President Barack Obama won the Nobel Prize for Peace today. For those who have doubted his sincerity and are wondering how this happened, I submit that it is because of his moral credibility rather than his foregin policies--most of which have yet to come to fruition. Here, then is the moral credibility of the New Nobel Peace Prize holder
America was born with a terrible birth defect. It covered broad swaths of its quirky body and took hundreds of years to begin correcting itself. That birth defect, of course, was slavery, the moral compromise made in this nation’s conception, and whose lasting influence has destroyed the lives of many, and left an ugly stain on the collective consciousness of others.
Although our new President is not a descendant of slaves—his mother was white, his father Kenyan—he is unmistakably an African-American and one who, by virtue of his very embodiment, could symbolically and literally correct that terrible birth defect. Obama has much going for him, a lot of capital, if you will.
· He has The Capital of Transformation. Because of his incredible leadership skills and the support of a nation that transformed itself in electing him, Obama will avoid the natural suspicion that comes with those who have transformative powers and want to do something with it. He has been preaching change, and transformation is the logical terminus of change. This transformation is not a radical shift in substance and quality. It is an incremental but organic shift in style and orientation; a transformation of the way things are done. Obama’s very demeanor, his ageless grace, his quiet and patient demeanor and his enviable listening skills, speak to deep transformation taking place in American politics. This becomes undeniably clear when you consider the unconscionable lip service of talking-heads politicians and those who hear only what they want to hear so they can start wars and plunder a nation’s wealth. And, on a lighter note, just look at the way Obama has transformed his full name from a political liability before and during his campaign into what is now, as he launches himself on the global stage, a diplomatic asset.
· Barack Hussein Obama has The Capital of Trust. In a time when the people of America do not trust the government—its representatives lie, bully, start unnecessary wars, and send them into a spiraling deficit; when they do not trust Wall Street—its players are greedy; when it is disgusted with Congress—it is a lame duck institution; when they do not trust the current President for too many obvious reasons; and when their faith in the economic system has been seriously tested, Obama is one of the few politicians with enough of an unblemished reputation that people can trust. Add to that the fact that he has never been publicly accused of breaking any of the promises he has made; and that his very alleged inexperience in the political arena stamps him with the imprimatur of innocence. Those regarded as innocent are usually regarded as trustworthy. Obama has made a lot of promises. The huge vote of confidence that he received on November 4, 2008 is a clear sign that people believe he will carry through on his promises. Today he is the most trusted public official in America.
· Obama carries with him The Capital of Restoration. The unprecedented outpouring of joy and tears at Obama’s victory from people all over the world is a clear sign that Obama can and will restore America’s rightful place in the pantheon of the world community. Having fallen from grace, Obama can restore America’s moral authority both at home and abroad. That authority has always resided, not in America’s perfection, but in her unfailing attempts to right her wrongs, a self-reflexivity that causes her to pause and exercise self-awareness and self-consciousness in the execution of her actions. Obama, in possessing the Capital of Restoration, can take advantage of the revisability clause that lies at the heart of Americanism. This clause allows the country to revise its positions, change a course of action, proffer moral introspection and, in the course of events, modify its identity. A cursory look at the history of Europe shows the intractability and unchangeable stubborn nature of socio-economic life there. Historically, America may have been the first nation to have re-made and re-invented itself as many times as it has within the brief period of its history.
· Finally Obama carries The Capital of Moral Authority. Moral authority is a quality that emanates from Obama. It is an organic and constitutive feature of his identity. People who possess moral authority are not self-righteous, moralistic and judgmental. What distinguishes them from decent, moral folks is that there is no distinction between their personal identity and their moral identity. Their personal identity is thickly infused with a set of moral ideals. And those ideals limit what is in the personal sphere. The Capital of Moral Authority is a symptom of, not the cause of, moral excellence. The ancient philosopher Socrates carried the Capital of Moral Authority in his heart because he was not only morally correct, that is, he not only lived a morally consistent life, he also lived an actively moral life. His moral consciousness was not passive. He created a road where there was none because as a moral exemplar he inspired others to think, to not live the unexamined life. Obama has shown us as a community organizer, as someone who forsook wealth in favor of public service, and as someone who inspires people to believe in life’s better possibilities and to pursue them, that the power of his moral suasion comes from an unimpeachable and implacable moral authority. He speaks to the best in humanity, and his voice—as was proven on November 4—is a command to rise. And in the name of this moral authority and the spirit of exaltation it spawns, we simply have to rise. We promised him we would change, and change we must. We must not and cannot disappoint him.
Congratulations President Obama