How to think like Obama by Daniel Smith – Review

Book: How To Think Like Obama
Author: Daniel Smith
Publisher: Michael O’Mara
Pages: 224; Price: Rs 299

How To Think Like Obama decodes the ‘philosophies and ideas’ that guided and influenced Barack Obama and the ‘circumstances and events’ that helped shape him as an individual and as the President of the USA. The author, Daniel Smith reveals and analyses Obama’s worldview and what it takes to ‘think’ like him.

In spite of a youth marked by repeated disruptions and lack of a relationship with his father, Obama managed to sustain his sense of balance and identity. Obama’s close relationship with his mother helped him acquire a liberal and humane approach, particularly openness for people of other cultures. The tremendous affection and a deep sense of hope from his maternal grandparents became a key feature of his political life; he believed that anything is possible and had a profound degree of optimism. His Afro-American heritage encouraged him to closely co-operate with and experience people of other nationalities.

Obama’s determination and belief to not be defined by the colour of his skin saw him carve his own identity and obtain a purpose and maturity as he progressed in life. His wife, Michelle’s unconditional patience and ‘authenticity’ played a vital role in defining him. In Obama’s own words, his ‘most challenging, most fulfilling, most important job’ has been one of being a father to his daughters. This, in the light of absence of a father figure and the ensuing struggle to define himself, made him reflect on the significance of the paternal role.

The urge to introduce change came naturally to Obama as also envisioning a socio-economic framework to address issues that plague the bottom of the pyramid; he inherited the quality of service and empathy from his mother as also from the stalwarts of the civil rights movement who changed the world with ‘courage and clear purpose’. In keeping with his philosophy that everyone has the basic right to a respectable life, he introduced ‘Obamacare’, the ideation of affordable healthcare.

His liberal political temperament and ability to see the big picture manifested itself in the issues he sought to resolve, such as climate change, foreign policy, regulation of the financial sector, and terrorism. In this context, it is important to mention the US subprime mortgage crisis of 2007 wherein Obama cleared an economic stimulus package along with financial sector regulatory reforms.

Environment is the other area in which Obama initiated improvements, such as blocking activities which threaten the natural landscape, championing for renewable energy, and his role in the Paris Agreement 2015. In the realm of international relations, initiatives such as withdrawal of forces from Syria and Afghanistan and the relentless quest for international peace and cooperation deserve mention; the latter also earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

Despite a presidency marked by both failures and successes, Obama is one of the most admired statesmen. Strongly connect-ed and receptive of the entire ecosystem and a citizen of the world who believes that hope and faith are the first building blocks of a great society and to solving problems, both big and small. Ensuring change for Obama essentially permeated into equality for all.

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