The Audacity of Hope


Revision as of 20:16, 21 January 2007 by (Talk)

The Audacity of Hope
Author Barack Obama
Country United States
Language English
Subject(s) Political convictions
Publisher Crown
Released October 17, 2006
Media Type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 288
ISBN ISBN 0307237699
Preceded by Dreams from My Father

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Executive Summary

The junior U.S. Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, was propelled to national prominence at the 2004 Democratic Convention when he delivered a rousing keynote address entitled “The Audacity of Hope.” In the less than 20 minutes it took to deliver the speech, Obama was catapulted to sudden fame, with many analysts predicting that he may be well-positioned to enter a future presidential race. In 2006, Obama released The Audacity of Hope, a book-length account that expands upon many of the same themes he originally addressed in the convention speech that bore the same title.

The Audacity of Hope is an unusual blend of autobiography and policy analysis that veers far from the boilerplate, often ghostwritten biographies that many politicians release in the years leading up to a major campaign. In it, Obama recounts his unique childhood and the insight that his racially mixed heritage and the experience of living in a number of exotic locales instilled in him. He also discusses in great detail virtually every major political issue facing the American electorate today, offering his opinion and possible strategies for reform.

On issues ranging from abortion to defense, Obama’s stance is one that attempts to find a middle ground between reactionary conservatism and myopic, overly idealistic liberalism. Hearkening back to a period when Congress was characterized by collegiality and mutual respect, Obama calls for more real compromise and cooperation between Democrats and Republicans. His overarching message is that America has the inherent potential to offer hope to anyone, regardless of their background or experiences; however, in order to ensure that opportunities exist for all in a secure, functional, and sustainable national environment, a number of key policy changes are necessary.

Chapter 2: Values

  51    40 percent Democrat, and vice versa: For example, in 2004, 61 percent of Texans voted for President Bush, and 38 percent for Senator Kerry; Kansas went 62 percent for Bush and 37 percent for Kerry; Massachusetts went 62 percent for Kerry and 37 percent for Bush; and New York went 59 percent for Kerry and 40 percent for Bush. "Election Results," CNN, November 4, 2004. Available at 52 ranked "moral values" as having determined: Christopher Muste, "Hidden in Plain Sight; Polling Data Shows Moral Values Aren't a New Factor," The Washington Post, December 12, 2004. 52 meaning of the term was so vague: Christopher Muste, "Hidden in Plain Sight; Polling Data Shows Moral Values Aren't a New Factor," The Washington Post, December 12, 2004. 60 sex on television has doubled in recent years: "Number of Sexual Scenes on TV Nearly Double Since 1998," Kaiser Family Foundation Press Release, November 9, 2005. Available at 62 average CEO made forty-two times: "Executive Excess," AFL-CIO, July 17, 2006. Available at numbers-reveal-jaw-dropping-retirement-packages 62 ratio was 262 to 1: Lawrence Mishel, "CEO-to-Worker Pay Imbalance Grows," Economic Policy Institute, June 21, 2006. Available at 62 "raising kids with the right values": "Faith, Values, and the Common Good," Center for American Progress, June 5, 2006. Available at Back to Top Chapter 3: Our Constitution 93 Jefferson's advice to engage in a revolution: Jefferson wrote, "God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion..." "Jefferson Letter to William S. Smith, 1787," University of Virginia Electronic Text Center. Available at Back to Top Chapter 4: Politics 103 reelection rate for House members: Larry J. Sabato, "Congressional Competition: Gone with the Wind," Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball, March 16, 2006. Available at 103 hating Congress but liking their congressman: Stephanie Larson, "Reporting on Congress: The Role of the Media," CongressLink. Available at 109 most members are already rich: Heidi Collins and Kathleen Koch, "Frist Tops List of Wealthiest on Capitol Hill," CNN, June 13, 2003. Available at 129 John F. Kennedy wrote fifty years ago:John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1956). Excerpts available at +Courage+Award/Essay+Contest/Information+for+Teachers/Curriculum+I deas+for+the+Classroom/Appendix+2+-+Excerpts+from+Chapter+One+of+P rofiles+in+Courage.htm Back to Top Chapter 5: Opportunity 147 "government is the problem": Ronald Reagan, "First Inaugural Address," Reagan Presidential Library. Available at 148 remains larger than China's and India's combined: U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) was $12.406 trillion in 2005, while China's was $8.572 trillion and India's was $3.815 trillion. "Purchasing Power Parity Data," World Bank, 2005. Available at 149 "the chief business of the American people is business": Calvin Coolidge, "The Press Under a Free Government: Address before the American Society of Newspaper Editors," January 17, 1925. Available at the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, 154 would lift almost half of all senior citizens out of poverty: Over time, Social Security has reduced the number of seniors in poverty from 50 percent at the signing of the Social Security Act to 11 percent in 1999. "Understanding the Social Security Debate," Federal Reserve Board of San Francisco, June 25, 1999. Available at 155 "People who are hungry": Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "State of the Union Message to Congress," January 11, 1944. Available at the FDR Presidential Library, 159 Lincoln's simple maxim: Abraham Lincoln, "Fragment on Government," in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 2, ed. Roy P. Basler (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990), 220-21. Available at the Library of Congress, /0049400/malpage.db&recNum=1&tempFile=./temp/~ammem_rSrY&filecode= mal&next_filecode=mal&itemnum=1&ndocs=100 160 Half of all teenagers can't understand basic fractions: Tom Loveless, "Trends in Math: The Importance of Basic Skills," The Brookings Review, 21, 41-43. Available at 160 only 22 percent are prepared to take: ACT reports that only 22 percent of graduating high school seniors in 2004 were ready for college-level classes in English, math and science, 162 two million teachers must be recruited: National Education Association, 163 eight of the nine fastest-growing occupations: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 167 15 percent of the most recent federal highway bill: The 2005 Federal highway bill totaled $286.4 billion. Federal Transit Administration, "SAFETEA-LU Implementation." Available at 168 $800 million we spend on foreign oil: Net U.S. oil imports are 12,353,000 barrels per day, valued at $810 million at August 2006 prices. "Oil Fact Sheet," United States Department of Energy, July 20, 2006. Available at 169 run on sugar-based ethanol: Chris Taylor, "Ethanol War Brewing," CNN, June 27, 2006. Available at 169 Toyota plans to sell: Rick Popely, "Toyota Boss: 25 percent Hybrids by 2010," Chicago Tribune, August 4, 2005. 172 roughly the same as that of New Haven: Lou Dobbs, "Free Trade At All Costs," CNN, March 4, 2005. Available at 173 China will still have more surplus labor: "No Right To Work," The Economist, September 11, 2004. 178 average family's health insurance costs: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average family's premium costs rose from $52 per month in 1988 to $226 per month in 2005, 178 savings rates have never been lower: "Savings in America: Building Opportunities for All," Goldman Sachs Institute, Spring 2006. Available at nship/gmi/docs/Savings-in-America-whitepaper.pdf 178 levels of personal debt: Lawrence Mishel Ross Eisenbrey, "What's Wrong With the Economy," Economic Policy Institute, June 12, 2006. Available at 181 minimum wage hasn't been changed in nine years: Jared Bernstein and Isaac Shapiro, "Buying Power of Minimum Wage at 51-Year Low," Economic Policy Institute, June 20, 2006. Available at 181 earn enough to rise out of poverty: "Minimum Wage Issue Guide," Economic Policy Institute, August 2006. Available at 183 Medicare and Medicaid--really are broken: "The Long-Term Outlook for Medicare and Medicaid," Congressional Budget Office, 2003. Available at 184-5 20 percent of all patients: Martin Sipkoff, "Health Plans Begin to Address Chronic Care Management," Managed Care magazine, December 2003. Available at 187 declining national debt: Office of Management and Budget Analysis, 187 increase our military budget by 74 percent: Brian Riedl, "Discretionary Spending Trends: Past, Present, and Future," Testimony Before the House Budget Committee. Available at 188 number of pork barrel projects increased: According to Citizens Against Government Waste, there were $29 billion in pork barrel projects in 2006, while in 2000 the figure was $17.7 billion. Available at 188 annual budget deficit of almost $300 billion: Office of Management and Budget Mid-Session Review, 188 debt now stands at $9 trillion: Office of Management and Budget, FY2007 Budget Historical Tables, 188 47.4 percent of which went to the top 5 percent of the income bracket: William Gale and Samara Potter, "The Bush Tax Cut One Year Later," Brookings Policy Brief, June 2002. Available at 188 went to the top 1 percent: William Gale and Samara Potter, "The Bush Tax Cut One Year Later," Brookings Policy Brief, June 2002. Available at 188 typically people making $1.6 million a year or more: David Cay Johnston, "Class in America: The Very Rich Leave the Plain Rich Behind," International Herald Tribune, June 6, 2005. 192 only the wealthiest one-half of 1 percent: Joel Friedman and Aviva Aron-Dine, "The State of the Estate Tax as of 2006," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 2, 2006. Available at 192 cost the U.S. Treasury around $1 trillion: Joel Friedman and Aviva Aron-Dine, "The State of the Estate Tax as of 2006," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 2, 2006. Available at Back to Top Chapter 6: Faith 198 95 percent of Americans believe in God: George Bishop, "Americans' Belief in God," Public Opinion Quarterly, Fall 1999. 198 more than two-thirds belong to a church: Jonathan Gruber, "Religious Market Structure, Religious Participation and Outcomes: Is Religion Good for You?" NBER Working Paper #11377, May 2005. Available at 198 call themselves committed Christians: "Religion & Public Life: A Faith-Based Partisan Divide," Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2005. Available at 198 more people believe in angels: "Poll: Creationism Trumps Evolution," CBS News, November 22, 2004, See also "FOX Poll: More Believe in Heaven Than Hell," Fox News, October 28, 2005,,2933,173838,00.html 201 between those who attend church regularly: Susan Page, "Churchgoing Closely Tied to Voting Patterns," USA Today, June 3, 2004. Available at 220 majority of Catholics practice birth control: "National Survey of Family Growth," Centers for Disease Control, 2002. Available at Back to Top Chapter 7: Race 232 Texas, California, New Mexico, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia are majority minority: "Texas Moves Closer to 'Majority-Minority' Status, Census Bureau Estimates Show," U.S. Census Bureau News, September 30, 2004. Available at 232 Twelve other states have populations that are more than a third Latino, black, and/or Asian: U.S. Census Bureau, "Estimates of the Population by Race and Hispanic or Latino Origin for the United States and States," July 1, 2005. Available at 232 Latino Americans now number forty-two million and are the fastest-growing demographic group: "Nation's Population One-Third Minority," U.S. Census Bureau News, May 10, 2006. Available at 232 and is expected to increase by more than 200 percent: "Facts for Features: Asian American Heritage Month," U.S. Census Bureau News, March 27, 2006. Available at facts_for_features_special_editions/006587.html 232 America will no longer be a majority white country: U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Interim Projections by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin," March 18, 2004. Available at 241 top fifth of the income ladder: U.S. Census Bureau, "2005 Annual Social and Economic Supplement," June 24, 2005. Available at 242 black middle class has grown fourfold in a generation: Thomas J. Durant, Jr., and Joyce S. Louden, "The Black Middle Class in America: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives," Phylon, 47, 4th quarter 1986. 242 number of Latino families considered middle class has grown by more than 70 percent: Robert R. Brischetto, "The Hispanic Middle Class Comes of Age," Hispanic Business Magazine, December 2001. Available at ine&more=/magazine 242 The average black wage is 75 percent of the average white wage; the average Latino wage is 71 percent of the average white wage: "Current Population Survey," Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2nd quarter 2006. Available at 242-3 Black median net worth is about $6,000, and Latino median net worth is about $8,000,compared to $88,000 for whites: Rakesh Kochhar, "The Wealth of Hispanic Households: 1996 to 2002," Pew Hispanic Center, October 18, 2004. Available at 243 middle-class blacks and Latinos pay more for insurance: Gregory Squires, "The Indelible Color Line," The American Prospect, January 1, 1999. Available at 243 less likely to own their own homes: Rakesh Kochhar, "The Wealth of Hispanic Households: 1996 to 2002," Pew Hispanic Center, October 18, 2004. Available at 243 suffer poorer health than Americans as a whole: Institute of Medicine, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2003). 243 away from predominantly white neighborhoods: Kenneth R. Harney, "Report Brings An Ugly Practice To Light," The Washington Post, April 15, 2006. Available at AR2006041400751.html 244 the dearth of black and Latino Ph.D. candidates in mathematics and the physical sciences: Richard Tapia, "Graduating More Minority Ph.D.'s in Math and Science," The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 26, 2003. Available at 244 more than eleven hours per day: Jana Steadman, "TV Audience Special Study: African-American Audience," Nielsen Media Research, Summer 2005. Available at 245 blacks smoke more: Lori Oliwenstein, "Smoke Tracks," University of Southern California Health Magazine, Spring 2006. 245 and eat more fast food: Shanthy A. Bowman and Bryan T. Vinyard, "Fast Food Consumption of U.S. Adults," Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23, 2004. Abstract available at 245 reliant on blue-collar manufacturing jobs: Jane Birnbaum, "America@Work," AFL-CIO, September 2003. Available at 0903_amjobs.cfm 245 less likely to live in suburban communities: "The State of the Cities: 1999," Department of Housing and Urban Development, June 1999. Available at 246 black unemployment rate fell to record lows: "African Americans Especially Hard Hit by Unemployment," National Employment Law Project, July 30, 2003. Available at 246 black income rose to record highs: "Poverty Rate Lowest in 20 Years, Household Income at Record High," U.S. Census Bureau News, September 26, 2000. Available at 251 on par with Malaysia among poor black Americans: "2006 State of the World's Mothers Report," Save the Children, May 2006. Available at 252 in some Chicago neighborhoods: Monroe Anderson, "We Keep Finding New Ways to Create Criminals," Chicago Sun-Times, June 25, 2006. 252 one in three nationally: Harry Holzer, "Reconnecting Young Black Men," The Washington Post, May 15, 2006. Available at AR2006051500312_pf.html 257 drug dealing is a minimum-wage affair: Stephen Leavitt and Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh, "An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang's Finances," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, August 2000. 262 Spanish-speaking population in Chicago rose by 38 percent: "Chicago Fact Finder: The Changing Face of Chicagoland Communities," Notre Dame Institute for Latino Studies. Available at 263 number of immigrants added to the labor force: "History," Center for Immigration Studies. Available at Back to Top Chapter 8: The World Beyond Our Borders 281 Thomas Jefferson expressed early on the inevitability of expansion beyond the boundaries: James E. Lewis, Jr., The Louisiana Purchase: Jefferson's Noble Bargain? (Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2003). 303 "mind its own business internationally...": "Opinion Leaders Turn Cautious, Public Looks Homeward," Pew Research Center for People and the Press, November 17, 2005. Available at 318 discouraged the ability of countries like Brazil: Karyn Schwartz, "Brazil: A Model Response to AIDS?" PBS Online Newshour. Available at 323 65 percent of Indonesians: "Poll: Major Change of Public Opinion in Muslim World," Terror Free Tomorrow, February 2005. Available at

  Back to Top 

Chapter 9: Family 332 marriage rates have declined steadily since the 1950s: U.S. Census Bureau, "Marital Status of the Population 15 Years Old and Over, by Sex and Race: 1950 to Present," September 21, 2006. Available at 332 more Americans delaying marriage: Harbour Fraser Hodder, "The Future of Marriage," Harvard Magazine, November-December 2004. Available at 332 89 percent of women and 83 percent of men will have tied the knot: "America's Families and Living Arrangements," U.S. Census Bureau, 2005. Available at 332 head 67 percent of American families: "America's Families and Living Arrangements," U.S. Census Bureau, 2005. Available at 332 marriage to be the best foundation: "National Marriage Survey," The Fatherhood Initiative, 2005. Available at 332-3 divorce rates have declined by 21 percent: Sharon Jayson, "Divorce Declining, But So Is Marriage," USA Today, July 18, 2005. Available at 333 half of all first marriages still end in divorce: "Nearly 9-in-10 People May Marry, But Half of First Marriages May End in Divorce, Census Bureau Says," U.S. Census Bureau News, February 8, 2002. Available at 333 60 percent of all divorces involve children: Rex Forehand and Nick Long, "How Parents Can Enhance Their Child's Adjustment During and After Parental Divorce," New York University Child Study Center, June 5, 2002. Available at 333 33 percent of all children are born out of wedlock: "America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2006," National Center for Health Statistics, 2006. Available at 333 34 percent of children don't live with their biological fathers: "Father Facts," National Fatherhood Initiative, 2006. Available at 333 marriage rate for black women has plummeted: "Current Population Survey," U.S. Census Bureau, September 21, 2006. Available at 333 number of African American children living with two married parents: "African American Healthy Marriage Initiative Brochure," Administration for Children and Families, July 2005. Available at 333 African American children live in single-parent households . . . compared to about 23 percent of all white children: "America's Families and Living Arrangements," U.S. Census Bureau, 2005. Available at 333 married couples live healthier: Carla Garnett, "The Case for Wedded Bliss," The NIH Record, 57, January 4, 2005. Available at 333 couples who wait until their late twenties: Megan M. Sweeney and Julie A. Phillips, "Understanding Racial Differences in Marital Disruption," Journal of Marriage and Family, 66, 2004. Available at ext=ccpr#search=%22%E2%80%9CUnderstanding%20Racial%20Differences%20 in%20Marital%20Disruption%2C%E2%80%9D%20Journal%20of%20Marriage%20an d%20Family%22 333 five times more likely to be poor: Ron Haskins, Congressional Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, May 3, 2006. Available at 334 do better than those who live in stepfamilies or with cohabiting partners: Mary Parke, "Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?" Center for Law and Social Policy, May 2003. Available at 334 teen pregnancy rate has dropped by 28 percent: "Teen Pregnancy Rates in the United States, 1972-2000," National Campaign to End Teen Pregnancy, 2004. Available at 334 almost a quarter of out-of-wedlock births: "America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being," National Center for Health Statistics, 2006. Available at 334 more likely to have additional out-of-wedlock births as they get older: Andrea Kane and Daniel T. Lichter, "Reducing Unwed Childbearing: The Missing Link in Efforts to Promote Marriage," The Brookings Institution, April 2006. Available at 334 marriage education workshops can make a real difference: Theodora Ooms, "The New Kid on the Block: What Is Marriage Education and Does It Work?" Center for Law and Social Policy, July 2005. Available at 336 70 percent of families had Mom at home: Karen Kornbluh, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Children and Families of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, April 22, 2004. Available at 336 Karen Kornbluh calls "the juggler family": Karen Kornbluh, "The Parent Trap," The Atlantic Monthly, January-February 2003. Available at 341 Fifty-seven percent of American workers don't have that luxury: Karen Kornbluh, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Children and Families of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, April 22, 2004. Available at 342 alone among Western nations: Sheila B. Kamerman, Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, March 27, 2001. Available at 22Sheila%20B.%20Kamerman%2C%20Testimony%20Before%20the%20Sen ate%20Committee%20on%20Health%2C%20Education%2C%20Labor%20% 26%20Pensions%22 343 all other wealthy nations but one: Australia. "Table 1: Maternity, Paternity, and Parental Leaves in the OECD Countries 1998-2002," The Clearinghouse on International Developments in Child, Youth and Family Policies at Columbia University, 2000. Available at 343 many larger companies offer formal flextime programs: Karen Kornbluh, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Children and Families of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, April 22, 2004. Available at 347 fathers are expected to put in longer hours: Gordon T. Anderson, "Should America Be France?" CNN/Money, October 9, 2003. Available at


Obama concludes The Audacity of Hope with an account of the days and weeks leading up to his delivery of the keynote address bearing the same title as the book at the 2004 Democratic Convention. He expresses gratitude at the attention and accolades that his sudden fame has afforded him, but at the same time, he says that he remains somewhat puzzled at the processes and machinations by which all of this hype came to be focused upon him. Regardless of which way his political career heads in the future, he vows to retain perspective, humor, and humility, as well as an overarching commitment to the greater good that first propelled him into public service.