Deepak Chopra: Why Obama Needs to Reach Deeper

September 13, 2008

Deepak Chopra provides excellent insights about Election 2008.  Here’s his copywrited blog post dated 10SEP08 in its entirety:

The race has changed, now what? All reports indicate that the Obama camp is rife with confusion about where they stand in the face of the meteoric rise of Sarah Palin and John McCain’s ability to bring the Republican Party together. Neither one was remotely anticipated. This is more than a bump. I think Obama needs to recognize that the tide has decisively turned in McCain’s favor. Palin is shooting down the turnpike, and unless Obama puts up a big hand to stop her, McCain is going to ride her coattails to the White House. The tire is deflating on the Democrats, and once enthusiastic supporters are becoming disheartened.

Right now, complacency is the enemy. The Democratic leadership in the House and Senate have been quiescent for more than a year, on the assumption that letting George Bush hang himself would be enough. It wasn’t, and as a result public disapproval of Congress is as high or higher, than disapproval of the President. Obama can’t afford to rest on his past message. Right-thinking Democrats view Palin as absurd and obnoxious, but she isn’t going to hang herself, anymore than Bush did. Kerry showed himself to be sorely lacking at just this juncture in the 2004 campaign. He had every reason to win, but he didn’t find the means to turn those reasons into a win. He wasn’t alert and flexible in the face of change, and he acted like Gentleman Jim in the face of Swift-boating instead of fighting back with honest outrage.

McCain made two brilliant changes at the convention. He energized the radical right, knowing that he couldn’t win without them. Palin isn’t a joke to a sizable swath of the electorate; she’s a champ. Second, he pretended to repudiate Republican corruption, in essence slapping the party in the face. Everyone with an ounce of sense knows that they deserved it, so in one stroke McCain appeared more honest; he signalled that integrity trumped party loyalty. Independents liked that, and now they are trending toward him.

From the beginning, Obama has had two prongs to his campaign strategy. The first was change, the second was throwing out the scoundrels. McCain has undercut both quite effectively. Therefore, Obama is unlikely to win by repeating the same message, that McCain is basically a third term for Bush, since Independents don’t yet trust Obama to be their alternative to Bush. Obama has to be as flexible in his message as McCain has been.

He needs to show genuine outrage at the Republican smear campaign and call McCain to task personally for allowing it.

He has to unleash a woman like Hillary Clinton to attack Palin as a huge step backward for women. The Hillary camp needs a strong motivation to back Obama, not a grudging one.

He or Joe Biden must forcefully make Palin look extremist.

He needs to run on more than vague optimism. I don’t think that means handing out policy statements, which are as bloodless as planks in the party platform. It means more emotion and visceral opposition to everything Bush stands for.

The bottom line is that for America to turn the page, Obama has to turn the page on his campaign first. As a general call to the troops, asking for change worked in the primaries; it woke people up. But Hillary Clinton’s momentum in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia showed that a more visceral appeal was needed, and will work. At this moment McCain looks plausibly like a change candidate, and so Obama must fight against him and look like he’s fighting. The essential problem which runs deep, is that Republicans operate on the assumption that Democrats will lose, while Democrats operate on the fear that Republicans can’t be beaten. That has to turn around or we will be handed a self-fulfilling prophecy in November.

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Deepak Chopra on Barack Obama & Sarah Palin

September 11, 2008

From: Deepak Chopra | Posted: Friday, September 5th, 2008
Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche
even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the
rousing effect that
Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in
Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan
Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the
complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000
residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth
of New York City. By comparison,
Rudy Giuliani is a towering international
figure. Palin’s pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real
appeal goes deeper.
She is the reverse of
Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his
idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst imp ulses. In psychological
terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering
our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face:
anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the
other.” For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they
don’t want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher
selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just
to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that
Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the
I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by
the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand
Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to
those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.
 Look at what she stands for:
 –Small town values — a denial of America’s global role, a return to
petty, small-minded parochialism.
 –Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair
America’s image abroad.
Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for
social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be
 –Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these
issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
 –Patriotism — the usual fallback in a failed war.
 –“Reform” — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out
corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t
fit your ideology.
 Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been
in play since 198 0, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and
immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be
ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign
threat. The radical right marches under the banners of “I’m all right,
Jack,” and “Why change? Everything’s OK as it is.” The irony,
of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She
can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of
feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who
stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against
their own good.
The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising
shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and
 Obama’s call for higher ideals in politics can’t be seen in a vacuum.
The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a
shadow — we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of
progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal
become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that
she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It
would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking
horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state
we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.