This blog has been among many other things the site for a duel between the very unevenly resourced ideological positions of President Barack Hussein Obama and the ideological positions of Frank Wynerth Summers III. That is not entirely a fair analysis of anything but it is close enough to be useful. It is close enough to the truth to open this blog post. Remember the book The Age of Obama? Has is turned out the way that book led us to believe it might turn out if the great bringer of Hope and Change were to bring his policies into the White House for eight years? What of all the articles in periodicals and pieces on television shows that predicted a post racial America, has that happened?
Lately there has been the shooting of the people in the Emanuel AME Church, the Lafayette Theater shooting, the bombing of two church exteriors of different types, the burning of black churches and the recent graffiti attack on a synagogue in San Antonio and much of this received barely a mention in this blog but there have been mentions. Like the police officers shot and the neighborhoods burning this sort of thing seems different that the usual ideological conflicts I have discussed here. There are serious Nazis and neo Nazis in America who are far more dangerous to some people than the painting and shooting folks seen lately and it is not easy to say how much the two groups interact. One could argue that America’s political parties are losing control over their brand and the ideologies associated with being Republican or Democrat can’t compete within their own labels. So what is the ideological framework here that faces the ideological complexity of the world? Are we living in an America so transformed by a continuous Civil Rights struggle that a new and unified America based on equality looks out at the world through that lens?
Did David Remnick’s book The Bridge capture the essence of an Obama who fulfilled the dreams behind the Civil Rights Movement and encapsulated and personified them in himself?
Conservative Indian-American scholar Dinesh D’Souza has produced two films, numerous lectures and the book The Roots of Obama’s Rage which among other things seek to explain Obama as an anti-colonialist ideologue. I think that his analysis is basically correct in large areas. However, there are also areas where I disagree with him and the work to be done to analyze all of this scholarship and writing goes far beyond what I can do in this post. The truth is that Obama as he is perceived by his supporters and any other positioned person he happens to be do not always come close enough together to be examined as one thing and one person or leader. Will this ideology of anti-colonialism be the legacy of Obama that his successor will have to deal with?
In other posts I have dealt more than I will here with the energy behind the Black Lives Matter Movement, the Occupy Movement, The Tea Party, Act Up, protesters for and against the Confederate Flag. With these and so many other signs of discontent can we speak of an American ideology that will be led by a President? Do we simply have a society of contending ideologies?
Does Al Gore have a chance of leading a Green Ideology into power in the Democratic Party and then into the White House? I am pretty Green and would not join the Green Party and have left the Democrats, I probably would not come home with Al but would someone else? Would enough people unite with him around those issues to constitute an ideological shift? Former Vice President Gore has not declared that he is running but we can imagine a Green Democrats ideology that might be formidable…
Nonetheless lots of Americans care about the environment and some are pretty dismissive of it and those splits do not always relate to a very identifiable ideology. Gore himself seems far from a predictable ideologue. Nor is it clear that Americans are seeking a leader with a strongly ideological bent as they are facing moderate complex political systems in competition as well as places and systems like Cuba, Iran, North Korea and ISIS who seem to have very strong and clear ideologies
What is Donald J. Trump’s ideology? Most of us are not sure. We feel more sure about Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul if we have any idea what an ideology is we feel that each of those men are very ideological and committed. We may not evaluate their ideologies the same way but most of us feel that they clearly have evolved and embraced a distinct political ideology. We may also not be sure about whether an American President should have a distinct ideology. Is ideology a word that applies to American politics?
I think we can disagree a great deal about what the American ideological framework is, about what it ought to be and about how intensely it should interact with Presidential politics. Nonetheless, I think most serious and honest people will come to accept after study that ideology has its place in American politics as well. America must engage a world shaped by complex ideological factors. One of the challenges of recent years has been to define the ideology of President Barack Hussein Obama.
The crowd of people who are running for President of the United States may not be aware of the fact that struggle of ideologies across the world is a great struggle. It is a struggle as complex and challenging in its implications as any struggle across the face of the globe has ever been.
We are facing a great deal of complexity in the way that power and development are configured in the world. China ruled by the Communist party is influenced heavily by the hybrid post Soviet gangster oligarchy cum neo-socialist planning cum free market capitalism of Russia. China is also influenced by its own reinterpretation of neglected socialist paths, Confucianism and its Imperial Heritage. China is influenced positively and is also pushed to active opposition by post KMT Taiwan. It is influenced by the capitalist American treaty partners in the region — Japan, Korea and Vietnam. The British Commonwealth’s lingering influence in Hong Kong and its bastion in India are continuing influences. The Muslim provinces and the Muslim powers in the region also exert a definable influence. Chinese ideology is not a random hodgepodge of all these influences but it is responsive to all of these influences. The next American President will have to pay some attention to the realities that the Chinese are paying attention to if he or she wishes to understand what Chinese leaders and thinkers are planning and doing. The Chinese constitution is important to understand but the ideology by which leaders operate within the constitutional framework is not less important to understand.
What then of the ideologies that dominate Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Iran? Are we ready to allow the next leader to take office without a thorough understanding of at least how an ideology or system of political ideas tends to operate in and across systems of power and forms of governance?
Obama has been President of the United States and written two books which I have read. I think I understand some things about his ideology by now. That will leave its mark on our future regardless of what else happens.