Two Ways of Seeing America's Future
Getting back to Diana, she has written a most interesting and provocative piece for Progressive Revival, rooting her analysis in the observations of George Lakoff, who suggested some years back that the Republicans represented the "stern father" perspective of family life, while the Democrats represented a "nurturing parent" perspective." In many ways Cheny comes off, Diana says, as that stern parent, telling the upstart child that he's being naughty (my words). She writes:
He chided Obama as a parent might correct an erring child--delivering a verbal conservative spanking to the young upstart who (according to Cheney) doesn't understand the ways of the real world. He protected the traditions of the older generation, applauding himself for his own wisdom and insight--all the while reassuring the rest of the fearful family that his way is the right way. Stay on the course of the Fathers (Cheney and Bush) and all will be well.
Obama, she notes did speak out of that nurturing parent role, but with a twist. There is much in the speech that speaks of empathy -- much as Democratic Presidents have in the past. But the twist is in Obama's rooting of that empathy in the Law. It is the Law that displays empathy.
The entire speech, delivered at the National Archives (the building that houses our most cherished legal documents), argued that the closest possible attention to the traditions of the law would both protect us from harm and save our national soul. The nurturing parent is not an individual, policies, or government. In Obama's progressive politics, the law nurtures the American family with its hopes for happiness, fairness, community, and justice.
This emphasis on the law-as-nurturing parent helps explain Obama's own coolheaded and dispassionate nature--he is able to stand alongside an issue and analyze it through the lens of legal traditions. And it also explains his remark on wanting an "empathetic" Supreme Court justice. He wants someone who shares this vision of the nurturant law as his legacy on the Court.
Diana notes that Obama's views are rooted both in his understanding of US law, but also in the Judeo-Christian traditions that have also helped form his understandings of the world.
So, which vision of America will you choose to embrace -- that of the stern, knowing father figure that does what's necessary, or the nurturing parent who takes the long view, one rooted in Law?