January 22, 2009

Academic Advices for the new American President

Like the vast majority of the people on this earth I was delighted with the victory of Barack Obama and the transition of power two days ago. Most people expect from Obama to address a number of hot issues like the environment, the financial collapse, the world peace and the civil / human rights from a totally different perspective than the George Bush and his friends. This will help restoring the image of the US, so badly battered by the naive, arrogant or even stupid policies of the previous administration.
The change promised by Obama must be drastic on political level to begin with. As an Athenian myself I was glad with the advice of Josiah Ober, professor in Classics and Political Science in Stanford on "how Barack Obama might benefit from re-visiting the tenets of Athenian democracy as he begins his presidency".

Ober notices: “First, remember that the original meaning of democracy was not “majority rule.” When we Athenians invented it, democracy meant “the capacity of the Demos – that is, the People -- to make things happen.” There is a big difference between the majority and the Demos. You are now the leader of the entire American Demos, not of a party or a faction. You need to find ways to stay in touch with the Demos. That will require a lot more than good opinion polling. No matter what anyone tells you, democracy is not just about aggregating popular opinions, or individual preferences, or special interests".

Obama's history and functioning so far indicate that he is open to listen and put such ideas into action.