracts those who possess it is unclear.

Someone once said that: "Every man is trying to either live up to his father's expectation or make up for his father's mistakes."

I suppose that may explain my particular malady as well as anything else.

In any event, it was a consequence of that relentlessness that I decided to challenge a sitting Democratic incumbent for his congressional seat in the 2000 election cycle. It was an ill-considered race, and I lost badly - the sort of drubbing that awakens you to the fact that:

"Life is not Obliged to Work Out as you'd Planned."

A year and a half later, the scars of that loss sufficiently healed, I had lunch with a media consultant who had been encouraging me for some time to run for statewide office. As it happened, the lunch was scheduled for late September 2001.

"You realize, don't you, that the political dynamics have changed," he said.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

We both looked down at the newspaper. There, on the front page, was Osama bin Laden.

"Hell of a thing, isn't it?" he said, shaking his head.

"Really bad luck. You can't change your name of course. Voters are suspicious of that kind of thing. Maybe if you were at the start of your career, you know, you could use a nickname or something. But now ..." His voice trailed off and he shrugged apologetically before signaling the waiter to bring us the check.

I suspected he was right, and that realization ate away at me. For the first time in my career, I began to experience the envy of seeing younger politicians succeed where I had failed.

The pleasure of politics began to pale against the meaner tasks of the jobs: the begging for money, the long drives home and clipped phone conversation with a wife who had stuck by me so far but was pretty fed up with raising our children alone and was beginning to question my priorities.

I began to harbor doubts about the path I had chosen. I began to feel, after years of commitment to a particular dream, after years of waiting, to realize that it's gone just about as far as talent or fortune will take me. The dream will not happen, and I now faces the choice of accepting this fact like a grown-up and moving on to more sensible pursuits, or refusing the truth and ending up bitter, quarrelsome, and slightly pathetic.

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Despair - I'm not sure I went through all the stages prescribed by the experts. At some point, though, I arrived at acceptance - of my limits, and, in a way, my mortality. I refocused on my work in the state senate and took satisfaction from the reforms and initiatives that my position afforded. I spent more time at home, and watched my daughters grow, and properly cherished my wife, and thought about my long-term financial obligations. I exercised, and read novels, and came to appreciate how the earth rotated around the sun and the seasons came and went without any particular exertions on my part.

And it was this acceptance that allowed me to come up with the thoroughly cockeyed idea of running for the Illinois Senate seat in 2004.

An up-or-out strategy was how I described it to my wife, one last shot to test out my ideas before I settled into a calmer, more stable, and better-paying existence. And she - perhaps more out of pity than conviction - agreed to this one last race, though she also suggested that given the orderly life she preferred for our family, I shouldn't necessarily count on her vote.

I let her take comfort in the long odds against me.


In 2000, Barack Obama was unsuccessful in his bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On March 2004, Barack Obama won the Democratic primary election to become the States Senator of Illinois.

On February 2007, Barack Obama began his run for the US Presidency. He beats Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential primaries and become the Democratic party nominee.

In the 2008 United States General Election, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain.

On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States.


Barack Hussein Obama II (born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current president of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office, as well as the first president born in Hawaii.

Obama previously served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to the presidency in November 2008.

Obama served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, Obama ran for United States Senate in 2004. His victory in the March 2004 Democratic primary election for the United States Senator from Illinois brought him to national attention. His prime-time televised keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004 made him a rising star nationally in the Democratic Party. He comfortably won election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004.

He began his run for the presidency in February 2007. After a close campaign in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries against Hillary Clinton, he won his party's nomination. In the 2008 general election, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009. On October 9, 2009, Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.[4]

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