Saturday, November 1, 2014
13

Eine Metapher für Obama

NEW HAVEN – Für den Beginn seiner zweiten Amtszeit braucht US-Präsident Barack Obama eine eingängige Art und Weise, seine Vision und das Wesen seiner Wirtschaftspolitik auszudrücken – eine Metapher, um die herum sich die Unterstützung für seine Politik gruppieren kann, was die politische Effektivität seiner Administration stärken würde. Wie also funktioniert eine erfolgreiche Metapher?

In seinem Wahlkampf 2008 verwendete Obama den Slogan „Change we can believe in“. Aber das Wort „Veränderung“ ist keine Metapher für eine neue Regierung, weil es nicht für eine bestimmte Politik steht. Dasselbe gilt für „Hope“ oder „Yes we can!“.

In seinem Wahlkampf 2012 verwendete Obama als Slogan nur ein einziges Wort: „Forward!“. Auch das ist wieder kein Wort, das mit einer bestimmten Politik oder der ihr zugrundeliegenden Philosophie in Zusammenhang gebracht werden kann. Jeder Politiker, egal ob liberal oder konservativ, möchte sich vorwärts bewegen, nicht rückwärts.

Obamas Slogans sind Beispiele für tote Metaphern, weil sie nicht für ein übergreifendes Konzept stehen.

Präsident Roosevelt dagegen verwendete in den 1930ern eine Metapher, die auch heute noch sehr lebendig ist. Die Idee des „New Deal“ entstand während seines ersten Präsidentschaftswahlkampfes 1932, obwohl er hinsichtlich der genauen Bedeutung des Ausdrucks immer sehr vage war.

Offenbar borgten sich Roosevelt oder seine Redenschreiber den Ausdruck aus dem Buch A New Deal von Stuart Chase, das 1932 erschien und in jenem Jahr auch Thema einer Titelgeschichte der Zeitschrift The New Republic war. Chase beschrieb seinen neuen Deal allgemein als die „grundlegende und progressive Sanierung der Wirtschaftsstruktur bei gleichzeitiger Vermeidung eines harten Bruchs mit der Vergangenheit“. Und obwohl die politischen Vorschläge des Buches wenig mit Roosevelts späteren Maßnahmen gemein haben, steckte in seinem Titel eine starke Anziehungskraft, die Roosevelt erkannt haben musste.

„New Deal“ vermittelt das Bild eines Geschäfts, wie die Übernahme einer Firma oder ein Anreizpaket für Manager – etwas, das die beteiligten Parteien untereinander aushandeln und auf das sie sich einigen. Etwas, das nicht erzwungen wird. Durch die Verwendung des Wortes „Deal“ machte Roosevelt klar, dass er nicht vorhatte, gegen die Wirtschaft zu agieren: Es hörte sich an wie ein Arbeitsangebot, wie die Aufforderung, mitzumachen und eine Chance zu ergreifen. Und weil Geschäfte gut oder schlecht sein können, fair oder ausbeuterisch, gab das Wort „New“ dem Ausdruck eine methaphorische Tiefe, indem es suggeriert, dass Roosevelts „Deal“ besser, fairer und attraktiver war.

Die Metapher trug zu einem überwältigenden Erfolg an den Wahlurnen bei und stand für Roosevelts Mandat, die Wirtschaft auf eine Art und Weise zu sanieren, die innovativ, aber im Grundsatz noch immer kapitalistisch war. Einige der Initiativen seiner Administration, wie die Schaffung der Börsenaufsichtsbehörde, erschienen zunächst wirtschaftsfeindlich, sind aber schon lange als ein Segen für Wettbewerb und Dynamik etabliert, weil sie unfaires oder manipulatives Verhalten ahnden.

Metaphern sind tatsächlich mehr als nur Worte. Erkenntnisse der modernen Neurowissenschaften zufolge gehören Metaphern zum Wesen von Kreativität, denn ihre Nutzung aktiviert verschiedene Regionen des Gehirns, die mit ihren verschiedenen Bedeutungen zusammenhängen. Gute Metaphern sind die, die die richtigen unbewussten Verbindungen in unseren Gehirnen aktivieren. Es wurden zum Beispiel große Fortschritte beim Verständnis von Schall und Licht erzielt, als die Wissenschaftler begannen, sie sich in der Form von Meereswellen vorzustellen.

Die Formulierung einer guten Metapher für die zweite Amtszeit von Obama ist eine Anforderung an intuitives, kreatives Denken, wozu auch gehört, dass Obama neu überlegt, was er für seine zweite Amtszeit vorschlägt. Eine gute Metapher könnte zum Beispiel die Idee einer „einbeziehenden Wirtschaft“ enthalten. Das Wort „einbeziehend“ hat einen starken Klang: Amerikaner wollen nicht per se mehr Staat, sie wollen eher, dass der Staat dafür sorgt, dass mehr Menschen an der Marktwirtschaft teilnehmen können. Meinungsumfragen zufolge wollen Amerikaner Jobs mehr als alles andere – der Beginn von Einbezug.

Das heutige Pendant zu Chases Buch ist der Bestseller von 2012 Why Nations Fail von dem Ökonomen Daron Acemoglu und dem Politikwissenschaftler James Robinson. Acemoglu und Robinson zufolge beweist die Geschichte, dass jene politischen Ordnungen langfristig erfolgreicher sind, die alle am Wirtschaftsprozess beteiligen.

Die Zeit scheint reif für die Idee des Einbezugs und passenderweise verkörpert Obama selbst den Triumph dieser Idee. Aber es ist ein weiterer Schritt hin zur Metaphernbildung nötig, um den wirtschaftlichen Einbezug mit aufzunehmen.

Der größte Erfolg der ersten Amtszeit von Obama hatte mit wirtschaftlichem Einbezug zu tun. Das neue Gesundheitsgesetz („Obamacare“) bietet mehr Menschen Zugang zur Gesundheitsversorgung – und bringt mehr Menschen zu privaten Versicherungen – als jemals zuvor in den Vereinigten Staaten. Die Dodd-Frank-Finanzreformen schufen das Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, eine Behörde für Verbraucherschutz, so dass privat erstellte Finanzprodukte dem öffentlichen Wohl besser dienen, und schufen Anreize für Derivate, die an Börsen gehandelt werden können. Und er unterzeichnete das JOBS-Gesetz, das von seinen republikanischen Gegenspielern vorgeschlagen wurde und das Gruppenfinanzierungen unterstützt, damit kleine Investoren an Startups teilnehmen können.

Noch ist der Höhepunkt der wirtschaftlichen Inklusion nicht erreicht. Es gibt hunderte anderer Möglichkeiten wie Investorenschulung und Finanzberatung, flexiblere Hypotheken, bessere Verbriefung von Krediten in Wertpapierform, mehr Versicherung für eine breitere Palette an Lebensrisiken und ein besseres Management von Karriererisiken. Weiterer Fortschritt hinsichtlich umfassender Termin- und Derivatemärkte würde helfen, wie auch eine Politik, um die Schwellenländer zu ermutigen, sich mehr an der US-Wirtschaft zu beteiligen. (Die Einbezugsmetapher ist tatsächlich im Wesentlichen im Geiste global, hätte Obama sie in der Vergangenheit verwendet, wäre seine Politik möglicherweise weniger protektionistisch gewesen.)

Die richtige Metapher würde einige dieser Ideen oder andere ähnliche auf den Weg bringen, und dann könnte ein Vision für Amerikas Zukunft entstehen, die, wie der New Deal, während des Realisierungsprozesses an Kohärenz gewinnt. Am 29. Januar wird Obama die erste Ansprache zur Lage der Union seiner neuen Amtszeit halten. Er sollte darüber nachdenken, wie er – lebendig und mitreißend – die Grundsätze vermitteln kann, die seine Entscheidungen bisher geleitet haben und dadurch einen Weg in Amerikas Zukunft weisen.

Aus dem Englischen von Eva Göllner-Breust

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  1. CommentedWaleed Addas

    How about, "Walking The Talk", for domestic affairs...

    Or "My Word is My Bond", for military affairs...

    "Upholding The Truth"--for foreign relations...

    as a metaphor?!

  2. CommentedStefan S

    Having a good metaphor would require having a real vision. Since 9/11, America has been suffering a failure of imagination. Since 2008, capitalism and democracy have been failing because of a lack of accountability. How about "Real Accountability"?

  3. CommentedCarol Maczinsky

    That is the propaganda layer, the US debt development is alarming, that is fundamental and leads to crisis.

  4. CommentedVenu Madhav

    Gosh this is a simple conundrum. I got two to choose from
    i. "Renewed Deal", or ii. " Rise like Phoenix" as the metaphor.

  5. CommentedJesse Durbin

    Forward is a good metaphor. Because "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward." --Franklin D. Roosevelt
    FDR introduced his new deal metaphor here:
    "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people. Let us all here assembled constitute ourselves prophets of a new order of competence and of courage. This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people. " http://newdeal.feri.org/speeches/1932b.htm

    This is Obama's Forward metaphor ...his kickoff speech...his plan. edited:
    OBAMA: "We have come too far to abandon the change we fought for these past few years. We have to move forward, to the future we imagined in 2008, where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. That’s the choice in this election, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.

    "Governor Romney is a patriotic American who has raised a wonderful family, and he has much to be proud of. He’s run a large financial firm, and he’s run a state. But I think he has drawn the wrong lessons from those experiences. He sincerely believes that if CEOs and wealthy investors like him make money, the rest of us will automatically prosper as well."

    AUDIENCE: "Booo."

    OBAMA: "When a woman in Iowa shared the story of her financial struggles, he responded with economic theory. He told her, “our productivity equals our income.” Well, let me tell you something. The problem with our economy isn’t that the American people aren’t productive enough -- you’ve been working harder than ever. The challenge we face right now -- the challenge we faced for over a decade is that harder work hasn’t led to higher incomes. It’s that bigger profits haven’t led to better jobs.

    "Governor Romney doesn’t seem to get that. He doesn’t seem to understand that maximizing profits by whatever means necessary -- whether through layoffs or outsourcing or tax avoidance or union-busting -- might not always be good for the average American or for the American economy.

    "Why else would he want to spend trillions more on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Why else would he propose cutting his own taxes while raising them on 18 million working families? Why else would he want to slash the investments that have always helped the economy grow, but at the same time, stop regulating the reckless behavior on Wall Street that helped the economy crash?

    "Somehow, he and his friends in Congress think that the same bad ideas will lead to a different result. Or they’re just hoping you won’t remember what happened the last time we tried it their way.

    "Well, Ohio, I’m here to say that we were there, we remember, and we are not going back. We are moving this country forward.

    "Look, we want businesses to succeed. We want entrepreneurs and investors rewarded when they take risks, when they create jobs and grow our economy. But the true measure of our prosperity is more than just a running tally of every balance sheet and quarterly profit report. I don’t care how many ways you try to explain it: Corporations aren’t people. People are people.

    "We measure prosperity not just by our total GDP; not just by how many billionaires we produce, but how well the typical family is doing -- whether they can go as far as their dreams and hard work will take them.

    "And we understand that in this country, people succeed when they have a chance to get a decent education and learn new skills -- and, by the way, so do the businesses that hire them or the companies that they start.

    "We know that our economy grows when we support research into medical breakthroughs and new technologies that lead to the next Internet app or life-saving drug.

    "We know that our country is stronger when we can count on affordable health insurance and Medicare and Social Security. When we protect our kids from toxic dumping and mercury pollution. When there are rules to make sure we aren’t taken advantage of by credit card companies and mortgage lenders and financial institutions. And we know these rules aren’t just good for seniors, or kids, or consumers -- they're good for business, too. They're part of what makes the market work.

    "Look, we don’t expect government to solve all our problems, and it shouldn’t try. I learned from my mom that no education policy can take the place of a parent’s love and affection. As a young man, I worked with a group of Catholic churches who taught me that no poverty program can make as much of a difference as the kindness and commitment of a caring soul. Not every regulation is smart. Not every tax dollar is spent wisely. Not every person can be helped who refuses to help themselves.

    "But that’s not an excuse to tell the vast majority of responsible, hardworking Americans, 'You’re on your own.' That unless you’re lucky enough to have parents who can lend you money, you may not be able to go to college. That even if you pay your premiums every month, you’re out of luck if an insurance company decides to drop your coverage when you need it most.

    "That’s not how we built America. That’s not who we are. We built this country together. We built this country together.

    "We built railroads and highways; the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge -- together. We sent my grandfather’s generation to college on the GI Bill -- together. We instituted a minimum wage and worker safety laws -- together. Together, we touched the surface of the moon, unlocked the mystery of the atom, connected the world through our own science and imagination. We did these things together -- not because they benefited any particular individual or group, but because they made us all richer. Because they gave us all opportunity. Because they moved us forward together -- as one people, as one nation.

    "That’s the true lesson of our past, Ohio. That’s the right vision for our future. And that’s why I’m running for President.

    "I’m running to make sure that by the end of the decade, more of our citizens hold a college degree than any other nation on Earth. I want to help our schools hire and reward the best teachers, especially in math and science. I want to give two million more Americans the chance to go to community colleges and learn the skills that local businesses are looking for right now. In the 21st century, higher education can’t be a luxury -- it is an economic imperative that every American should be able to afford. That’s the choice in this election. That’s why I’m running for President.

    "I’m running to make sure the next generation of high-tech manufacturing takes root in places like Columbus and Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Richmond. I want to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs and profits overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America. That’s the choice in this election.

    "I’m running so that we can keep moving towards a future where we control our own energy. Our dependence on foreign oil is at its lowest point in 16 years. By the middle of the next decade, our cars will average nearly 55 miles per gallon. Thousands of Americans have jobs, right now, because the production of renewal energy in this country has nearly doubled in just three years.

    "So now is not the time to cut these investments to pay for another $4 billion giveaway to the oil companies. Now is the time to end the subsidies for an industry that’s rarely been more profitable. Let’s double down on a clean energy future that’s never been more promising -- for our economy, and for our security, and for the safety of our planet. That’s why I’m running for President. That’s the choice in this election, Ohio."
    http://articles.latimes.com/print/2012/may/05/news/la-pn-transcript-obama-campaign-kickoff-20120505

  6. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    It is pleasantly surprising to see that the search for metaphors have taken us to India, where"inclusive growth" was made popular by the India Development Policy Review 2006 titled "Inclusive Growth and Service Delivery: Building on India's Success". This report focuses on two major challenges facing India: improving the delivery of core public services, and maintaining rapid growth while spreading the benefits of this growth more widely. Before 2006, 'inclusive growth' as a chosen metaphor never existed.

    If one goes for the success of this metaphor in India, jury is still out.

    Procyon Mukherjee

  7. CommentedAllan Hauer

    True wisdom can be expressed in simple but powerful ways. We’re really talking about the power of the American dream-truly inclusive democracy. Such a picture has to be built on the strong foundation of an educated, healthy society. This is where the spark of free enterprise ignites and blends the individual and community, the singular genius with collective inspiration.

  8. CommentedG. A. Pakela

    The President has no vision other than the reverse of "starving the beast." In the reverse case, the runnup in debt and interest on the debt makes it impossible to finance defense spending.

    Inclusive society will eventually mean more of us will be included in the invevitable tax increases that must take place to fund existing and new entitlements.

      CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

      Hi G.A. Pakela,

      Even at the recently lowered U.S. defense spending levels, the U.S.A. military budget is larger than the next 12 nations combined military spending.

      Not only that, it is the best equipped (already) best trained (already) and most experienced military on the planet, by significant margins.

      And, nobody wants to fight America.

      First, they would lose!
      Second, other nations would prevent it, as they have too much to lose by any harm coming to the U.S. economy.
      Third, any nation daring to attack the U.S. would, by its own actions, incur grievous economic and military harm.

      The idea that any country would attack the U.S. is preposterous, now that the Cold War is over.

      So, why would the U.S. need a $1.5 trillion (or whatever) defense budget?

      Best regards, JBS

  9. CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

    Hi Robert,

    President Obama did bring about change in his first term. The President laid out his positions on energy, energy security and sustainable energy some time ago.

    In fact, he wrote me a letter back in March 2012 outlining these very topics. It is a profound document and it is available to read on my website at: http://johnbrianshannon.com

    At the time, these seemed like grand, but somewhat unreachable goals. But not now, less than a year later. For an overview of this, visit: http://arabiangazette.com/biggest-energy-story-2012/

    Check out what the IEA is saying about President Obama's startlingly successful energy, energy security and sustainable energy policies here:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/12/us-iea-oil-report-idUSBRE8AB0IQ20121112

    "(Reuters) - The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top oil producer by 2017, the West's energy agency said on Monday, predicting Washington will come very close to achieving a previously unthinkable energy self-sufficiency." (article continues)

    President Obama promised change in America's energy future -- and he delivered unprecedented change!

    Which gives me hope.

    Hope that this President can overcome the economic malaise that has embraced the West and the U.S.A., with a bit of cooperation from U.S. politicians and allies of America.

    Your article Robert, if I may say so, asks the most important question of all, what should that change be and what should it be named?

    Many Americans and America's well-wishers around the globe are unhappy with the inequality in the U.S.

    Initially the U.S. became great on account of the opportunities to citizens (first) and immigrants (second) and its trading partners around the world. This is what built America. The hopes and aspirations of several generations who saw the opportunities America offered to those who worked smart and hard and invested well.

    For those who can be honest about it, those opportunities have dissipated to an alarming degree in the U.S.A. in recent decades.

    Rarely can one finish their education, begin a career at one level and years later, finish their career as a CEO or owner of a large and prosperous business. People have little upward mobility and for those born into poverty situations, the vast majority of them live in poverty until they pass out of this world -- no matter how great their work ethic!

    This has been well-documented elsewhere, so I won't go on about it at length here.

    But if anything is going to help restore citizens faith in the American dream, and restore the faith of America's well-wishers around the world, it is a better-educated society.

    One of the best ways to improve peoples economic standing, (according the the UN and other organizations expert in governance and human development) are by society-wide improvements to health and education.

    It needn't cost a trillion dollars -- but it does need direction.

    The same sort of direction that President Obama used to take America from a nation addicted to foreign oil, and turn it into an energy net exporter, and almost energy self-sufficient nation and a nation on the forefront of sustainable energy worldwide. All accomplished during a time of unprecedented worldwide economic upheaval. Well done, Mr. President!

    So, where are we now?

    An energy-secure America. Done. Check.
    A uniformly healthy America. In progress.
    A uniformly college-educated America? Let's hope.

    If this President's first term accomplishments are remembered as making America energy secure and a well-begun universal health-care plan -- then let us hope that his second term will be remembered by a "Done. Check." on a uniformly healthy American society and a well-begun college education plan for American citizens, so that they too, can become part of America's economic solution and success.

    Best regards, JBS
    http://jbsnews.com





      CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

      NOTE:

      I re-wrote my original comment, added to it, and posted it at my blog.

      You can read it at: http://jbsnews.com/2013/01/10/president-obama-restoring-the-dream/

      Cheers, JBS

  10. Commentedjim bridgeman

    This assumes that there has in fact been a driving spirit beyond winning elections. There is no evidence of that. In fact the predominance of dead metaphor (aka sloganeering) is evidence that the entire motivation has been attaining and maintaining power rather than what would be done with the power. Indeed, Affordable Care is best read as the single legislative achievement most likely to cement the left element to the electoral coalition.

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