Barack Obama, The Aloha Zen President
Barack Obama, The Aloha Zen President
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How a Son of the 50th State May Revitalize America Based on 12 Multicultual Principles
by Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Michael Haas and 11 coauthors, renowned scholars
Foreword by Michael Dukakis
The book reveals the source of President Barack Obama’s charismatic personality and centrist political philosophy, which has baffled many observers because they have never lived in Hawai`i.
The book proves that Obama seeks to apply to his presidency the 12 multicultural principles uniquely developed in Hawai‘i to provide harmonious race relations
President Barack Obama has said, “There is no doubt that the residue of Hawai‘i will always stay with me, that it is part of my core, and that what’s best in me, and what’s best in my message, is consistent with the tradition of Hawai‘i.” Indeed, there are numerous links between the culture of the Islands and Obama’s beliefs, career, personality, politics, philosophy, and temperament.
Obama’s aspiration to transform America using Hawai‘i as his model has been a conspicuous theme in his books and speeches over the years. He embodies Hawai‘i’s famed multicultural ethos, a normative, problem-solving mindset predicated on mutual respect and harmonious interchange that is inculcated in the culture, politics, and society of the Islands.
Indeed, this “Aloha Spirit” is imbued in Barack Obama, is part of what made him irresistibly charismatic as a candidate in 2008, and explains why his demeanor appeared to have changed after he took the oath of office as the 44th President of the United States.
Among the revelations in the book's 15 chapters are the following:
• The only book to identify Barack Obama’s political philosophy—communitarian pragmatism.
• Proves that the interracial marriage that produced Barack Obama is the norm in Hawai‘i, not the exception, using statistics.
• Defines the meaning and explicates the reality of the Aloha Spirit.
• Remarks that Obama smiles and laughs so much because he picked up “Island humor” from a young age.
• Demonstrates the way in which Native Hawaiians have been dispossessed of their sovereignty and their land yet have persistently sought justice—and how their quest has been a model for Obama’s mobilization of support for his candidacy.
• Documents through surveys how Whites from Mainland America, similar to Obama’s mother and maternal grandparents, change their values fundamentally and become multicultural after they move to Hawai‘i.
• Narrates how and why non-Whites are viewed so differently in Hawai‘i from the Mainland, such that Obama could grow up believing that he could become president some day.
• Brings to light Obama’s use of the Hawai‘i Creole language, which can only be pronounced with a smile and a sense of working class solidarity.
• Shows how racist media were transformed into a multicultural mélange that has enabled residents of Hawai‘i, including Obama, to learn from other cultures daily and thereby become more respectful of cultural differences.
• Exposes the false pictures of Hawai‘i written by such famous authors as Jack London and W. Somerset Maugham.
• Reveals Barack Obama’s literary mentor, an African American journalist and poet who lived in Waikīkī.
• Depicts the inner workings of Hawai‘i politics, especially the development of post-racial Island politics that apparently inspired Barack Obama to major in political science and later to run for office as an issue-oriented candidate rather than as a “Black candidate.”
• Interprets the story of how Hawai‘i became the most unionized state in the United States when different ethnic groups cooperated to ensure living wages and forged a pluralistic democracy at the polls, providing a model for Obama’s vision of politics and later candidacy.
• Discloses how election victories have been won by a “political machine” that is the longest lasting in the country today, and wherein Obama applied techniques to his candidacy long rooted in Hawai‘i politics.
• Unveils how a quiet civil rights movement revolutionized public education in Hawai‘i, proving to Obama that social change can be done without fanfare.
• Offers an economic picture of the economic rise and fall of the Island economy as a microcosm for what Obama knows is happening to the United States as a whole—the progressive decapitalization of the economy by global forces and associated loss of jobs.
• Reprints the text of the Aloha Spirit Law, which guides governmental decisions in Hawai‘i with the force of law.
• Makes public how the military defied Obama’s executive order to respect human rights at Guantánamo.
• Attributes in-fighting over Guantánamo and other issues to the fact that Obama accepted Clinton-era appointees who differed from his own closest advisers.
• Spells out the principles of the Obama Doctrine in foreign policy and how they are rooted in his multicultural upbringing.
• Observes that he has the most multiethnic Cabinet in American history, with many advisers who have lived abroad.
• Discloses that the father of his Treasury Secretary once employed his mother.
• Relates Obama’s health insurance goals to the model provided by the first state in the nation with near-universal coverage—Hawai‘i, where his grandmother’s employer was required to provide insurance and where today the state has the highest insurance coverage in the nation at lowest cost and with minimum governmental inference.
• Presents the chief dilemma of Obama’s presidency as the search for compromise by treating opponents with respect, as he would in the Aloha State, but who lack the civility or the habit of responding in kind.
• Notes that Wall Street has checkmated Obama’s efforts to fix the economy by not making loans and providing the capital to create jobs and avoid housing foreclosures.
• Recognizes how the lush environment of Hawai‘i and its goal of becoming self-sufficient in locally-produced alternative energy provide a model for Obama’s policies relating to energy and the environment.
• Detects Obama’s approach to terrorism as giving primacy to criminal perspectives over military solutions.
• Links Obama’s homeschooling by his mother to his approach to education—encouraging parents to get more involved in their children’s learning.
• Answers the question whether President Obama has advanced acceptance of African Americans in American society and has fostered a post-racial America.
• Characterizes Obama’s tenure in office as disarming his critics by demonstrating competence with humility and decisiveness after wide consultation—as cerebral, incremental, methodical, and thoughtful, building consensus to make decisions that will represent the view of the experts as well as the will of the people.
• The only book that shows the value of interculturalism in American life at a time when the increasing non-White majority is transforming American culture, politics, and society.
• The only book to link quotes from Barack Obama to his philosophy, italicizing his remarks throughout the book.
“From the election of the nation’s first nonwhite governor to its guaranteed health care plan to the Aloha spirit of friendly calm, Hawai‘i has shaped Barack Obama. His presidency cannot be understood without a better knowledge of the 50th state. This insightful and surprising book is the perfect place to begin.”—Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One; Newsweek Journalist; and MSNBC Commentator
Nonfiction; xxiv + 436 p.; including bibliography & index
Hard cover (ISBN: 9780313394027) $54.95