Does Barack Obama Have True Political Wisdom?

obama purple lady

Walter Moss: The primary question is not whether President Obama has always acted wisely (or unwisely) during his first three years in office, but the extent to which he possesses the values necessary for political wisdom and has displayed it.

Why Leftists Should Support Obama’s Reelection

obama purple lady

An Open Letter to Fellow Leftists: Please Support President Obama’s Reelection On LA Progressive’s pages, I have read many articles and commentaries which threaten not to support President Obama’s reelection. Although I distrust political labels, I consider myself a liberal and progressive, and thus a leftist, but I differ from some of you in several [...]

Is Consumer Capitalism Outdated?

Walter Moss: If consumer capitalism is indeed replaced by a new economic structure, many capitalist bricks may still be needed for any new construction. Whether we choose to attempt new building or just apply a little patching here or there is up to us.

Gorbachev and Obama

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Walter Moss: I have come to fear that Obama may possess two of the flaws that led to Gorbachev’s downfall — an inability to forge a political consensus and a failure to articulate a political vision that can inspire average people.

Dorothy Day, Radicalism, and Present-Day Politics

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Walter Moss: Dorothy Day’s work and legacy serve as a gentle reminder to politicians and those of us among the “chattering classes,” that what matters most is not what we say or how we or others label us, but how we contribute to the common good.

Progressivism and a Tea Party Approach to State Government

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Walter G. Moss: Florida’s new governor, Rick Scott, is demonstrating why most of us who consider ourselves progressives dislike the politics of Tea-Party-backed candidates. For many of us, compassion and empathy are central political values, and Scott’s first budget proposal, unveiled on February 7th, reflects little of either value.

Civility and Political Discourse after the Tucson Shooting

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Walter Moss: President Obama has often been criticized for being too ready to compromise or for not displaying enough political passion for just causes. No doubt, he has not always perfectly calibrated the right mix of passion and compromise. But there is also no doubt, at least in my mind, that he is correct in calling for more civility in politics.

W. H. Auden, Humor, and the Politics of Today

w. h. auden

Walter Moss: Just a few months after coming to America, the homosexual Auden, who knew what it was like to feel like an outsider, penned one of his many poems that displayed his sympathy for sufferers. Sometimes known as “Refugee Blues,” it dealt with German Jews who were unable to receive permission to remain in the United States, and its haunting lines remain a permanent reminder of the need for political compassion.

Anton Chekhov: A Man for Our Times

Anton Chekhov

Walter Moss: All this interest in Chekhov is nothing new. One could argue that no other writer had more influence than he on modern drama and short fiction, and some would go much further.

Carl Sandburg’s Wisdom through Humor

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Walter G. Moss: Wise person that he was, Sandburg saw that life is both a comedy and tragedy, containing vibrant life and sad death, the beautiful and the ugly, the wise and the foolish, moments of transcendence and ones of banality. As the Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes says (and Sandburg admirer Pete Seeger later adapted for his folk song “Turn, Turn, Turn”)

The Recent Press and E.F. Schumacher’s Warnings

E.F. Schumacher

Walter Moss: Having just completed research on economist and environmentalist E. F. Schumacher (1911-1977), I have been struck by how relevant many of his warnings are to today’s events. Although I don’t necessarily agree with everything he wrote, his comments are well worth considering as we struggle to deal with all our complex problems.

BP, Corporations, Capitalism, Progressivism, and Government

Clockwise: Jane Addams, Teddy Roosevelt, Sinclair Lewis, Eugene Debs

Walter Moss: We can grant that capitalism can have many beneficial effects and that other systems like socialism can have their defects, nevertheless the essence of capitalism is the selling of goods and services and making a profit, and it has no higher moral goal. Essentially an economic system, it provides no adequate answers for how to deal with such problems as unsafe working conditions, unfair business practices, pollution and other environmental degradation, public health, slum housing, or the abuse of child labor. This absence of any higher comprehensive social philosophy led to efforts to supplement it by providing an overall philosophy of the public good. This absence led to Progressivism.

Obama Suggests Lincoln-Like Humility

President Barack Obama's spring 2010 commencement address at the University of Michigan will come 10 years and one day after President Bill Clinton delivered the commencement address at Eastern Michigan University in 2000.  (AP Photo)

Walter Moss: One of the great ego traps for any president is being surrounded by “yes men and women” who tell him (and maybe someday her) that he is always right. In The Audacity of Hope, Obama wrote of an occasion when President Bush’s “eyes became fixed, his voice took on the agitated, rapid tone of someone neither accustomed to nor welcoming interruption. His easy affability was replaced by an almost messianic certainty. As I watched my mostly Republican Senate colleagues hang on his every word, I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring, and appreciated the founders’ wisdom in designing a system to keep power in check.”

From an Economy of Consumption to an Economy of Sustainability

Walter Moss: As we face the simultaneous challenges of creating more jobs and a more sustainable environment for our children and grandchildren, are we not capable of new thinking? Are we not capable of demonstrating that yes, we can evolve toward an economy that evidences more of what Schumacher thought it should — Beauty, Truth, and Goodness?

Health Care Reform and Liberal Values

Obama signs healthcare

Walter Moss: [Obama] stated that no one party had a monopoly on good ideas. While remaining pragmatic and anything but a doctrinaire ideologue, he also displayed the liberal Democratic values of compassion, tolerance, and rationality. Little wonder that he believes that Democrats should welcome a values debate with Republicans.

Advice to Young College Students

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Walter Moss: What would you most like to have by the time you reach 30? In these economic tough times you might say “a really good job.” Or you might opt for “a good marriage.” Few of you would say “wisdom.” Even if religious you would probably not take too seriously the words offered in many religions such as those in the Jewish Bible (or Christian Old Testament): “Wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared with it.”

Is Health Care a Human Right?

Eleanor Roosevelt

Since World War II the United States has gradually broadened its understanding of human rights for minorities, women, gays, and others. Is it not time to continue moving forward by now recognizing a right that most leading democracies and exponents of human rights have come to accept–the right to accessible and affordable health care?

Is Obama Too Cerebral?

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If the cool and cerebral Obama is to bring about meaningful health care reform, he may need to demonstrate a wisdom that includes a healthy dose of Ted-Kennedy-like passion.

Obama, Sandburg, Lincoln

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Obama and Lincoln, okay; but “Obama, Sandburg, and Lincoln”? Lincoln scholar, poet, and folk singer Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) is seldom mentioned anymore, but that’s unfortunate. A half century ago he was, in the words of his friend Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson, “the one living man whose work and whose life epitomize the American dream.” During [...]

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