Barack Obama is an honorable person

US election: How Left is Obama?


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Barack Obama's public appearance in Berlin has become a kind of mega-event, not least thanks to Angela Merkel and the talk about the place of the holy act. Now everyone is watching, even if it is not easy to explain to American interlocutors what, for the Chancellor, makes the fine symbolic difference between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. Oh well.

In any case, the German opponents of the Iraq war, to whom Angela Merkel did not belong from the start, have great expectations of the visit of the charismatic bearer of hope from Chicago. Then there are those who, after eight years of Bush-Cheney, still believe in the good in America. And finally the European left, especially the social democracy, which is whistling out of the last hole in many countries and would also like to say of itself: Yes, we can!

In keeping with the visit of the prophet of a better, decent America, the green Heinrich Böll Foundation is asking in its new themed issue what is, in principle, what is left today: "What's left: Who is the new era with? " In it she also investigates the current variant of this topic, whether "the future American president" is on the left. A legitimate question, given the hopes on the left that are attached to the candidacy of the Illinois Senator, and also in view of the fears that the American right is fueling all over the country.

One can also ask: How left is obama? One realizes how complicated the answer is when one discusses it in the left wing of the United States Liberals as they are called in US political jargon. They all associate Obama and the chance of a larger majority in the Senate and House of Representatives with the hope of decisive political and social changes. However, they have no illusions.

Change , the change that Obama has promised across the board, has many departments: health reform, educational opportunities, investment in infrastructure, tax justice, trade union rights, corrections in trade policy, climate protection and, last but not least, an end to Iraq's engagement. A wide field with many obstacles and dry spells. The American left, however, sees this with an almost happy realism, because: Bush has to go. And only then does the realm of necessity follow: An election winner Obama will have to make compromises.

Wish and Reality - the Obama Dilemma. In a nutshell, Todd Gitlin in New York, on behalf of most of the others. The well-known media critic and professor at Columbia University, not least remembered by insiders as the spokesman for the student "68s" movement, sees Obama in the field of tension between the expectations that he arouses as a visionary election campaigner and the limited possibilities of meeting these expectations To do justice to the election winner: "In principle he is a man of the left. But as president he will not be able to govern as a social democrat."