Global Issues, US Politics

Samantha Power

I am disappointed that Power has stepped down from the Obama campaign. She was more than a mere Obama policy adviser, she was his liberal internationalist Condi. She is also someone for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect, not to mention a fair dose of envy. It was her early engagement with Obama following his Senate win that first made me think that he might be something different. Her subsequent involvement with the presidential campaign further solidified my support.

I perhaps admire her most for her willingness to jump into the political world from her safe and successful academic career. She clearly did it because she felt passionately for his candidacy, an emotional engagement that is too often lost in the ivory tower. I think it is safe to say that she found this position somewhat awkward. You simply cannot speak in the same way as a partisan that you can as a scholar. It is a different public positionally.

The following interview on BBC’s Hardtalk only confirms this. You can tell that she is uncomfortable in the partisan role, but shows admirably how an academic can engage in politics in a meaningful way. This is precisely the type of political discourse I think we need more of.

It is also no coincidence that she has had a similar career to Michael Ignatieff (someone for whom I also have a great deal of respect), who has likewise attempted to bridge the academic-political divide. It is not a comfortable place to be, but I respect those of all political stripes who try with integrity. I hope her experience does not dissuade others from taking the leap.

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