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Thu Jan 24, 2013, 09:38 AM

Obama as the anti-Reagan

The Morning Plum: Obama as the anti-Reagan

Posted by Greg Sargent on January 24, 2013 at 9:17 am

Little by little, it’s sinking in that Obama’s inaugural speech has the potential to be a turning point in American history, one akin to Ronald Reagan’s inaugural address in 1981, in which he declared: “Government is not the solution to our problem; it is the problem.” That speech did more than articulate the conservative philosophy of governance; it was a declaration of ideological victory, a proclamation that the nation had opted for a new ideological direction.

Obama’s speech was every bit as ambitious, recasting progressivism in the eyes of the nation, declaring that the country has opted for a fundamentally new philosophical and ideological course. In a must read, E.J. Dionne explains:

Like Reagan, Obama hopes to usher in a long-term electoral realignment — in Obama’s case toward the moderate left, thereby reversing the 40th president’s political legacy. The Reagan metaphor helps explain the tone of Obama’s inaugural address, built not on a contrived call to an impossible bipartisanship but on a philosophical argument for a progressive vision of the country rooted in our history.

The key to Obama’s argument, as Ed Kilgore points out, is that he made the “long lost liberal case that collective action is necessary to the achievement of individual freedom, instead of implicitly conceding that social goals and individual interests are inherently at war.” Indeed, Obama himself put it this way: “Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”

Crucially, Obama presented this idea as the philosophical underpinning that unified all of his specific policy proposals, from the vow to combat climate change, to the push for equal pay for women, to the fight for full equality for gay Americans, to the need for voting and immigration reform. He cast inequality and the unfairness of the unfettered free market as threats to freedom, i.e., the freedom to pursue happiness. And this goes beyond the Inaugural: Remember, in his speech laying out his proposal for action on guns, he cast gun violence as a threat to the freedom to pursue happiness within a civil society.



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babylonsister Jan 2013 OP
NewJeffCT Jan 2013 #1
Cal33 Jan 2013 #2

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:12 AM

1. One of my arguments for a single-payer healthcare system

was that it would free people up to leave jobs they disliked to start their own businesses and to take risks to create something new. In the past, a person with a family might just have to suck it up and endure a job they disliked because they feared losing their health insurance if they went out on their own. By removing that worry, you're increasing the freedom of a person to choose the path they want in life.

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Response to NewJeffCT (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:37 AM

2. Yes. It does make sense.


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