An identity for Obama

“What identity could Barack Obama choose that will be both sincere and successful?” This is the opening line of a recent article from Chron.com entitled, The Search for an Identity that works for Barack Obama. My answer? The one he was born with. Politics labors under the weight of its obsession with “becoming” something or someone other than who you already are. Why? What’s wrong with being yourself?

Whether it’s Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton or John McCain, these people have identities that are at the core of how they might create value as president of the United States. It would be a gift to us all, if they’d share these with us. They should be themselves and show themselves. It would change the nature of the race and, broadly, writ, the nature of politics. (It would also put a lot of polling people out of business.)

Absent such courage, politics remains the land of no integrity—a place where what “you” want is what “I” must become in order to succeed. I have often imagined a system where the dynamics of genuine identity played a central role. But, then, maybe such a system would have to be branded something other than “politics.” Maybe such a system would spark, in fact, the next American revolution.

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