Friday, December 2, 2011

Change We Can Believe In

Our presidential politics have been dominated by white males until November 2008 when Barack Obama won the presidential election. Obama’s campaign slogan was “Change We Can Believe In.” This reminded me about our discussion on race theory. What does Obama mean by the term change? I am wondering if the public viewed change in a sense of governing as a Democrat rather than a Republican or change, in a sense of moving away from the predominantly white male ideals that have been the defining element of our political climate for many years.

In a way, it could be argued that to advocate for the “Change We Can Believe In” meant that Obama was trying to change the government’s focus on White ideals. The necessity for preserving ideal whiteness needed to be surpassed in order for Obama to become president and to introduce new ideals into the system.

As we said about Descartes’ questions, if Descartes had not himself been white then his questions would have been different because of his experiences. So, the subject is formed by different questions. Likewise, as a black man in politics, Obama probably had different perspectives to improve this country. This difference is grounded in Obama’s background and the culture that he was exposed to, which was partially white and black.

The claim that many people made about Obama was that he was not “really black” because of his background experience. The White experience is associated with wealth and prestigious education. From the beginning of his education, Obama was enrolled in a highly acclaimed Punahou Academy. Obama studied at Occidental College and then transferred to Columbia University in New York. Later, Obama joined Harvard Law School after he returned from his trip to Kenya. His experience, though as a half black man because of his genealogy, has been primarily a stereotypical “white” experience. So when he asks for the people to vote for him because he is the “change they can believe in” I wonder if he himself meant a change from the racial ideals that have governed this country or were his ideals to same as the stereotypical white experience so he meant something else by the term “change”?

I voted for Obama in 2008 and thought that we took a huge step forward as we did not let race define our politics- we decided on the basis of the candidate himself. I want to hear what you all think about the 2008 election, especially because Obama is up for reelection. One, did we move forward by defying the racial barriers of white males being the leaders of our country when Obama was elected or was it just another presidential candidate taking office because Obama actually had a “white” childhood? Two, what do you think Obama meant by the term “change” in his campaign slogan, “Change We Can Believe In”?

Obama’s biography:

One of Obama's campaign posters from 2008:


  1. Manali,

    This is a very thought provoking post. To begin, I do not think that just because something is "prestigious" or "well-off" it should be considered "white." Yes, it's a stereotype but it is still wrong. I think it isn't fair to place the white race on a pedestal while the minorities float to the bottom. After death, we will all look the SAME; it is unfair to consider one race superior to others. Yes, Obama made history by becoming the first black president of the United States. By his slogan I think he meant something deeper than the fact that he is black. I think he really wanted make changes to the United States that no other president has been able to make. It has been harder on him because when he became president, the US was in a major crisis. He deserves a lot of credit.

  2. Like Ivonne said, when Obama became president, he made history, and yes as a country this allows us to defy racial barriers. I do agree that by his slogan, “Change We Can Believe In” change means something deeper than race. However, at the same time I think race is still a major part of the change. Not only has presidency been dominated by white males but a majority of others things have been as well. In our class alone we determined that philosophers are predominately male and white. With all of this racial domination, how could Obama not mean change involving race?


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