Last night, watching the primary results roll in (and a strange Gregory Peck movie on Turner Movie Classics), I was struck yet again by the John Dewey in Barack Obama’s victory speech. I know, I know: I’ve managed to locate Dewey in just about everything. I didn’t post about it, but I even detected him in Dark Horse Comics chief Mike Richardson in his speech at the Stumptown Comic Fest. Richardson was terrific, by the way. So maybe I’m monomaniacal on this subject, as obsessive readers of Art Scatter already know.
Dewey and Obama. It has to do with process. Embedded within this speech and all of the others that I’ve heard Obama give (not a VERY large number), he tells you how he thinks he is going to bring about the change he talks about (to health care, foreign policy, education, etc.). He believes that Americans want their problems solved and are “looking for honest answers about the problems we face.” He believes they have the capacity to understand when they hear something that makes sense. He thinks they are ready to sit down and listen. And he is committed to “telling the truth — forcefully, repeatedly, confidently — and by trusting that the American people will embrace the need for change.” Not just the American people, either, because his foreign policy is built on the same process: talk. And he describes what he thinks freezes our process now — “I trust the American people’s desire to no longer be defined by our differences” — and why he thinks we can change, the hopes we have in common. And all of this is straight out of the American Pragmatism playbook.
Continue reading Aesthetic politics: Obama, Dewey, Potter, IFCC