Renegades | Barack Obama

Summary of: Renegades: Born in the USA
By: Barack Obama


Delve into the minds of two influential figures – Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen – as they discuss their personal upbringing, values, and visions for America in ‘Renegades: Born in the USA.’ This book provides a fascinating insight into the lives of these two renowned men, shedding light on their unique perspectives on American identity, masculinity, and their hopes for a unified future. Dive deep into their thoughts on politics, society, relationships, and musical heroes while discovering their shared struggle to define a new kind of American story. This book is a candid exploration of their experiences, beliefs, and aspirations, inspiring readers to reflect on what it means to be an American in today’s world.

Mothers as the Rocks in Obama and Springsteen’s Lives

The connection between Obama and Springsteen goes beyond lofty ideals as they both had strong and dependable mothers who were their rocks in life.

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen share more than just a commitmenttowards facing the facts and building a better future. They were both raised by strong mothers who were dependable, supportive, and always there while their fathers played a less important role in their lives. For Springsteen, his father was quiet and distant while his mother was the rock in the family. Despite her steady job, Springsteen was largely unsupervised and was free to roam the streets as he wished.

Similarly, Obama’s mother was the source of love and stability in his life. Despite his parents’ separation, she raised him to feel proud and confident, even in Hawaii, where he was a minority and often felt like an outsider. Like Springsteen, Obama also relied on his mother for the stability and care he needed.

Springsteen’s childhood was peculiar to him as he had no structure, stability, or guidance. Other children obeyed rules and had limits, which he lacked and resulted in him feeling adrift with nowhere to fit in and no clear path forward. Obama calls this feeling of being on the outside “emotional displacement,” something that he, too, experienced in his life.

However, both Obama and Springsteen found solace in their music and message. They believe that America is a place where people from every walk of life can come to start anew, just as America was founded by misfits, outsiders, and the displaced. Their shared past experiences and optimism for a future undivided are what brought them together beyond their lofty ideals.

In conclusion, Obama and Springsteen’s friendship goes beyond what meets the eye, with both being raised by strong mothers who were their rocks in life. Their shared experiences, coupled with their optimistic outlook on the future of America, have brought them together as friends.

The Long Hot Summer of ’67: Springsteen’s America

The book highlights the impact of the long hot summer of 1967 on the racial tension in America, which gave rise to months of unrest in major US cities. It further explores Springsteen’s personal reckoning as a musician amidst the country’s moral and social turmoil in the mid-70s. Despite its initial provincialism, his hometown of Freehold and the neighboring Asbury Park served as the inspiration for his music that portrayed characters suspended in uncertainty within America’s changing society. This resonates with Obama’s critical patriotism towards the country, as both Springsteen and the former President point to the social and economic problems, including racial divides and capitalism’s damaging effects on the American Dream.

Beyond Money

The works of Springsteen and Obama are a testament to the fact that money isn’t the only way to gain status. In a society where wealth is often valued above all else, they represent a competing system of American values. Both recognize that a meaningful life is not just about capital gains but about everyday heroism and being of service to others. They advocate for a set of values that transcends material possessions and invite us to embrace a more fulfilling way of living that goes beyond money.

Wrestling with Masculinity

Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama reminisce on the changing ideals of masculinity and the struggles they faced in conforming to traditional gender roles.

Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama have both witnessed the changing definition of masculinity, from the image of tough-talking John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart to the current trend of positive masculinity. The previous ideals of masculinity were characterized by men who were tough, hard-living, and reserved. However, these social expectations not only vary by societal models but are also reflective of the form of masculinity one’s father models. Both Springsteen and Obama missed out on this and experienced different strifes in their masculinity.

Springsteen struggled to convert his father’s ghost into an ancestor that walked beside him instead of haunting him. His father and the prevailing idea around masculinity pushed him to believe that family and romantic relationships were a weakness, and they weakened a man’s independence. Patti Scialfa’s entrance into his life changed his perception as he realized she was there to strengthen him.

In contrast, Obama, thanks to his mom and grandmother, anticipated more opinionated and strong women in his life. Michelle became the kind of person who wouldn’t shy away from pushing Obama to ask significant questions, and he believed that he needed a woman like her in his life. Despite his strong female influence, he still fell into the trap of the expectations around masculinity. At school, playing sports, drinking, and getting high were vital components of being masculine.

Both men agree that some expectations of masculinity still persist today, even though America is beginning to question John Wayne’s traditional male role model. Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama reminisce on the changing ideals of masculinity and the struggles they faced in conforming to traditional gender roles.

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