The revisioning of America by Barack Obama
By Joseph Randolph
We may be standing at a hugely significant turn in American political history, by having elected the first couple who each claimed during their relentless campaigning, to see more wrong with America than simply the previous eight Bush years. The elected candidate and his wife, sometimes carefully, and sometimes rather recklessly, said and intimated that America needed a fix requiring a reworking of the core ideas and praxis of the country. Sometimes they had to explain such words, but as the campaign drew closer to the finish line and their perception of an inevitable political victory, the plan of reworking the country came increasingly to the fore, as more and more voters appeared to listen. Previous to this campaign and the decades long maligning of the country by the party of this candidate, most citizens of the country thought their country certainly amongst the best and freest and friendliest countries of the world. This was despite the fact, for example, that President Clinton undertook a world tour as President in which he abjectly apologized to some heads of states and peoples that had received purported ill treatment at the hands of his nation. Many academics and most of the media have acquiesced to some degree in this judgment of the sinner nation for some time. Coupled with a few decades of education and misinformation packaged with such underlying and punitive themes, this point of view required repetition and ratcheting enough until many ordinary Americans came to believe what they heard. Eventually the time would ripen to vote those ideas into greater office, but not without the aid of significant elitists who had presented such negative estimations of the country for the public to consider. To witness the extent of the harbingers for this elected candidate we note the overwhelming and clearly unapologetic support of most academics and most media in his bid for office, and whether admitted or not, (though something of an embarrassment to some), most of our foreign enemies. When the association with Bill Ayers produced some controversy about the candidate's choice of friends, the prior Weatherman was described as "a respected member of the academic community." Most listeners took that to mean he was okay, with little idea of the radically politicized culture of the American academy today. The Hollywood actors and actresses lined up behind this candidate too, least we leave anyone important out.
The currently elected candidate, however, will go beyond the apology of his party's previous president to intimate a new "vision" for America, reminiscent in ways of the social programs of Franklin Roosevelt, undertaken with the New Frontier flair of Kennedy. Some have inclined to see the new president as desirous of presenting another "New Deal," this one more wrenching than the first. The new vision, moreover, portends revisions in waiting for not a few American mores and values.The culture can, I think, withstand the assault, but not without some great trials.
What was the appeal of the candidate for voters? Many cast their vote because of his utopian vision, crafted on top of his estimation of the country as reprehensible in the past and present. Many voters of this elected candidate had not the eyes to see their mind simply capsized in a stream of eloquent but largely vacuous speeches. The speeches very rarely provided much detail, but never matter, for the promise to raise America from its depths of depravity to a righteous country where the lion will lie down with the lamb, was a spellbinding idea for many devotees.Here was a candidate all about good, and little that his opposition could say about the suspect company he kept could dissuade them. This candidate they simply could not not vote for.His promising ideas simply held too much promise to forego voting for another candidate who looked as old and retiring as this candidate looked young and ready. This candidate sounded better than the best orator that had ever come out of Hyde Park.
What can we expect from this elected President?
Though the greatest liberals of the past have trucked without pause with the uncertainties of the future, the most ardent contemporary liberals demand certainty and security for the future. "Guarantee" is a word common among them and it stretches out to infer that the time frame is eternity. This elected candidate is no different than his predecessors, except more so. As liberalism has degenerated, these politicians see their primary political opportunity in the state of the voter's kitchen table, mortgage, day care, and dental insurance, among other things. Liberal political philosophy these days thus embraces more and more of a materialist manifesto, while advocates, such as this candidate, are mystifyingly held up as spiritual leaders, despite their animosity to much of traditional religion. The urgency of the next meal and house payment and root canal makes them talk as if hunger, foreclosure, and uncovered pain is close, but any conservative answer, such as allowing the money makers to keep more of their money, draws a snarl. Thus, Bush's tax cut was assailed by these politicians reminding us that we could not predict the economic future, and thus we would be hasty to give money back to the owners that government might need later for the citizens. The historic recklessness and arrogance of liberals with taxpayer money remains steadfast.We can expect more of such recklessness with this elected candidate. One hopes that in a period of huge financial uncertainty, the normal propensity of liberals to spend in Keynesian fashion would show some restraint.
With the appetite for certainty whetted, security—and its security, control—begin the process of purging and pruning life in a frightful manner. The contemporary liberal must minimize risk to maximize certainty of security, or guarantee. However, within the clamor of the traditional liberal emphasis on justice, which keeps the concept of a materialist manifesto moving toward the citizens, this politician has a program that justifies manipulation of well nigh everything, 401K's possibly included. The resulting union of liberalism and justice is a bastardization of both, because freedom and liberty present too many variables for the resurgent and despotic notion of justice as equal outcome. "Spreading the wealth around," sounds terrific to some until one asks who besides me is deciding what is done with my wealth and by what right? Because the variables made possible by freedom and liberty jeopardize the certainty of security, to ensure justice one must control such variables with their associated risks for certainty. Justice for the liberal egalitarian will therefore occur when such variables are put under government control, by issuing separate rules for separate groups, for without benefit of blatant despotic government this is the only way the liberal can ensure his notion of justice as enforced equality. The infamous "fairness doctrine," therefore, has no truthful claim to the descriptive but deceptive adjective. The case is similar for virtually any word touted by today's political liberals. One has to study their language to understand what they mean by the words they abuse.
Much of the liberal pruning of life is thus a pruning of other's lives, for this political ideology at full throttle envies and thus mandates the leveling of any peaks—successes, in other words. With the voracious appetite for security whetted and demanding to be fed from above, this politician becomes shrill so as to be heard. Part of the shrillness, however, bespeaks the envy with which this politician greets success because he is committed to explain empty tables in light of full tables, or the peak because of the valley, or on an even larger scale, poor countries explained in terms of rich countries. When this elected candidate went to Europe in the course of his campaign, he made reference to the need to remove the difference between rich and poor nations: global equal outcome is thus one part of the vision.
There is scant talk in contemporary liberalism these days about individuals as individuals anymore, because instead the masses are held up. Their appetites are whetted with expectation when candidates announce themselves, as Al Gore did in his failed campaign for President, as "for the people," while the opponent is left stuck with the impugned minority: characterized by Gore as the "powerful." As protectorate of the people, this politician presents himself as standing at the helm and guiding his flock through fears that provoke hearers to huddle behind rather than run ahead. For such a politician, the news of the day is only good when it is bad. This is why campaigning is most effective in times of uneasiness—especially financial unease.Thus, this politician is ever at work, even on vacation, and reminds those on the steamer with him that they are only one paycheck away from the lifeboat, so in effect we are all in the same boat, because indeed we are all alike. So much for the touted liberal belief in the differences that mandate respect for "diversity."
The liberal will hunt for failure, as did John Edwards in seeking his party's nomination, with a whole campaign focused on and zeroing in on the "Other America." Couched in veiled but transparent moral outrage over success, this intent is committed to finding any counterexample that can impugn a whole nation, and thus presents the one to prove the ninety and nine illegitimate. Here the liberal is close enough to religious language to be grossly but not infrequently mistaken for an authentic spokesman for God, a comparison that our newly elected president encouraged by not ever asking his followers to stop the messianic descriptions of him flowing from their lips, and encouraged by professors, media minions, and stars of the screen and stage.
For the radical liberal there are only successes made possible by someone else's failure. In this narrative, everything is finite, and must therefore be controlled. Each will be given according to his need, but what must be managed most, that is, controlled, are the takers of risks that produce more than they need: rambunctious plumbers and the like. Those risk takers who do succeed are the nemesis of ardent liberals, and are accordingly portrayed as having thrown others off the cliff by virtue of their position.
This politician therefore is not much of a believer in diversity or democracy of the kind many Americans are familiar with, but a level surface in which none can rise above another and those who do so are suspect or selfish and uninterested in building "community." Few conservatives, however, measure what amounts to a form of mob rule as "community." The conservative is resistant to nesting for the sake of a showy and perverted sense of "compassion." The conservative is ready to abandon the mediocre, the failed, and to make the good better. The conservative's liberalism prevents him from just wanting to get by, and this has the net effect of a willingness to seek positive change: one traditional but vanishing trait of the contemporary liberal. The push by conservatives for school vouchers and partial privation of Social Security exhibit willingness to risk something in order to have something better. To liberals, however, this threatens to produce the kind of knowledge and wealth that risks can produce, and thus is rejected as another unrecondite world of unequal haves and have-nots. With acceptance of risk, however, many a venturesome soul sailed for the New York harbor.
Thus, for the liberal the desire for security comes to outweigh the promise of betterment and greatness, and life becomes a matter of small pleasures, for the dreamed of big ones are too risky—or only for the rich. The Cold War statement of the left, "Better Red than Dead," reflects the defeatism that liberalism embraces. Food comes before freedom. For the liberal, having a fish to eat becomes more important than knowing how to fish and again reflects the materialist orientation of someone mistaken for a spiritual prophet. By regress, the stomach, not the soul, becomes the most important part of the man.
By contrast Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" connotes an individual who will have no truck with a free lunch when he could have his own—and fearful for the freedom that dissipates with a "free" lunch ultimately more expensive than the one he pays for. The liberal politician spoken of, however, finds his ultimate security in the meals and mortgages and day care and dental insurance provided, and not in promises of greatness, which only prompt the exercise of risks and remind one of the differences among people. The conservative by contrast finds his ultimate project in his soul, not in his stomach. With this elected candidate, the grand utopian vision will therefore produce mediocrity, and will therefore be unable to draw from itself, and will therefore require a bounty and vision from elsewhere—the traditional American mores impugned and mocked by this elected candidate and his powerful schoolrooms and newsrooms and stage helpers. They have openly expressed their contempt for the America and Americans they loathe. The resilience of traditional America, though perhaps to be sorely tested during this time, will prove I think adequate to the test. We shall overcome, and the test to which our traditional values are put may also hone them to perhaps a greater brilliance than they possessed before they were thrown onto the fire.
The revisioning of America by this elected candidate will take the latest liberal political policies, but push them harder and relentlessly. Any candid look at the history of the socialist quest for heaven on earth, however, will evidence the immense human misery its victims must pass through and withstand before their land can be restored from that blight.
Joseph Randolph is a writer and academic who lives in Wisconsin.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!