The activist Professor Cornel West has goals and agendas that are, at best, only partially apparent to the rest of us despite his academic prominence and countless interviews; it’s reasonable to assume that his priorities and tactics fluctuate dynamically.

Thomas Hayes 

Editor, journalist, entrepreneur, political consultant, photographer, and former Congressional Campaign Manager, Thomas Hayes

I’ve been a little startled by the recent tactical “turn” and troubled, frankly, by certain of the holier-than-thou reactions. I’ve met Dr. West only once, briefly, in the course of covering the Democratic Nominating Convention in Denver in August of 2008 — so I don’t claim to know him well enough to judge anything but the apparent effect(s) of his recent commentary on President Obama. I haven’t asked him about the rumors he’s reacting to perceived snubs, because I’m not intent on reducing this to a tabloid story about personalities in conflict.

The dominant effect of  West’s criticism is to encourage discussion of how the President is serving various communities. I’m delighted to hear more about Obama’s work and impact instead of letting the cable-channel talking heads control the dialog while droning on about re-packaged trickle-down economic theories and the supposed dangers of gay marriage while they let the GOP politicians and strategists off the hook for continuing to act as though they’re in the employ of ExxonMobil, GE, and the Koch Brothers.

Well, depending how you consider the impact of donations to campaigns and super-PACs perhaps they are, in fact, working for the wealthy – I can’t fault a strategist for working for whoever pays them even if an elected politician is supposed to represent the will of the people he or she represents.

I don’t necessarily agree with Cornel West, yet I thank him for pulling the conversation back toward philosophical consideration of what the role of the President and the federal government is (and should be) from a perspective other than the bottom line of a mega-corporation.

activist, philosopher, and professor Dr. Cornel West
Princeton Professor Cornel West Ph.D.

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