Yes, some day, there will be another black president in the US; and this will be the second black president, Bill Clinton being the first. It is neither about skin color or pulpit-like stuttered speeches nor about swaggering down the stairs of Air Force One. It’s about caring, and designing a politics that carries out a development vision that creates equal opportunity. Clinton was a president that really took black issues at heart inasmuch as he integrated the expansion of black living areas in the general domestic policy of the United States. Clinton’s Southern working-class roots, coupled with his genuine concern for human suffering made him really “get it.” He understood, without any apology, that the best way to help Blacks in America was to help them without frustrating Whites; for the fear of frustrating the white majority can make any president freeze. How did Clinton help Blacks without frustrating Whites? He did it by governing from the middle, as a centrist. The results spoke for themselves: black unemployment dropped drastically; black home ownership and black business ownership surged; black access to education and job pitched; the American administration became relatively more representative of the American demographics with the appointment of Blacks in so many areas of the administration.
Clinton had style. Let’s call it the Clinton Style, the style of the man-cat. His style was that of a man who could easily enter relationships of friendship and/or enmity with his alterities (remember Arsenio Hall? But remember Sister Soldier, too?). Clinton was the philosopher/politician who was not afraid of saying “perhaps”; perhaps tradition should be put on its head; perhaps politics ought to be done with the “calculation of this conceptual purification one can wage war on one’s friend, a war in the proper sense of the term, a proper, clear and merciless war. But a war without hatred.” Clinton, the philosopher/politicians did establish connections in a way that bewildered his friends (or those who could still dare to take pride in such appellation) as well as his foes— are there any foes? Has not, in reply to the dying sage who advised us that “friends, there are no friends,” the living fool uttered for us these profound words that “foes, there are no foes”? Clinton’s style, as his own persona, was disconcerting. It was anti–Oedipal, antigenealogical. It evaded all ideological footprints known of political engineers and proposed a new covenant, a supple and living contract to be tuned up along the way, as often as necessary. It was unheard of. Was not the sempiternal dualism of American politics meant to remain accentuated in the name of ideological loyalty and party affiliation? Against the logic of appurtenance, came Clinton, the man-cat, a maverick politician, of whose technique a foe/friend (a faux-friend), Dick Morris, once said: “He tacks. He doesn’t sail with the wind. He tacks. So if the wind is blowing in one direction, he aims just a little to the left of his destination. When the wind switches, he aims just a little to the right. But always going toward his objectives, not just sailing with the wind.”
I would not suggest that the kind of the political-social management that the world witnessed under the leadership of the man-cat was the best ever. Nevertheless, it is just human to be amazed by the results it yielded. So much effort spent at alleviating the suffering of the world and bringing human communities together could not leave one unmoved. The man-cat seemed to derive some positive intoxication in being interpellated by the other’s anguish; he seemed to be possessed by a drive to always make somebody’s day, to lend a helping hand across seas and deserts. His style was certainly not the best management technique. It was, nonetheless, management at a high degree of production and distribution of welfare.
There is a degree to which, human beings, having finally come to terms with their finitude, wish to do something positive before passing. Some people may find this jumpstart early, others late, and yet a lot of people may never find it at all. It is not a jumpstart that lies necessarily in religion or philosophy. The cat-man made true these Rortyian words that one needs not be religious or philosophic to have a conscience and that “the fact that one … gets [one’s] premises in church and the other in the library is, and should be of not interest to … audience in the public square.” So, this “happy Jeffersonian compromise” the cat-man made his, sending religion back to where it should belong, to the private sphere rather than the public one, all without trivializing religious conviction, but just advising that one not ask us to reveal our most intimate, most private, moments, and one shall not be offended by our responses on the grounds of one’s religious moral beliefs. Is it not opportune that political projects have no other important tests to pass but the ability to rally people with radically opposing views on the meaning of human life and the way to individual excellence? The man-cat has passed this test beyond all expectations, and in a daring way, “by getting citizens to rely less on tradition and to be more willing to experiment with new customs and institutions,” to organize anew, to build new communities of interest, communities of isolation built on no sacred contract, but resolute to dissolve in order to connect imaginatively, holistically, and polyformously to other communities again, before they fossilize.
When Clinton, the man-cat, the philosopher-politician, left the White House, Clinton left the black community with a great sense of bereavement, which in 2008, they tried to conjure up by voting on colorism. A black man was running for election and they thought that he could be a black president. To day, the issues that matter to Blacks in the United States (access to education, jobs, access to capitals, decreasing incomes, commoditization in the incarceration industry) are yet to be addressed. For fear of bruising the white majority, Obama has frozen.