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The meaning of Obama

The messianic cult around Obama was always at odds with his modest policy proposals. But events can force politicians to be bold. The new president has a chance to redefine American liberalism

By Michael Lind   December 2008

What is the meaning of Obama? It is, of course, impossible to evaluate a presidency that has yet to occur, notwithstanding premature declarations that he will be a “transformational” president to compare with giants like Lincoln and the two Roosevelts. But it is not too early to analyse the meaning of his election.

The fact that a mostly white democracy has elected a biracial chief executive is epochal in itself. Liberal democracy is now firmly rooted in much of the world, but many, if not most, liberal societies today would not choose to be led by someone who does not…

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