“The Audacity of Hope” by Barack Obama
It’s actually been a few years since I’ve read this book, and while it may seem surprising now, I read it to find out who Barack Obama was. I knew he was running for the Democratic Party presidential nomination (I didn’t think he had much chance against the much better known Hillary Clinton), but otherwise knew nothing about him. So, I learned that he was a good writer before I learned that he was a good speaker.
Though some of the political positions Obama discusses are now quite well known—positions on the war in Iraq, free trade, education, and renewable energy—this is still a worthwhile read. It’s a great choice for those of you looking for a nonfiction book to read to fulfill an American Government class assignment.
Two things that you probably don’t know about Obama and politics will emerge. One is his interpretation of the Constitution, which he explains while giving examples of other interpretations by past Presidents and Supreme Court justices. Another is just how crazy the political game really is. If you think there’s anyway that a successful politician can keep his or her hands clean by refusing to compromise with lobbyists, fundraise for election campaigns, woo the media, and swap favors with other legislators, Obama is going to gently remove those rose-colored glasses. He criticizes both parties (more so the Republicans, as you might imagine) for the many failures that our political system generates. The ‘audacity’ is in hoping for better. And while I don’t believe that what he argues for is all that audacious, it is worth trying to achieve.