Leveraging Process

October 20, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Uncategorized

It has been said that LBJ was a politician that loved legislative trench warfare, political struggle and the step-by-step combat that precedes the achievement of political goals.  There are those politicians that seem to love the fight.  Tom Delay was one that evidently relished vanquishing foes and dancing on their grave.  For these elected officials, it was not so much about the issues, but about the conflict.  Finding creative ways to work the rules and achieve goals seems to bring these (mostly men) satisfaction.

The more I read about Obama, the more I am concluding that this man is a politician, similar to LBJ, for whom issues are not the main event.  Yet, struggle is not Obama’s focus.  I suspect that for Obama, politics is about something different from what it was about for many movers and shakers of the past.  I’m thinking that for Obama, politics is about process.

There are implications.  Some of them are good.  One of the implications is that Obama is not an ideologue.  He’ll make decisions based upon the information available at the time and will be flexible to the process of give and take.  This characteristic makes him impressionable, and it forces the Left to make an impression.

Coming from a blue zone in a blue state, Obama may be as left as he is going to get for a while.  As a politician consumed with process, he would be expected to mirror his surroundings.  With a change in constituency, a change in position can be expected.  But this attention to process also means he can change with the times when the larger environment transforms.

Our environment is transforming.

Bill Clinton was a politician in love with the process of governance.  For Clinton, this love seemed a defect.  Provided opportunities to take a stand, over time he withdrew to negotiate with the varying forces that demanded attention, seeking compromise instead of clear positions that accompany vision.  There are similarities between Obama and Clinton, but we have moved into a very different time.  In this case, the times will make the man.

I’m fascinated by what specific forces compelled Roosevelt to fight for and achieve the radical positions staked out by the New Deal.  How was Roosevelt leveraged to act?  How will today’s environment be different from the 1930s paradigm?  Today, the unions are weak.  What forces will step into the vacuum?

Consumed with process, Obama is vulnerable to process interventions.  I suspect that social networking and its allied technologies are going to be big players influencing Obama’s game.  From what I observe in the American Left, it’s the young Left that will be the players.  The old Left does not seem to understand.


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