Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity

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Potomac Books, Inc., Jul 1, 2012 - Political Science - 270 pages
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Our national identity is defined by what it means to be an American and whom we include and why when we talk about “the American people.” A country’s national identity is fluid, and Ian Reifowitz argues that President Barack Obama, by emphasizing the ideals Americans hold dear, hopes to redefine ours in a fundamental way. Obama’s conception of America emphasizes two principles of national unity: First, all Americans, regardless of their heritage and cultural traditions, should identify with America as their country, based upon shared democratic values, a shared history, and a shared fate. Second, America should embrace all its citizens as active participants in one “family.” Reifowitz explores Obama’s belief that strengthening our common bonds will encourage Americans to rectify the injustices and heal the racial divisions that still plague our country.

We have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that a society of many races and cultures can truly become one people. In facing terrorism, violent fundamentalism, and other security issues, Obama’s response centers on a powerful, inspiring, and truly inclusive American narrative. By bolstering America’s identity as diverse yet unified, he aims both to counter the anxieties and fears that radicalism stokes and give proponents of religious and political freedom a model they can defend. The stakes couldn’t be any higher in determining America’s future.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
From the Revolution through the 1960s
11
Radical Multiculturalism Its Critics and How Obama Fits In
27
3 Obamas Search for His Own Identity
47
Causes Effects and Policies to Combat It
71
5 Candidate and President Obamas Broader Rhetoric on Race
89
6 Obamas Vision of National Identity and National Unity
109
7 Obamas Narrative of American History and Our Place in the World
135
RightWing Exclusionists and LeftWing Race Critics
163
Conclusion
199
Notes
203
Selected Bibliography
239
Index
243
About the Author
251
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

IAN REIFOWITZ is an associate professor of history at Empire State College of the State University of New York. In 2009 he received the college’s Susan H. Turben Award for Scholarly Excellence. His opinion pieces and articles on American politics have appeared in Newsday, the New Republic, History News Network, and the Daily Kos. He is the author of Imagining an Austrian Nation (East European Monographs, 2003). He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.

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