Hosts Celeste Carey and Cecil Prescod interview James Kloppenberg about his book "Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition."
Intellectual historian Kloppenberg says the influences that have shaped Obama's distinctive worldview, include Nietzsche and Niebuhr, Ellison and Rawls, and recent theorists engaged in debates about feminism, critical race theory, and cultural norms. Kloppenberg argues that Obama's interest in compromise, reasoned public debate, and the patient nurturing of civility is a sign of strength, not weakness. He locates its roots in Madison, Lincoln, and especially in the philosophical pragmatism of William James and John Dewey, which nourished generations of American progressives, black and white, female and male, through much of the twentieth century, albeit with mixed results.
James T. Kloppenberg is the Charles Warren Professor of American History and chair of the History Department at Harvard University. His books include Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870-1920; The Virtues of Liberalism; and A Companion to American Thought.