Nostalgia is a powerful force. Research shows that we are all capable of creating an idealized memory out of a less-than-ideal past. There are psychological benefits to that, but not when you’re trying to lead people into the future.
Obama has, somewhat surprisingly, positioned himself as an old-school Democrat with a bad case of nostalgia. In his reconstructed view, jobs were lost and bad things happened not because the world changed, but because politicians didn’t adequately take care of us. (And despite the shortcoming of Washington–that much I agree with–the world is a much different place than Obama seems to recognize.) He wants to be our benefactor and caregiver and the changes he most wants to create are a return to idealized time in a world that no longer exists and perhaps never did.
I don’t want that kind of leadership from any politician or political party. An individual in denial is sad but a nation in denial is tragic. Instead, I hope voters want someone who tells us the truth unvarnished by spin and nostalgia. And I hope we elect a leader who deals with new realities, not old imaginings. We need a leader who can lead the right change going forward, not retreating into the past.
I had hoped for more from Obama. Despite the promise he holds, he has in my opinion proven what his opponents have said all along: he lacks experience. That has become obvious in both his analysis of the current situation and his proposed solutions. He appeals most to members of the Nostalgic Party.
It’s important that we learn from the past, but I agree we need to live in the present and look forward to the future. One of my favorite quotes fits nicely with your topic:
“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”
— Eric Hoffer