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The Audacity of Soap

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The conversations always begin the same way. A person on the street or at a job will spot my dark blue Obama '08 t-shirt and will feel a need to address it. The approach is often respectful, curious but reserved, interested but cautious. They want to know why I support him. Why is Obama causing a stir in the media? Why are the college kids fascinated with him? Is this an example of the Cult of Personality so clichéd over the years? Or, is there something else going on beneath the surface? People really want to know. As a long time supporter of the Senator, I feel the need to answer these observers. In this simple attempt, I might get it wrong. I might not understand what everyone else is thinking but I do know what is driving me. With humility and begging your patience, here is what I call the Audacity of Soap.

Piercing the night, gunshots rain out of the woods and fields in persistent attempts to thwart the British advance. How many lives were sacrificed in Revolutionary battles to obtain the God-given right to self-govern? Each son or daughter lost to that war did so for the far possibility that we might construct our own system of representative Democracy. Did they all die for the hope that we might build a system that doesn’t work? The splintered cogs of a warped construction were not the dream of those unrepresented by the old world. What they wanted was a new world, and with it a new leader kept in constant check by the firm opposition of free voices. They wanted an honest debate and a balance of powers. Eventually, those dreams were realized.

For two hundred years, each progressive generation added a new accent to the floor of Congress, a new perspective to the Senate and a wider vision for the country as a whole. For two hundred years, each conservative wall came tumbling down as blanket prejudices against Blacks, Catholics, Jews, Gays and Liberals were addressed and punctured with the spear of reason and compassion. No matter the fear or excuse, no matter the hesitation or doubt, nothing has ever been able to cool down the melting pot of our aspirations. We are dreamers, great dreamers who imagine splendid creations. We can’t help it really, we’re American. Our rise has not been one of tyranny but rather one of ingenuity. That persuasive desire towards inventiveness and social harmony continues today. It has never been hindered by the false ghosts of big brother’s intervention. It has even overcome the legal manipulations of loophole aristocracy. It is, in fact, bubbling up again, right now.

As the current pulleys and levers have rusted from neglect, we have become aware of a spiteful class war between the greedy and the cynical, between the Preachers of Armageddon and the Children of the World Wide Web. In this great reckoning, it is the children who have awakened. They are multitude and unbiased. They are uniquely color blind and innocently embracing a pragmatic figurehead who reminds us that a well oiled machine can best be run by those who believe in its purpose. It is this same machine that has survived every war and prospered through every famine. It is this same machine that has plowed a hundred thousand acres and built a million engines. Despite the rage of critics who insist that the machine is government, I believe that the young people know different. The machine is not an agency or firm, it is not a regulation or a tax. It is a synchronicity of intentions; it is a sincerity of resolve. It is a spirit that has been missing for many years, lying dormant under the agitational narcissism of bloated dogmatic idols. In this season of pressure and unrest, these idols have cracked and this spirit has been released to free us once again.

So often in his speeches Barack says, “This is bigger than me. This is about the American people. This is about the change they want to happen.” It is about us, not him. This awakening does not begin or end with Barack Obama. The Audacity of Hope of which he speaks is about changing the guards who are supposed to protect our liberties. Change is not enough, we want purity as well. The Audacity of Soap is a firm belief that we can scrub clean these reins of power. We can take them away from the corrupt, who have dirtied them with hypocrisy and deceit. The halls of democracy need to be cleansed from time to time. We seek to lend the reins to others who have only our temporary support. They will stand on the hill, charged with upholding the highest regard for their responsibilities. This is how it should be. The class war which pits Americans against each other has to end. New generations inevitably take over and bring with them fresh faces, absent of scars, gleaming with the promise of bold ambitions. These new faces dare to further the dreams fought for on colonial battlefields so long ago.

Perhaps it is a lot to ask of our young but it is their time to shine, and in this spectacular moment, they are more eager than ever before. They have a deep desire for justice, an abiding respect for the planet and a willingness to connect with all of the world’s people. This election is merely a symbol of a larger proclamation seeking decency and reconciliation. We all want to live in a better world and now many of us are ready to start building it. In November I will be voting for Barack Obama but always bear in mind that he embraced the message of our times and not the other way around.

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About Alex Hutchinson

  • Baronius

    Alex – Very well written.

  • I agree. At times I could almost hear Obama’s voice speaking the words.

    He could, in fact, do a lot worse than to hire Alex as a speechwriter.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Well said, Alex.

  • If only all it took was soap.

  • Hopefully, Obama will turn out to be “Mr. Clean.”


  • Wow, what a furore that would start. Everyone knows Mr Clean is gay.

  • Jet

    ?????????????????? I keep missing all those memos?

  • Not that there’s anything wrong with that!


  • Oh, come on, Jet. Look at the guy.

    Big bald musclebound dude with a white t-shirt and an ear piercing? Hangs out with women all the time?? Advertises cleaning products???

    I mean, for crying out loud…


  • Jordan Richardson

    And most people know about the fling with Uncle Ben.

  • A very well written article, but I must confess that something seems to be missing.

    There may well be, indeed there probably is, an emerging mood which favors change for the better from the old ways; not merely change, but change for the better. What I find missing is a basis for the implicit assertion that Senator Obama is likely to be an effective instrument of such change.

    Senator Clinton clearly would not be; and Senator McCain, although a bit of a maverick is, at best, in the “Maybe?” category. That does not mean that Senator Obama is clearly in the “certainly” or even “probably” category.

    I am prepared to be convinced that he is, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    Leaving aside notions that Democrats are Good and Republicans are Bad, and vice-versa, what is there about Senator Obama to convince us that he and a presumably compliant Democratic Congress are likely to restore the vitality and virtue of the United States?


  • Jet

    Ah yes… judgment by stereotype, even the most levelheaded of us seems to be guilty of it… if only in jest

  • Jordan Richardson

    Oh for crying out loud…

  • Jet

    Big… Musclebound… Ahnhald?

  • Jet

    (snif) (choke) Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

  • Sorry, I don’t get the title. I kept waiting for the over the top rhetoric to turn satirical and it never did.

    >>We all want to live in a better world and now many of us are ready to start building it. << The problem here is that at least half of us think building a better world means NOT embracing the failed political ideals which Obama represents. Obama is practicing the classic bait and switch. Promise hope and platitudes but instead take away choices and opportunities. Too many have seen through it and cynicism IS the best form of self-defense. Obama is going to be rejected by the voters so hard that he bounces in November. Dave

  • Oh, god Dave. You have no idea what the voters are going to do in November. Just as I’ve admitted that my outlandish predictions of an Obama landslide are no more than wishful thinking, you should reel in your enthusiasm, your wishful thinking and hold onto your butt.

    It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    (Hey, I managed to use two film quotes consecutively.)


  • Jet, he’s a cartoon. Stereotyping pretty much goes with the territory.

  • Jet

    Dear God, I’m going to have to start labeling my jokes again…

  • Lee Richards

    Right now, to me Obama is like the musician who can play all the notes perfectly but has no musical heart and soul. (McCain can’t find the tune.)

    I hope for better, once we get out of the summer silly season and into some more meaningful debates and dialogues. Maybe then we’ll see if Obama only fakes the notes or if he really can swing. (McCain CAN tap his foot to ABBA, I hear.)

    Like some others have said, I may be voting for a running mate instead of the candidate this year. But I will be voting for change in congress.

  • It’s hard for me to understand just what it is that most of you have come to expect from a presidential candidate.

    Ghandi is dead and Jesus at last glimpse was no longer corporeal.

    Sadly for true righties Reagan has also shuffled off his mortal coil. Although, I’ve heard tell that he might deign to return for another term if enough true believers will don hair shirts and crawl cross country on their knees to his grave, self flagellating all the way.

    When was the last time ANY presidential candidate measured up to the unrealistic expectations of the electorate? While voters generally expect their candidates to be the embodiment of the second coming, the system which we perpetuate pretty much precludes the nomination of the best and brightest. At least Obama is articulate and has style. As Madison Avenue continually reminds us “image is everything.”

    I rather imagine that Obama will shred McCain in the debates, but that won’t matter to most. McCain gets a pass no matter what he says or does cause he’s a “straight talkin” GOB, and this country loves folksy, inarticulate doofuses in the White House.


  • Baritone,

    I think most us want a reliable father figure: someone whom we can really trust, who doesn’t stray too far from the our ideological norms, remains constant and doesn’t make vague promises we somehow don’t quite believe. At the same time, most of us probably want someone who does not treat us as naive children. Unfortunately, Senator Obama does not seem to fit these perhaps unrealistic expectations.


  • Jordan Richardson

    So wouldn’t a vote for John McCain be a little like voting for a tempermental, senile grandpappy?

  • Possibly. That’s why his choice of running mate is so very important.


  • Dan,

    I am not longing for a surrogate father in the White House. If your assessment is correct, that is really too bad for the country. Perhaps McCain can bolster his numbers if he were to send everyone a warm lap blanket and comfortable slippers with “McCain 2008” emblazoned on them. I know many felt Reagan fulfilled that image. I was always comforted and felt warm and runny inside upon seeing clips of Ronnie dozing off during meetings of his Cabinet or the Joint Chiefs, a few jelly beans rolling onto the floor from his slackened hand, and perhaps just the smallest bit of drool making its way down his strong Hollywood chin.

    As to pols making “vague promises we don’t quite believe,” when was that ever NOT the case? Every politician, even the best of them, promise the moon and stars when campaigning. I haven’t heard anything substantive coming from the McCain camp or the candidate himself. He has been no more specific, laid out no more in the way of nuts and bolts about anything than has Obama.

    Frankly, I don’t know what anyone would expect to hear from any candidate in their stump speeches. Getting into the details as to how various issues would be dealt with if elected would take time few of the candidates or their adoring audiences have; not to mention that delivering such information would be deadly dull. Further, McCain’s WEB site offers no more than does Obama’s in the way of details for anyone willing to take the time to read them.

    Who was the last politician whom you really trusted? The unswerving drive and self-centeredness required of anyone running for office, especially the presidency, is rarely concomitant with that person really giving a rats ass about anything but themselves and their own aggrandizement. It’s the nature of the beast.

    And the fact is that your assessment of Obama is not shared by a large number of people – perhaps a plurality of voters come November. I happen to like the guy as do many others.


  • Clavos

    And the fact is that your assessment of Obama is not shared by a large number of people – perhaps a plurality of voters come November. I happen to like the guy as do many others. (emphasis added)


    About as many as do share his assessment.

  • Lee Richards


    I want someone who isn’t a fraud or a phony–Ghandi would be great, if he were available.

    I also would like a candidate to possess integrity, intelligence, judgment, curiosity, empathy, compassion, a sense of humor, and the confidence not to run scared.

    In the land of the free and the home of the brave, with our unlimited opportunities and large population, I really don’t know why those should be unrealistic expectations for candidates, except that those who might meet them are usually out living real lives, instead of prancing and preening in the fraudulent and phony world of politics.

  • Lee,

    But whose fault is that? Look at what is demanded of political candidates. Again, it is the nature of the beast that politicians are forced to talk out of both sides of their mouths to have any chance of getting elected. So perhaps your expectations are, in fact, unrealistic. Given the nature of our system, I don’t see much chance for a cure.

    That being said, I find Barack Obama meets most if not all of your prescription. He has openly and often displayed intelligence, curiosity, empathy, compassion and certainly has a great sense of humor – is capable of laughing at himself and the pretensions of the task he has taken on, and yet seems to have no shortage of confidence.

    I’ve seen nothing that concerns me regarding his integrity and as to judgment, the jury may still be out on that one, but perhaps we will see in the coming 2 or 3 months.

    Actually, you will find a number of people who, in retrospect have come to the conclusion that Ghandi was a bit of a phoney and perhaps a fraud. I have not studied much about the man, but he does have his detractors. He was, afterall, just a guy AND a politician.


  • The spelling, as I’m fairly certain has been pointed out here before, is G-A-N-D-H-I.

  • Write u r

  • The Obnoxious American

    As info, I stopped reading after this:

    “As the current pulleys and levers have rusted from neglect, we have become aware of a spiteful class war between the greedy and the cynical, between the Preachers of Armageddon and the Children of the World Wide Web. ”

    Sure, its all black and white. I’m voting McCain so clearly I am greedy and preaching armageddon? Puleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze!

  • The Obnoxious American

    I think this debate about Obama’s attributes, or McCain’s lack thereof is wrong on it’s face. Any fair reading of McCain shows a lot in terms of integrity, honor, love for country, sacrifice, etc. There isn’t much in Obama’s history to read from, aside from the way he got into office in Illinois (forcing his competition off the ballot), his shifting policies, his self centered-ness.

    I’m not saying that the GOP charicature of Obama is any more true than the Dem charicature of McCain. The point is that they are both charicatures. So since when have we stopped caring about policies? Since when does great speech giving trump politicians who take a stand?

  • Lee Richards


    Thanks, Dr. D. Carelessness and/or ignorance on my part.


  • The *real* Audacity of Soap is supporting our injured veterans through donations to the Yellow Ribbon Fund. 🙂