So far, Democratic frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been compared to Abraham Lincoln, Robert F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. Is he the second coming of abolitionist Frederick Douglass as well? In the spring issue of The American Scholar, Nick Bromell makes the interesting, if ultimately unconvincing case that Obama is the only Democrat still adhering to the faith- and feelings-based liberalism espoused by Douglass:
If Douglass were alive today, he would be dismayed by the reluctance of most liberals and progressives to connect programs with values, values with beliefs, beliefs with feelings. He would insist on their knowing what kind of temperament underlies and what spirit animates their politics. He would ask why they find particular values enduring and sacred—a question that would set them on a path leading back to how they feel about the world and themselves and other people, back to a recovery of words that breathe life and passion into an otherwise static list of clichés.
Aren't Americans today impatient for liberals to rediscover what they stand for? Aren't they eager for a liberalism that speaks out of its deepest wellsprings, a liberalism that speaks reason from the heart?
Of course, Frederick Douglass was a classical liberal, a lifelong champion of natural rights, including the rights to life, liberty, and property. Too bad Obama seems so uninterested in following Douglass' lead on that third one.
(Via Arts & Letters Daily)