Dictatorship we can believe in
By Michael M. Bates
Barack Obama wants to be president. Given his authoritarian tendencies, will that be enough for him?
My suspicions were roused last winter when his wife spoke and announced:
"Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."
Require? Demand? Never allow? Such actions generally aren't accomplished solely by a president. They almost always necessitate legislative sanction.
They are, however, the acts dictators can and do take all by themselves with the approval of no one else. As it turns out, the Illinois senator has a whole lot of requiring going on.
His web site includes "The Blueprint for Change: Barack Obama's Plan for America." There we learn that "Obama will require that employers provide seven paid sick days per year to their employees."
That may initially sound good. Consider, though, small businesses operating on a shoestring that can't provide the benefit and will have to close. Surely their former employees aren't better off in an unemployment line.
Where in the Constitution is Washington endowed with authority to dictate private companies' fringe benefits? More pragmatically, the president simply couldn't mandate such a measure without the approval of Congress. Or would Obama try?
Obama's blueprint makes no mention of legislative involvement. His Magnificence will simply require it and that will make it so.
Moreover, the candidate's Blueprint for Change states that:
"Obama will require 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be included in the fuel supply by 2022 and will increase that to at least 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol by 2030."
"Obama will require all schools of education to be accredited."
"Obama will require companies to send Medicare beneficiaries a full list of the drugs and fees they paid the previous year."
"Obama will require lenders to provide clear and simplified information about loan fees, payments and penalties, and he'll require them to provide this information during the application process."
"Obama will require providers to report preventable medical errors and support hospital and physician practice improvement to prevent future occurrences."
"Obama will require that all children have health care coverage."
Not everything in the blueprint says Obama will require: "Obama will reform our bankruptcy laws to protect working people, ban executive bonuses for bankrupt companies, and require disclosure of all pension investments."
That should be particularly challenging. Barack, apparently single handedly, is going to reform the bankruptcy laws already passed by Congress.
He's also prepared to unilaterally amend the tax code. At least twice it's mentioned that "Obama will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year."
If you have a fondness for big, intrusive government, you may like some of the things Obama says he will require. Still, it must give you pause that a person supposedly so steeped in the law has either such little knowledge of or regard for it.
Obama used to assert he'd been a constitutional law professor. When it came out his title was actually "senior lecturer," he dialed the claim down. Nevertheless, anyone who paid attention in grade school civics class knows that we have three distinct branches of government and that there are limits on each.
His campaign statements suggest that Obama doesn't grasp this. Or maybe, with his extraordinarily elevated sense of self, such details are beneath him. He can do as he pleases. After all, he's clearly told us in advance what his intentions are.
He'll require this and he'll mandate that. His are not the words of a democratic Republic; it's the language of tyranny and coercion.
His wife, who he said recently was one of the wisest people he knows and will help guide him as president, very specifically told us what to expect. We have only ourselves to blame if he carries out his pledges.
Barack Obama aspires to be president. But that's only because we in the United States don't have a dictator.
This Mike Bates column appeared in the August 21, 2008 Reporter Newspapers.