Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

Obama and “I’m Just Like You” Politics (by Deepak Chopra)

In recent weeks Barack Obama has been faulted for, among other things, misunderstanding working-class gun owners and church goers, bowling a 37, wanting a Philly cheese steak with goat cheese instead of Cheez Whiz, and associating with a former Sixties radical who is now a professor of English. These accusations, aimed at him by the Clinton campaign and various Republican sources, amount to a single insinuation: Obama has failed to pass the “I’m just like you” test. Previous politicians who have similarly failed: John Kerry for windsurfing, Michael Dukakis for posing in an Army tank, Al Gore for “throwing like a girl” when he played touch football in a campaign ad, and John Edwards for getting a haircut that allegedly cost $400.


Example of a politician who passed with flying colors: George W. Bush.
Let’s examine, then, whether such a test is a worthy or at least innocuous ritual that all politicians must endure in a democracy, a form of reassurance that the privileged elite won’t take power. Pres. Bush is the textbook definition of the privileged elite, both socially and economically. Unlike Obama, his financial comfort has been assured since the day of his birth. Yet he fits the image of a regular guy who would be comfortable hoisting a few at the corner bar with off-work steelworkers. In reality the Republican Party is staunchly a club for privileged white males, which has had the good fortune to convince less fortunate white males that they all belong under one roof.
We can leave that aside, and also the question of whether Bush basically represents only the rich and their special interests. The deeper point is that “I’m just like you” is a sham. The U.S. Senate is made up 80% of lawyers and former prosecutors. The vast majority are millionaires. Rich or not, they must placate wealthy special interests in order to raise campaign funds. Despite the elitist suspicions aimed by Hillary Clinton at Obama, her family’s $109 million income since Bill Clinton left office isn’t lunch box money, nor did it come without influence peddling to those who can afford to pay. By comparison, Obama’s education, intelligence, and relative lack of pandering to the rich is more than admirable. It’s even non-elitist, as evidenced by the fact that his campaign money rests on a core of small contributors, 2.5 million strong, rather than Sen. Clinton’s small group of fat cats, party loyalists, and her husband’s carefully groomed political connections.
In a NY Times column last week, David Brooks declared that Obama is now tarnished, that he has fallen to earth from his idealistic campaign of last winter and is now nothing more than a conventional liberal whose chances in November deeply worry savvy Democratic politicians. But this is merely a Republican wish masquerading as reality. A surge of hope lifted Obama’s candidacy in the first place, and even if he has entered a period of fatigue and counter-punching, no one mistakes his candidacy for business as usual. The real worry is that a lulled electorate will allow itself to be duped once more by the “I’m just like you” litmus test. They might. The Republican smear machine has been effective, and public apathy and aversion to politicians have bred a climate where trivial issues trump critically important ones. But Obama has rested his case on the need to wake up. People have been doing just that. There’s every hope in November that voters will be able to tell the difference between a lame bowling game and a disastrous, dishonest war.

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posted April 21, 2008 at 12:35 pm

You are absolutely correct in your analysis that most politicians are part of the “elite.” I am less optimistic that voters will actually make their decisions on the real issues in this campaign than the “I’m like you” test or some other nonsense. After all, that hasn’t seemed to be the case in most presidential elections that I’ve witnessed [’68 on]. Yet it is true that Obama has tapped into a deep well of discontent over how our current system is working. What happens is that both sides are simply yelling at each other over ideological trivia while nothing really gets done. Most of the political pundits ignore that in their analyses. If he gets the chance, he could be transformational.

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Jeff Young

posted April 21, 2008 at 11:22 pm

I had high hopes for Obama – especially after seeing his bipartisan work in the Darfur campaign. However, Obama has proven himself – not from the straw man arguments you’ve referenced, Deepak, but from his numerous gaffes and the background material that has emerged over the past year – that he is every bit as disingenuous as the republicans you are ripping. Wake up!
Bush is not some sort of genius, privileged, conniving, evil person. He is, as described by an honest liberal, more like an “affable simpleton.” He is genuine and honest, but too modernist and authoritarian in his approach. If it works, it’s great and Americans love it (as they did between 01 and 04). But, if it doesn’t work, it backfires. He made a major gaffe with the Iraq War – but it’s not based on dishonesty.
If you are going to label Bush as dishonest (rather than disastrous – I’ll give you that) you also have to label Obama as dishonest! Where is the intellectual integrity in that statement about Bush while backing Obama? Please! Obama was utterly dishonest in a speech I heard in Selma last year (when he attached himself and his family background to the Selma marches – a complete distortion of his own family’s history); he is a facade, a shame, a fraud.
I have no issue with a good, liberal politician who is against the war and really wants to change the tenor of Washington – to be honest, refreshing, fair-minded with all sides, and open to consideration.
But, this article is utterly unChristlike and deeply flawed by its political bias.

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posted April 21, 2008 at 11:31 pm

I am curious to see what happens in this American election as a result of an intense awakening that is evolving since the last election. I believe millions of Americans felt they were doing the world a favor by voting for someone who claimed to have very strong Christian principles. In theroy, that should be something positive.
But, theroy and practice as different as quoting the words of Jesus and being those words in life…or Buddha, etc.
Even Rumi’s life laden words of hope, love, ectasy and bliss of expansion are only words without the silent presence being present.
I listened to the Soul Of Healing Meditations the other day, which I had not heard in a year of so. The Psalms you read remind me of the hope I have for our Source to be manifest, in the north, south, east and west and influence the decisions of nations in the days to come.
Once risen, whoever may lead, may they have the protection of all Life to keep them from all harm and distraction.
Humble thanks Deepak,

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posted April 22, 2008 at 9:57 am

It doesn’t exactly matter “who” the President is so much as who is voted into Congress. Don’t be duped into thinking the President is all mighty and powerful. He isn’t. Obama, Hillary, Bill, Bush 1 or 2, McCain, it doesn’t matter in the end. The can’t do much without Congress backing them. Americans need to put more thought into who they elect into Congress since those people seem to stay there longer and do more damage. The Pres. can only stay for 8 years max. How many Congressmen stay 8 years and then exit?? Not many. Hillary can’t get her health reform passed unless Congress is behind her. Same with Obama. McCain can’t keep us in Iraq if Congress says to exit!
I am tired of the bashing of candidates. I liked Bush when he ran. He did his best to let things go when he was attacked. It was said he smoked and drank and he admitted it and said “So what!” I am human and Laura straightened him right up he said. Obama lets Hillary bash him all she wants without retaliation. That shows more character than anything else. It is called Turning the other cheek.

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posted April 22, 2008 at 3:56 pm

The truth is, we get the national leader we deserve, based on the collective consciousness of the nation. I have a good feeling about the rising consciousness of this nation. Then I think back to the last two elections, 2000 and 2004, And I wonder how vote tampering plays into this? Does that mean that the collective consciousness of the majority of Americans believes they must “win” (at their personal “game of life”) at all costs, that cheating is okay if it gets the results they (we) want? This is really about our personal integrity, down to the smallest blip, within each of our (inner and outer) lives.
In Peace, Love and Transformation,

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posted April 22, 2008 at 3:59 pm

P.S. and I voted for Obama, and hope to vote for him again!

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posted April 22, 2008 at 7:08 pm

I see no proof that Bush is honest and/or genuine. In fact, we’ve seen much evidence to the contrary in the honesty attribute. And who determines “genuiness”. Seems the politicians all have to tailor themselves to the whims of the voters so any genuiness is impossible to discern. Bush has been an absolute disaster for our country and there is much evidence McCain would simply continue down that tragic road. I was torn between supporting Clinton and Obama, but Clinton’s use of Bush-like fear tactics has convinced me I must now support Obama. I don’t need her to threaten me with fears of Bin Laden or 3 a.m. attacks–Bush and Cheney have already done that ad nauseum and I’m still not shaking in my boots.

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posted April 22, 2008 at 8:47 pm

With all due respect Dr. Chopra, I am kind of astounded that such an educated and intelligent man like yourself, could be so narrow minded when it comes to republicans. Your article above is rife with stereotypes about them.
If someone I knew had a prejudice towards a particular race or religion, I would probably want to know if they knew anyone, or had any friends from that group, to shed some light on whether or not they speak out of ignorance. I guess I have to ask you the same thing – do you know any republicans, do you have any friends who are? It is pretty obvious that you don’t understand them at all, and probably wouldn’t even want to try, based on the tone of your article.
I’m just wondering if you remember the emphasis on “critical thinking” in college, i.e., to consider (in-depth) another point of view before passing judgement.
Your diatribe is all too familiar – I have heard it from myself. Several years ago, I readily dismissed republicans as stodgy, change resistant, and favorable to the rich, among other things commonly attributed to them. Then, I started to really listen to them. I wanted to find out what made them tick. It turned out, some of the things I heard were very wise and profound, so slowly, I started to change my mind about them.
Republicans are so hated, and hated so much by people who really don’t have any idea what they are all about, stuck firm in their assumptions about them (I speak from experience).
I guess I’m just sad and disappointed to hear your comments, as it demonstrates that even very bright and well educated people can be caught up in group think. I’m afraid it kind of shatters my image of you as wise and open minded.

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posted April 22, 2008 at 11:08 pm

I can’t believe the American public is so naive as to believe it when all of these politicians play the “I’m just like you” card. The vast percentage of them are in the upper classes unlike the rest of the people. George Bush is a prime example. How could anyone be so dense as to believe he’s like they are.
Barach Obama is not just like us either. For that matter none of us are “just like us” – we’re all different. Thank God. But Mr. Obama is different enough from what’s been running the country enough that he might just have a vision to take this country that our present president (I couldn’t refer to him as a leader) has totally screwed up and turn it in the right direction. We need someone really different, someone with a brain who thinks before he speaks instead of just reciting memeorized sound bites this time. So what if he bowls lousy – I want someone who hasn’t got time to bowl – someone who won’t be on vacation everytime the wind blows – someone who will be at the scene of a disaster before five days. I want a leader and you know real leaders – they lead – they don’t go along with the pack. Now that’s not something I can say about anyone but Obama.

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posted April 23, 2008 at 1:59 am

We need Hillary in the White House. For one reason and the most important. Bush has put this country in a astronomical deficit. Which candidate can pull us out as fast as possible? Which candidate has the experience to do this? Bill was friends with many other countries and respected. We are not a stand alone country any loner. We are the world. One Globe. One Planet. Our economy affects China’s economy. China’s economy affects Europe and the middle east. (A butterfly flapping it’s wings can cause a tornado on the other side of the planet.) 1,000,000 people thinking together the same thought can change the patterns of the earth. Obama is a GREAT motivational speaker. Is he the best candidate for this country right now? I like Obama. BUT we need Hillary. In an ideal world, Obama would be Hillary’s running mate. Then we can have our deficit fixed quick and an awakening for the the USA and the rest of the world. It’s time for a business WOMAN and a BLACK man and an economist and a motivational speaker to take the WORLD to the next step in human evolution. Vote with your heart. And while you are at it, let’s ask for Warren Buffet to be secretary treasurer and Deepak for enlightenment! Amen

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posted April 23, 2008 at 10:27 am

Although your point is well taken, I feel you may be forgetting about the other democrat who is running for office. During the Clinton Administration our country prospered. The “elite” were not “AS” elite. They had to pay a decent wage to get a hardworking individual to work. Even more true, less college students had to work to get through school. The parents were able to help them out. There was enough money for all. The good of the people was for everyone to live comfortably.
Mr. Bush, although, I may like had he been my next door neighbor, has done nothing but take food from our mouths (literally); while allowing the excess amount of legal and illegal immigration to ruin our economy. The wealthiest of people can make more money and pay their workers less money, cut their health benefits and retirement. What American ever thought their hard earned moneys would be taken from their paycheck to be saved for their retirement only to be turned around and spent for food stamps for too many immigrants or to a war that killed thousands of people. I don’t want my money labeled blood money or to feed immigrants that were feeding themselves in their own country. I don’t want to see my country disintegrate to wealthy and starving poor. I believe in the phrase, “For the Good of All”. The good of all is not to bring others in from other countries and feed them, when we have our own starving and the people we are feeding were feeding themselves in the land they originated. It is not for the good of all to see the sad faces of the people who live in the crime ridden neighborhoods loose their family members from shootings just because they happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. What is wrong with America when America no longer cares about itself????
Obama’s statements were upsetting to me. Only because he seemed to be hinting middle class Americans were bitter towards immigration for no good reason. And to deal with it.
I know Deepak, you immigrated to our country, as did my ancestors. I have nothing against immigration. Just HOW MUCH immigration is the question??

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Susan from Wisconsin

posted April 26, 2008 at 10:19 pm

At this time, there is alot of anti liberal, anti Hillary, anti Obama
stuff circulating the internet. If you have ever travelled in the
some of the southern states, you can see that certain ways of thinking
are still firmly in place. Right now they are pooping their pants at
the idea that there is a good chance that our next president may be
a women or a man of color. Yet, our nation is craving for the new,
the fresh, something truly better and different. We simply cannot
take any more of the old! Try to ignore the rhetoric and hype, use
the brain and good sense you have been given. Personally, a Clinton –
Obama ticket would tickle me pink!!

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Emma Smart

posted April 28, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Wouldn’t it be nice if Obama and Hillary would decide that they’d be each other’s running mates? It would make it so much easier! I think they both bring value to the ticket. I’m hoping the whomever is elected will have more ability in the compassion category than we’ve seen lately. I am SICK about the news I hear lately, in the U.S. and around the world. I want people to act like human beings. I wish there was an enlightenment cabinet post. It smacks of putting religion and state together. I happen to know that Hillary is pro-cooperation, I assume Obama is also and we need more of that. I tire of hearing about human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world. I am just sick about it. I want all torture to cease around the world. Human Rights has sunk to deplorable levels and we have to bring it back up. I’m hoping that voting in September will make a difference.

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