Barrack Obama… Political Salesman or Statesman?

One of the greatest salesman that I have ever known likes to say, “if they want steak, don’t give them lobster.” Anyone who has ever sold anything knows the truth behind this saying. It doesn’t matter what you have to sell, if the buyer doesn’t want it, forget it, they aren’t buying.

Barrack Obama is selling. He’s selling hard. He’s making more speeches, more interviews than any President I can recall. He is articulate when he needs to be and folksy when it’s appropriate. He’s a rock star who is giving his fans and constituency what they want…more Barrack. Can you blame him? I don’t.

The real question is, is he just selling what his constituency wants or is there something more profound that will move him from political salesman to Statesman? (Wikipedia differenciates the two by saying, “anyone elected to office is a politician but only a few consistently manage to work as disinterested promoters of the public good with integrity. There is a huge difference between the two.”)

On April 15th I attended (in Charlotte) my first ever “protest” rally. It was one of the many “tax tea party’s” that were being held throughout the country. There were signs, speakers and lots of cheering and chanting. The topic was as billed, too much government, too many taxes and with that, a feeling of a “boxing-out” of the American entrepreneurial spirit.

I spoke to several people who each had a basic concern and theme. They felt an incredible fear of big Government, based on three factors:

  1. The Snowball Effect – Once you start a government program, it’s hard to stop. In other words, if you give government an inch they will take a mile; 
  2. Get A Crumb, Pay For the Whole Slice – Most people believed that while they may get a few small crumbs (from Washington), they will have  to pay for the “whole slice of pie” when the bill comes due;
  3. Loss of Control – Hidden deep down in the subconscious is everybody’s desire to retain some control of his or her own future or fate. I like to think that is what makes people into entrepreneurs. I’m one and most people say I tend to be a control freak. Many of the protesters feel that they are losing control of their own destiny as government encroaches into the private sector and they are helpless to stop it.

The battle lines are being drawn. On one side are mostly Democrats who believe that Common Good is of utmost importance. They are big hearted and want to see everybody get their basic needs covered by society, such as healthcare, education and welfare. They are not overly concerned about government’s financial expansion since they believe government is paid for by the People and should be used to help the People. Therefore, the Common Good can be best served by expansive government.

On the other side are mostly Republicans who believe that the Family Welfare is of utmost importance. They want the right to be big hearted at their own choosing. They don’t mind government and believe it plays an important role in national security and domestic law enforcement. But they are concerned about the cost of government. They believe that if given a chance, they can better provide for their Family Welfare than government.

With such a philosophical divide, we find the country at a stalemate. And this is where Obama has his chance to become a legendary Statesman.

The question to ask the millions of people who voted for Obama is what did they expect from his message of “Change”? Some believed he meant he would change the type of leadership where the “us against them” methodology is the mainstay of the two party system in Washington. This is the “Change” that would take a great Statesman to accomplish. Or is your definition of “Change” as simple as a shift in policy, between the two mentioned above?

I recently asked a friend of mine (a staunch Democrat) to grade Obama’s first three months in office. At first he said it’s unfair to grade Obama since he was handed an awful deck of cards (to use a poker analogy) and furthermore, he shouldn’t be judged after only a few months. I pressed and he agreed to give him a “B.” Then I asked, if he thought Obama had brought the country together and “not really” was his answer. I asked if that was ok to him and there was a reluctant pause followed by a nod for “yes.” In other words, it’s his policies that matter, not his governing style.

And so this is my point. Barrack Obama campaigned on “Change You Can Believe In.” If you voted for him and expected him to “Change Politics As Usual,” as he said he would do, then you are probably very disappointed. If you thought he meant that “Change” was defined as policy change, and you believe in his policies, you should be very pleased. I think the difference between the two is what determines if he will go down in history as either a great Statesman or great political salesmen. The question is, will he be able to rise above the politics and become the former? I really wish he would, because that is what America needs today.

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