The Obama presidency is special for many reasons, some more obvious than others. Perhaps the most obvious one is the racial content, Barack Obama being the first black US to be elected in a country that has struggle so much with a profond racial divide.The academic journal Political Psychology has a new issue on “The Obama Presidency”. Professor David Redlawsk, co-editor of the journal says that this special issue attempts to do “at least two things—to understand some of the dynamics of race and Obama’s election in 2008, and to provide insight into his personality and governing style since the election”. And i think they really nail it. For example, Brian Schaffner, my very amigable professor from the Essex Summer School (where I meet my girlfriend) has a very interesting article on how Obama lost about 3 percentage points of the White vote due to his race alone thus suggesting that such a thing as a post-racial era in American politics is not quite here yet.
Name a Name.
Another interesting paper in this issue comes from Nicolas Dragojlovic’s article on the effects that priming people with Obama’s name had on Canadian attitudes toward the United States significantly improving the support for the United States among the Canadian sample, particularly among those who where informed but not overly involved with American politics.
On a different approach -a psychoanalytical one to be precise- Stanley Renshon’s paper asks “Who is Barack Obama, really?” suggesting that even well into his term of office his true nature is still subject to intensive debate. He argues that Obama operates in a personal account, “Obama’s leadership and ambition operate in the service of redemption” from his father, his mother, and the ideals that America has yet to deliver.
Using the sometimes-controversial technique of “an at-a-distance personality profile” David Winter discusses Obama’s personality structure, speeches, weekly radio addresses and the audience to whom Obama addresses thus finding reasons to suspect that we might be witnessing a one-term president.
Although I miss some discussion on party identification as well as a paper discussing the implications of a generalised environment of fear (unemployment, wars, economic crisis, etc), I find this special issue of Political Psychology an interesting one and I forecast it will receive a lot of media attention, particularly given the time in which it came out just months before the 2012 election.
Here is a video summarising the whole issue.
Feel free to comment, correct me and suggest new topics to discuss.