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Santiago Álvarez de Mon, Professor, IESE, University of Navarra

Obama-1 Establishment-0

Wed, 24 Mar 2010 11:24:31 +0000 Published in Expansion (Madrid)

The dictionary defines paradox as "a figure of thought that consists of using expressions or phrases that involve contradiction".

Example, "look at the miser, in his riches, poor". Charles Handy says in this regard: "Paradoxes are like the weather, something we have to live with, not something we have to solve; we have to accept the paradox, bear it, make sense of it, in life, on work, in community and among nations. Living with paradox is neither comfortable nor easy. It can be like walking through a dark forest on a moonless night. One loses all sense of direction.

However, when dawn comes, the way ahead is clear, the noises are now birdsong and the rustle of the undergrowth is only the rabbits running away. It is a different place. To the most rigid and dogmatic minds, the paradox is an insurmountable pill to swallow. In their closed-mindedness and insecurity every vestige of doubt and uncertainty overwhelms and disarms them. Curiously, these strengths, taken to the extreme, become weaknesses. I think of the innumerable paradoxes of life in the wake of Obama's healthcare reform. One of the main hallmarks of the United States is the primacy of the individual over the state. The freedom of the individual is a core value of the American dream. This long-standing cultural tradition explains the skepticism towards government.

Washington equals control and bureaucracy, which does not prevent some smart alecs from being the first to apply for state aid. The recent financial crisis offers lacerating examples. Returning to my argument, what was originally a quality, autonomy and responsibility staff, in its most radical version can become a defect. In Europe, the opposite could happen. A social system of protections and guarantees, if mismanaged, can deteriorate into a differential deficiency. Men and women accustomed to free health care abuse a right that requires civic, mature and responsible mentalities. Otherwise, the cost of public services skyrockets alarmingly.

As a happy and grateful European, I joyfully celebrate Obama's courage. Already this past summer I was impressed by the attitude and virulence of some newspapers and TV channels. In its lighter interpretation, Obama is a bureaucrat suspicious of private initiative. In its worst translation, Obama is a socialist who aspires to infringe on the freedom of the American people.

As always, in the absence of arguments, and in defense of inexplicable economic interests, fear is stirred up. Overcoming sad atavisms, and demanding a serious and austere management , I ask: How can it be explained that the first power in the world does not offer health coverage to millions of citizens? How can it be understood that a family of class average has to sell its house due to the illness of one of its members? Are lack of solidarity and injustice compatible with the essence of the Christian message? Market, freedom, private property, or an inhospitable jungle for the most needy? A society that does not care for all, what judgment does it deserve? An easy boiler for violence? A return to the Wild West?

In this polarized and aggressive context, I am grateful for Obama's gamble. Can invoice happen to him in the next elections? Yes, of course, a noble leadership stretches the temporal, intellectual and moral horizon of the government. So convinced am I that to lead is to manage resistance, that I am suspicious of those who find none. The selfish side of the American soul grumbles and squeaks, and the job of a statesman is to work his liver until he understands that the person in his mystery, and the community as a whole, are a little better when they make room for the poor and disinherited of the earth.

I take this opportunity to apply for here the same. We have a few structural reforms pending. The Constitution is a rule, not a dogma!... and the most important of all, the Education, on the back of effort, the discipline, talent, perseverance and passion for learning, eternal keys of the University. Where is our Obama, who shakes us and awakens our conscience? Reforms-resistance-persuasion, the triad of a leader to whom I give my trust.