Ten years ago, in honor of Chicago's own Barack Obama's presidential inauguration, the Chicago Reader became the Obama Reader. "By now, just about everybody's got a Barack Obama story," Mick Dumke wrote. "The Reader has been collecting more substantial stories than mine about Obama since 1995, when it ran what might be the first in-depth profile of the young politician. On the eve of his inauguration, we thought we'd share with our readers (and those of our D.C. sister publication, Washington City Paper) some of the best . . ."
The issue revisited that first feature of Obama, "What Makes Obama Run?," a look at his Senate campaign written by Hank De Zutter.
What makes Obama different from other progressive politicians is that he doesn't just want to create and support progressive programs; he wants to mobilize the people to create their own. He wants to stand politics on its head, empowering citizens by bringing together the churches and businesses and banks, scornful grandmothers and angry young. Mostly he's running to fill a political and moral vacuum. He says he's tired of seeing the moral fervor of black folks whipped up—at the speaker's rostrum and from the pulpit—and then allowed to dissipate because there's no agenda, no concrete program for change.
While no political opposition to Obama has arisen yet, many have expressed doubts about the practicality of his ambitions. Obama himself says he's not certain that his experimental plunge into electoral politics can produce the kind of community empowerment and economic change he's after.
There were plenty of updated takes on the newly elected president, too. Deanna Isaacs took a look at what Obama would do for the arts. Michael Miner explored Obama's universal appeal. Miles Raymer wondered how the president might change the way we look at hip-hop. As we gear up for the next presidential election, it's worth keeping in mind what an issue dedicated to the next leader of our country might look like. v