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Kurier, Germany

The Orator Must Act

By Helmut Brandstätter

Obama has redefined the American dream. For its implementation, he will need the Republicans.

Translated By Alex McCarty

7 November 2012

Edited by Jane Lee

Germany - Kurier - Original Article (German)

Obama has redefined the American dream. For its implementation, he will need the Republicans.

Oh my God, what a great speaker Obama is. His mix of sharp intelligence and fine sense of atmosphere is unique. The re-elected U.S. president put forth a political program and social vision before his supporters in Chicago, not triumphantly but rather with a serious look at the future. But even with such a seductive orator as Obama, it begs the question: What is just show and what can he really implement?

Obama believes in the “American dream.” He believes in “a tolerant America open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag — to the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner — to the furniture worker's child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president.” But for Obama, the American dream isn't the distinctive achievements of an individual. Obama believes that the strength of the United States comes from being the most diverse nation. The United States only functions “when we accept certain obligations to one another.”

That is a concept of societal solidarity that sounds very European. It is also the result of the demographic shift of the United States. The fastest growing segment of the population is Latinos, who prefer to settle in the cities along the coast. He has left the relatively shrinking white middle class alone with their fears.

New China, Old Europe

On the global playing field, America must increasingly compete with China, where the current power shift in the Communist Party illustrates how China has transformed itself. The fifth generation since Mao Zedong is made up of newly wealthy pragmatists of power. They have taken the motto of Deng Xiaoping, “enrich yourselves,” all too literally. China's path to the top of the world economy is inexorable. Obama can highlight all the more that a country built on the values of freedom and solidarity is more attractive to the best minds of the world.

But what economic approaches can we Europeans hold up against China's bulk and power on one side and the American dream on the other? We discuss whether every country wouldn't manage better on its own, whether even more industry couldn’t be relocated to cheaper countries, whether a few foreigners couldn’t be sent back to their homes.

Like I said, when it comes to a rhetorical wizard like Barack Obama, one must listen very closely as to whether his skillful formulations are feasible in the reality of daily life. But if we brought just a little bit of his spirit into our “we've always done so” operative democracy, a few dreams could become reality.



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