November 7, 2008

An American Moment: My Vision

The newly-launched has a section for citizens to share their vision for what America can be, and where President-Elect Obama should lead America. I decided to post this to their form:

While reading Robert Kuttner's Obama's Challenge several weeks ago, I was fascinated by his description of Denmark's Flexicurity program, which seemed to both help the interests of free-market capitalism while simultaneously offering security to its country's citizens. Rather than subsidizing failing industries, their government appears to give corporations as much free reign as they want to fire/lay-off employees, move workforces overseas, and so forth; they then offer a wealth of social services for people to recover from job loss through retraining. From the little I learned of it, this seems like a really great way to ensure an "agile" government that's able to harness the innovation of capitalism while protecting the citizenry from its vagaries. That said, Denmark is a small country with less than 10 million residents, not a world economic and military superpower with 300 million people. So I can certainly understand that this kind of model may not apply here, but I thought that it might be worth considering.

Not really a vision, more like a suggestion, and one that I imagine plenty of people in government have considered before. But I wanted to contribute something, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the new administration enhances the citizenry’s voice in government.

One of the most fascinating things about the Obama campaign was the way in which it was run: in some sense it mirrored the candidate’s desire to make government more participatory, because it was an extremely participatory campaign. There’s certainly good reason to be skeptical of Obama’s ability to lead, given his lack of experience, but it’s also useful to keep in mind the fact that the campaign itself is a trial of sorts that tests a candidate’s ability to act under pressure, to organize, and to construct a coherent narrative. In this respect, as numerous publications have pointed out, Obama’s team handily surpassed the competition, and he fully deserved the presidency.

© Atul Varma 2020