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I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism [Kindle Edition]

Charles R. Kesler
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Is Barack Obama the last liberal president? In I Am the Change, Charles Kesler, a leading conservative scholar, educator, and journalist, offers a sophisticated analysis of the president’s political thought, based on Obama’s own words and writings, to demonstrate that he represents either a new birth of liberalism…or its demise. Kesler’s writing is a potent mixture of philosophy, journalism, psychology, and history—seasoned with a delightful, razor-sharp wit—as he takes a greatly underestimated chief executive seriously and explores American liberalism in crisis.

Editorial Reviews


“Politically timely and of permanent importance to the study of the American mind. A serious but accessible study of the thinking underpinning the modern liberal project…This is a title - and an author - with a long shelf life and much to teach.” (Washington Times)

“Drawing on his wide reading in philosophy and American political thought, Mr. Kesler argues that Mr. Obama has been shaped by the political tradition of Progressivism and that his 2008 triumph has helped, in turn, to reshape it.” (Wall Street Journal)

“Obama has earned what he now receives, the tribute of a serious intellectual exegesis by a distinguished political philosopher.” (George Will, Washington Post)

“Kesler is the reader for whom Obama has long been asking, in the sense of ‘asking for it’, and this book is the examination of the One we’ve been waiting for.” (Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review)

From the Back Cover

Who is Barack Obama? Even after his reelection, many Americans wonder what he really believes. Charles R. Kesler argues that both liberals and conservatives underestimate the scope of Obama's political ambition and the long-term stakes for which he is playing.

I Am the Change tries to understand Obama as he understands himself, based largely on his own writings, speeches, and interviews. Kesler, a leading conservative scholar, educator, and journalist, takes Obama seriously as an intelligent and thoughtful progressive who is intent on reinvigorating the liberal faith and leading it to a new political preeminence—but who fails to understand the contradictions and crises, both fiscal and philosophical, toward which he is rushing.

Will Obama save liberalism and become its fourth great incarnation, following Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson? Or will the movement be derailed by his very successes? These are the questions at the heart of Kesler's indispensable guide to the past, and the future, of American liberalism.

Product Details

  • File Size: 484 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadside e-books; Reprint edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,062 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 76 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Author Charles R. Kesler takes a very intellectual, sometimes caustic philosophical look at Barack Obama and the liberals in his book "I Am The Change". That title belies the fact that, despite the author's early statement, it is also a trenchant treatise on the history of Liberalism, tracing it back to the end of the 19th Century and then tracking Liberalism as it advances forward in 'waves' towards its current status under the likes of Barack Obama, the Clintons, Reid, Pelosi, et al. He begins with the "Audaciity of Barack Obama" examining the background, early influences, political motivations, successes and failures, current goals, and future political probabilities of Barack Obama and his philosophy. Dr. Kesler draws interesting parallels between Obama and Martin Luther King, and gives a highly effective dichotomy between the Grant Park of the raucous, riotous anti-war crowd outside of the August 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention and the "well-mannered pandemonium" of the crowd in Grant Park at the Obama victory speech on Election Day, four decades later. But then he gives us riveting chapters on the eras of Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Movement (he even backs into the 19th Century for an excellent look at the genesis of the Populist Movement), Franklin Roosevelt's weighty New Deal influence, and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society era. Along the way we also meet the influence of Rousseau, Hegel, Darwin, and others. Although sometimes falling prey to the litany of Republican 'talking-points', it is when the author breaks free that the analysis becomes historically enlightening, very thought-provoking, and truly challenging to the progressive way of thinking. Liberals and conservatives alike may find this book informative and stimulating from a more conservative point of view, if only from the standpoint of apologetics for liberals. Very Definitely Recommended. Four THOUGHT-PROVOKING Stars! (304 pages, reviewed in Kindle text-to-speech and text)
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Liberal Crisis October 24, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Kesler's I Am The Change is a scholarly, sophisticated, readable book about the most important phenomenon in recent American history. I won't say it's an easy read. The dominant figures--Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Obama--do not identify themselves with a particular author or ideology such as Marx and socialism but Kesler leaves no doubt as to what they believe. The "living" constitution is a negation of the Constitution created in 1787. Kesler quotes liberally from all four. What Obama believes contrasted with what he has said during the present campaign is plain to see. Kesler shows in detail Obama's habit of leaving key words out of what sound like patriotic speeches. I have read at least ten books relevant to the current political situation and this is the best.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism October 6, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Book provides insight to the beginnings and evolution of liberalism and progressivism dating from the early twentieth century. It further provides insight into some of the inconsistancies and ultimate failures of those beliefs as well as how Barack Obama relates to them. The style in which the Book is written makes it hard to read without frequent rests.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Summary of Progressive Philosophy September 4, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney described his opponent as, "A nice guy who's in over his head." As it turns out, the description was more accurately that of Romney himself. Barak Obama as most definitely not a nice guy, and he's definitely in control of his main agenda as president.

But how can we say that, since virtually everything Barak Obama has touched since he was inaugurated in 2009 has come up short, usually disastrously so? The answer, as this valuable book shows, is that Obama isn't interested in tackling immediate problems such as employment or immigration reform. Instead, by his own admission, he's using his presidency fundamentally to change the essence of America. This process began more than a century ago, and Obama is the fourth president (following Wilson, FDR, and Johnson) to move this "progressive" project forward. Professor Kesler, using each man's own words--written and spoken--as source material, explains in detail where their ideas came from and the damage those ideas have done for generations of Americans.

Philosophical note: Another title for the book might well have been, "How Bad Ideas Harm Us All."

A partial list of the bad ideas:

People are essentially good, not fallen.
History exists as an actual force in the world.
Progress is always for the better.
Each era creates its own truth.
Government by experts makes things better.
There are no natural rights, just human rights.

How Progressivism/Liberalism Has Unfolded Under Four US Presidents:

Each starts with a crisis; Promotes government expansion; Is thwarted by a war (Except Obama)

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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Progressivism/Liberalism: An Empty Suit October 11, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Professor Kesler's intransigent and unsparing analysis of the political thought (and in this instance the word has to be used quite loosely) of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ and BHO shows that at its best, that is, in Wilson's writings, the ideology of Progressivism/Liberalism occupies an artificial pit beneath the floor of Plato's natural cave; that Wilson's three presidential minions have continued his original excavations; and that BHO's vacuous ruminations must be located in an artificial pit between LBJ's artificial pit, beneath FDR's artificial pit beneath Wilson's artificial pit. In short, Kesler shows that when set against the political wisdom of Lincoln and the Founders, progressive/liberal opinion must be understood as a downward and ever-accelerating spiral of intellectual, moral and political bankruptcy; so much so that today it has nothing to offer but the vacuous promise of "hope and change." Like any other institution whose resources have evaporated our reigning academic/media/political establishment must be forced into bankruptcy, and this book takes a much-needed step in that direction. My compliments to the author.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The importance of ideas
Kesler finds the intellectual headwaters of modern liberalism in Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives. He shows how the modern administrative state flowed downstream. Read more
Published 5 months ago by T Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
I can't figure out how I missed this book when it appeared. Now that I've read it, I think it's great!
Published 5 months ago by Stephen E. Bennett
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your usual Obama-bashing rant.
There are a lot of books out there that simply "preach to the choir" when it comes to bashing Obama. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Just an old fart
2.0 out of 5 stars WIsh I had not bought the book and do not expect to finish it. Will...
Book is too difficult to read and hold my interest I have not finished it and doubt I will. Dust catcher now
Published 7 months ago by Dave Clark
This book implied that liberalism is in crisis and for my point of view is not. What undermined liberalism is in its definition. Read more
Published 10 months ago by IVYSTARR
5.0 out of 5 stars Progressives Explained
The book is wonderful. It explains the thinking of Progressives and explains why they are think differently from a conservative. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Bobw
3.0 out of 5 stars Coffee spill.
The book was in ok condition but not as good as others I have received with its high rating. Coffee had been spilt on pages in the middle. Mailing was prompt. Read more
Published 11 months ago by rwwhite
5.0 out of 5 stars Provides subtle insights into Obama's mind.
While this is written from the conservative point of view, it is far from a polemic. Liberals and conservatives alike may be underestimating the complexity of Obama's vision for... Read more
Published 15 months ago by fairandbalanced
5.0 out of 5 stars Important reading
The things I never learned in high school or college about the history of our politics is in this book. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Kevin Holbert
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Anyone interested in Obama's intellectual heritage, it's origins and growth and fulfillment in his presidency could hardly do better than this title. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Baxter
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More About the Author

Charles Kesler is Distinguished Professor of Government at Claremont-McKenna College and editor of the Claremont Review of Books.

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