Tuesday, February 10, 2009


There is something that’s been arousing my curiosity lately. How long, I have wondered, will I feel comfortable defending Barack Obama? It’s an issue relevant to my future credibility. If you are planning to be around for a while it’s a big risk to openly and unapologetically support an audacious hoper. Such is the nature of audacious hope that audacious hopers don’t tend to get the things they hope for with a simple command or snap of the fingers, and political observers don’t tend to give leaders the benefit of the doubt, or time to make changes before they start in with their criticism. . So it was only a matter of time before Obama’s image would tarnish, and mine also, perhaps, by association with a loser.

Today’s radio news brought the first big test. Barack was on the radio saying he hadn’t got the cooperation he’d hoped for. Well, as you can imagine, I jumped right up and cheered, because he framed the disappointment in the context of hope. It’s a strategy I use in hope-focussed counselling almost every day. It keeps the hope in the picture alongside the disappointment. Obama was still my hero.

Today’s newspaper brought the second big test. The Edmonton Journal editorial page observed that the American politicians had not agreed to Obama’s bill. The Democrats added things, which gave the Republicans something to complain about, and the finished product will be different from the product he originally proposed. The editorial went on to observe that the Canadian budget was passed more collaboratively. I will admit that I am kind of proud that our Canadians settled down and got the job done. That said, I am not giving up on my hero. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m giving him some of the credit.

Hope theory tells us that there are many ways to get to any given end. Canadian politicians cooperated on the budget. Could it be that they noticed how uninspired we all were with the politics we saw during December. Could it be that they noticed how Canadians didn’t seem to want to vote, or even to talk about Canadian politics? They wanted to talk about American politics, the politics of collaboration and hope. To fail to collaborate was to force another election.

The U.S. situation was a different matter. Having just been elected, politicians over there felt quite secure in doing what they had always done. Collaboration hadn’t been their platform after all. It was Obama’s—Obama’s audacious hope. He was hoping they would change, and it was he who would get the negative attention if they didn’t.

As for me, I’m still hoping for political collaboration, and I’m not going to blame Obama if his own countrymen don’t share that hope. I’m going to thank him for showing a path to our Canadian politicians, and then I am going to hope they’ll see the success of it. Then maybe they too will start hoping for collaboration. If they do, they’ll be joining Obama, me, and a few million American voters. Regardless of his success in the short term, I hope Obama will still be audaciously hoping for collaboration when the next election comes around.

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