February 17, 2008


Obama, Crowds, and Power (Jim Sleeper, February 13, 2008, TPM Cafe)

[O]bama hasn't said much about the inevitable temptations to self-congratulation and self-righteousness that also come with success, the almost irresistible seductions of power that accompany cascades of money and applause. Overcoming such temptations will test his faith and prowess and his supporters' character in new ways. [...]

Now Obama will have to teach the secret of the dangers of collective power to his supporters, and they to one another. His movement needs teachers, mentors, and lieutenants who can strengthen it in a faith deep enough to transcend power's illusions. A movement's and a republic's power lies not only in its armies, lawyers, and wealth, indispensible though they are, but, ultimately, in the very vulnerability a republic sustains in a canny ethos of trust.

That's what people have managed to sustain in movements that have been successful. If they can't sustain it now, what seems irresistible in the movement of this moment will not endure, and what seems powerful in it will not leave its supporters free.

What a surpassing odd idea, that an avatar of liberalism--which is collectivist/statist--will warn folks about the dangers of collective power.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 17, 2008 6:49 AM
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