Is Obama More Left Wing Than He is Letting On?

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Ben Cohen
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By Ben Cohen

I'm in the middle of reading 'Dreams from my father' (Obama's first autobiography), and am starting to believe that Obama is far more progressive and left wing than he led everyone to believe during the election. Obama's rhetoric during the battles with Clinton and McCain was decidedly cautious - he carved out centrist positions on about every meaningful issue. But in 'Dreams from my father', a far more complex and interesting picture emerges about Obama's political roots - one far removed from the pro Israel/Free market image he sought to create.

Obama's book is a highly personal, painful exploration of race and poverty in America, and his insights display a very nuanced understanding of the many socio/economic problems in the States. Much of Obama's life experiences came from working as a community organizer in the southside of Chicago, and Obama writes eloquently about the problems of black identity and the devastating effects of Reaganomics he found in the area. Obama is well versed in thinkers like Edward DuBois, Marcus Garvey, and Malcom X, and describes an affinity for their critiques of western society and their ideals of black self determination. His views are not particularly radical in educated circles, but are far too the left of centrist Washington doctrine.

The election of a black man to the highest office is in itself a sign of huge social progress, and the tides are turning in favor of keynesian economics after the collapse of the economy. We have a leader who is at least receptive to the notion of real change, and has a political heritage far more sophisticated and interesting than any other leader in modern history. Obama's job now is to recast the center much further to the left, and make sure the dialogue stays there. If he can controll the message like the Republicans did for the past 30 years, we may be in for an interesting ride. His book bares much about his character, but until then, it was untested in the public arena. Now he is in the spot light, we'll see what he is truly made of.