What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

The Naked White Obama

January 21, 2010, 6:32 PM

With his election to the Senate in a staunchly Democratic state, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has quickly become the Republican Party's presumptive new savior. Even though he is just assuming office, his improbable victory already has people talking about whether he could run for president in four years. The Drudge Report quickly splashed a banner across its homepage reading, "Now... Will He Run for President?" And Brown's rapid rise, natural charisma, and huge number of fans—combined with a nude spread he did in Cosmo almost 30 years ago—led Wonkette to joke that he might be "the naked white Barack Obama." But could Brown really challenge the actual black Obama in 2012?

Sen. Brown may have a future on the national stage. His rise would be no more rapid that Barack Obama's or Sarah Palin's. His ability to win in a Democratic state—and attract the vote of both movement conservatives and moderate Democrats—certainly suggests he has a great deal of potential. But there is also something premature about talk of a Brown presidency. He is like a baseball player who has been tearing up the minor leagues—and a short election against a weak opponent is really the political minor leagues. We don't know if he can succeed at the national level against better opponents who will expose his weaknesses. Remember Bobby Jindal?

Tom Schaller at FiveThirtyEight sees three possible scenarios for Brown. He might be able to become a enduring partisan anomaly in the Senate, a Republican version of retiring Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who managed to survive as a Democrat in a Republican state. Or Brown might be able to use his current fame to become a national star for the Republican Party. He is, after all, young and telegenic, on top of having won a huge symbolic victory for the party. As Schaller says, Brown just has the look of a presidential candidate. But third possibility is that Brown could be a flash in the pan who fumbles on the national stage and loses his seat in 2012 when a capable, well-prepared Democrat runs against him.

My guess is that Sen. Brown won't be just a flash in the pan. As I wrote yesterday, Sen. Brown enters the Congress as a pivotal figure who can either block the Democrats' agenda or cut a deal with them in exchange for political concessions. That makes him a player on the political scene right away. And while he could easily stumble, he has so far shown himself someone able to avoid major mistakes. Still, what it takes to win in Massachusetts—which, believe it or not, is still a liberal state—is very different than what it would take to become the standard-bearer for the Republican Party. He was able to attract tea party support as a candidate for the Senate in Massachusetts, where anyone further to the right wouldn't have much chance. But, as Boris Schor argues, Brown is will easily be one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress. If he were to run for president, he'd have to move dramatically to the right or conservatives would attack him for being a RINO—a Republican in Name Only. Conservative Glenn Beck has already expressed his doubts about Brown's character. Alluding to that nude photo shoot, Beck said that Brown ought to wear a chastity belt, adding, "This one could end with a dead intern. I’m just saying, it could end with a dead intern."

Sen. Brown could well be the Republican nominee for president someday. But in the end he'll almost certainly have to choose between Massachusetts and the national Republican Party.


The Naked White Obama

Newsletter: Share: