“A model of thoughtful, careful scholarship in the service of compelling argument. It’s not been easy to make sense of many of Obama’s decisions since his historic election. O’Brien provides a useful starting point and an important contribution to our understanding.”
Eric Alterman, author of The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama
“Obama’s vision of E Pluribus Unum—a democratic progressive vision—is central both to his own sense of purpose and to his appeal. Ruth O’Brien lays out very concretely how this vision is expressed in Obama’s policy positions and modes of governing. Out of Many, One is a distinctive and thought-provoking contribution to understanding Obama and contemporary American political thought.”
Rogers M. Smith, University of Pennsylvania
|Publication date: June 05, 2013 ||Cloth $25.00 • £17.50 |
|UK publication date: June 10, 2013 ||ISBN-13: 978-0-226-04162-9 |
Even in his second term, Barack Obama’s vision of change continues to defy easy characterization. What makes his platform so difficult to parse for Democrats and Republicans alike, argues Ruth O’Brien, is that Obama draws on a lesser-known third tradition in American political thought that is neither the public-interest progressive reform perspective practiced by Roosevelt nor the conservative idealization of individual achievement. Instead, Obama adopts an interconnected view of the individual and the state that embraces the ideas of mutual reliance and collective responsibility.
Analyzing Obama’s major legislative victories, O’Brien shows that they reflect a stakeholder society that neither regulates in the manner of the New Deal nor deregulates. Instead, Obama focuses on negotiated rule making and allows executive branch agencies to fill in the details when dealing with a deadlocked Congress. Similarly, his commitment to difference and his resistance to universal mandates underlies his reluctance to advocate for human rights as much as many on the Democratic left had hoped.
Ruth O’Brien is professor of political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
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