Imagining a better reality isn't unrealistic

By Wes Alcenat

It doesn’t take intellect to know that Sarah Palin-vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party-was not properly vetted for the job. Yet, the highly gullible American electorate has been affected by her estranged claim to be a reformer.Despite the arduous work Barack Obama and Joe Biden have done to advocate for change for this country, the electorate remains monolithic. People are still fraught with cynicism, and some even believe that Hillary Clinton is replaceable by Palin. We have seen an amounting conservative assault aimed at insulting liberal reasoning. Sarah Palin’s criticisms of Obama are cloaked in mockery of his past as a community organizer, a job largely concerned with working for those ignored by Washington. McCain has anointed himself the candidate for change despite his 26 years of upholding the system.

As college students, we are not strangers to partisan tactics. Indeed, theirs is the only political strategy we have known in our lifetime; it amounts to this: a cultural and ideological warfare built on questions of abortions rather than women’s rights, tax-cuts rather than sensible human development, and fear rather than tough diplomacy. This cultural war is a pill too bitter for me to swallow, but the American electorate bought it for eight years. And now they seem ready to be duped again by the rhetoric of compassionate conservatism.

Many have asked me why I walk around like an Obamaniac. My answer is that it is not so much about Obama as it is about me. I want to test the limits of this electorate. I want them to prove they are competent in their electoral judgment. I want them to understand that na’veté is not what Republicans would have us believe; it is not the weapon of the weak.

Na’veté is an aboveground hold on governance that is seldom exploited in conventional politics. If one can imagine that there are solutions to the challenges of climate change, ethnic conflicts, nuclear proliferation, universal healthcare, and the eradication of extreme poverty, then who is to say that such imagined solutions are beyond our grasp. By the simplest logic, hope is only absent so long as despair is allowed to be present.

Our minds are perverted with the hopelessness of eight years of Bushism. We have forgotten that we live in a planet in peril, risking our existence in the process. We’re living through a crisis in which the potential of our imagination has been diminished to the size of our failures. Although we have reached the peak of climate change, we call Obama na’ve because he doesn’t believe in drilling for more oil.

We would like to have it both ways on immigration: exploit the laborer but disdain his humanity. Some of us like quality healthcare, but we lack the audacity to rise above American individualism and embrace “universal healthcare.” We’d like to have a prosperous society, but want it to trickle down our pockets. It is a fatal dream to live by, one that is fragile to our existence unless we are awaken by a flame of leadership.

We have been too stationary in our idealism, frozen by the blizzard of cynicism that has swept the tundra of our callous minds.

I believe that the power of an Obama presidency rests not in what it can do for this country, but in how it can once again inspire this country to aspire to helping itself. For that and more, I embrace his so-called na’veté with the cloak of hope. And I hope that he can help us exchange our lackluster creativity for a movement towards better social development. I believe that hope is vision and as such marks the cornerstone of visionary leadership.

Ronald Reagan once said “To grasp and hold a vision is the very essence of successful leadership.” However, he did not have the candor to act on bold visions. Instead, he became the epitome of the cultural wars.

Bold visions are in demand in our time. The innocence of those who think we can achieve again must be embraced. Whatever happened to the New Deal leadership that gave us social security and the expansion of the American middle-class? Were we not inspired to reach for the moon by a youthful and “inexperienced” president, John Kennedy

If we are to believe that human imagination is limited, then of what purpose is a college education? I believe that we are faced with crucial challenges that demand innovative leadership. This election is a test of judgment for the American electorate to prove once again that they can elect intelligent leaders again.

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Obama Co-Coordinator

Wes Alcenat ’10 at

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