Along with the rest of the world, I listened closely to President Obama’s inaugural address, which moved me to discuss one key point of interest. President Obama noted that, “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.” The importance of this claim rests in the fact that President Obama has denied the old politics of power and corruption in favor of a return to government by and for the people. The cynics are always skeptical of change. They hold firm to the nostalgia of the past and some would argue they are anti hope. In fairness to the cynics, however, one could instead argue that they are governed by self-interest.
In suggesting that the cynics fail to understand that the ground has shifted, President Obama makes the deeper claim that the very foundation from which government is conceptualized, and protocol enacted, has changed. Change, in fact, must occur from the ground up. It is no longer business as usual. A Kuhnian paradigm shift has effectively occurred within the discourse of American politics.
Although Kuhn argues that his concept of a paradigm shift only applies to the "hard" sciences, it serves to describe this transition of power as well. If President Obama is capable of accounting for all the political and judiciary stances which in the past made America strong, but is also able to account for a more effective regulatory body, then his account is better. Why? His account gives us the best of the old accounts of government, and, in addition, something new. For example, government must allow markets to determine cost, which enables free market economics to foster competition and technological advances. This is key to the old way of describing market functions. President Obama is certainly not rejecting this notion. He is only mandating increased regulation. So the claims that President Obama is a socialist are patently false, he is more of a realist. The truth is, markets need to be regulated, period.
The cynics, however, fail to realize that times have changed, and one can no longer allow the market to run without strict regulatory guidelines in place. In theory, some would argue, though I would not, the unregulated market is what’s best for a capitalistic society. President Obama, then, is informing the cynics that the markets will remain in place but not without regulation. Thus, his account is better than the old account because market trends will still determine cost, but the added regulation will ensure that it is difficult, if not impossible, to game the system. This is but one example of the ground’s shifting, the changing of the guard, and ultimately the paradigm shift we so desperately need.
The ideology of conservative and trickle-down economics is equally fallible, since it assumes the nature of capital is to flow from positions of power. Economically speaking, those who have the money, have the power. With this power they can employ, rebuild and so on — in theory. In practice, however, economists and statisticians must factor greed into their equations. Though he may be no economist, President Obama has factored the greed of many men and women into his ground shifting stance. Without regulation we will assuredly fall deeper into this recession.
The cynics are anti hope, because they must protect their own interests. They are anti regulation because regulation constrains their exorbitant profit margins. They are, in effect, the old way, the old model. The new way, the new model, must be built on the foundation of accountability and market regulation. Ethics, which have for so long been absent in political discourse, must be reintroduced in the form of effective regulation. The cynics have had their day; their time has come and gone. Now it is a new day, and the economic responsibility for securing market conditions must shift to this new paradigm, namely, a paradigm of ethical accountability.