Thursday, November 06, 2008

Judith Butler

Excellent essay by Judith Butler on Obama and the promise/threat of redemption...


Selected passage pasted below:

To what consequences will this nearly messianic expectation invested in this man lead? In order for this presidency to be successful, it will have to lead to some disappointment, and to survive disappointment: the man will become human, will prove less powerful than we might wish, and politics will cease to be a celebration without ambivalence and caution; indeed, politics will prove to be less of a messianic experience than a venue for robust debate, public criticism, and necessary antagonism. The election of Obama means that the terrain for debate and struggle has shifted, and it is a better terrain, to be sure. But it is not the end of struggle, and we would be very unwise to regard it that way, even provisionally.


Sandrine 3:10 pm  

Hi Jeremy,
It is a very interesting essay and I understand what she is trying to say.I understand that Obama is not Santa Claus and that the problems we have right now will not disapear immediately just because he was elected.I also know that his opinions do not match mines like a glove, especially on gay rights.I find kind of insulting that people would assume that just because we are rejoicing, we have no clue. I find it insulting that because I am happy that he was elected, somebody would think that I would take my guard down and make compromises. My eyes are open and I don't believe in the tooth fairy anymore.What she does not grasp along with some other people is that even knowing what we know, it is still an amazing event.The fact that he was elected is giving hope to millions. She and others may try to rain on our parade but she won't be able to.What he means to us will stay.And yes there might be some disapointments down the road. Isn't life full of disapointments already? We know he is not the messiah but what happened will be engraved in us forever.I am sorry that she and you can not understand that.
Take care.

mbuitron 12:05 am  

I don't see Butler's essay as raining on anybody's parade, but instead it does a good job of pointing out how high expectations don't jibe with his senate record--for progressive voters or social conservatives.

I wrote more here:

Obama's win in California also brought with it the elimination of equal protections for gay people--on the back of his other base. Granted, he's not Santa Claus, but he's also not Bush. And I wonder how much of that euphoria comes from the end of eight years of shitty leadership?

My concern is that "what he means to us," like "winning the war in Iraq," means different things to different people at different times. No matter what the outcome, everyone will be disappointed in some way.

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