The Nature of Obama’s Liberalism

In a previous posting on this blog (Different Visions), I have explained, as have many others, how a dispassionate evaluation of the performance of governments that operated according to liberal principles — whether of the extreme varieties like Communism, Nazism, Peronism or Italian fascism; or of the more moderate types practiced in the welfare states of Western Europe — must result in the conclusion that they were abject failures. Of course, by liberal I mean in the modern sense, not classic liberalism as it was understood in the eighteenth century. To wit, and in brief: a collectivist philosophy that emphasizes the central government as the controlling force in society; an elevation of equity, fairness and security above liberty, freedom and private property as fundamental goals of the populace; government control, if not outright ownership, of the means of production; a multicultural, non-religious, ‘global family’ cultural outlook that debases the value of Western Civilization, American history and free markets; and a ‘living Constitutional’ system in which ‘change,’ ‘progress’ and the pursuit of ‘social justice’ count for far more than ‘tradition,’ ‘stability’ andthe ‘rule of law.’ (A more thorough explanation of the basic tenets ofmodern liberalism, as opposed to conservative principles, can be foundin my book, Liberal Hearts and Conservative Brains).

The human carnage, decline in prosperity, loss of freedom and dependent mentality that have resulted in nations in which liberalism has reigned unchecked are so pervasive and obvious that I wondered in the aforementioned article how liberals could ‘ignore these results andcontinue to have faith in their leftist ideas.’ I offered three possible explanations there. It is my purpose in this article to ascribe one (or more) of these rationales to the underlying motives of our dear President. To be more precise in that article, I said:

Either the liberal is blind to the damage; or he sees it but believes the principles have not been applied correctly and that America is a special case in which liberalism can co-exist with classic American ideals in order to improve our country; or he flagrantly does not care. In the first instance, much of the populace simply does not recognize or does not understand the wreckage of liberalism’s failures. They are so brainwashed by the media, the schools, the librarians, the ad agencies, the lawyers, the foundations and all the other opinion molding organs of society that have been thoroughly captured by the Left, that they believe — among other fairy tales — that Roosevelt’s New Deal pulled the US out of the Great Depression; that Great Society programs have produced a more just society — not one characterized by welfare dependency, out of wedlock births, rampant pornography, a permanent underclass and wanton crime; and that the Income Tax and the alphabet soup of federal regulatory agencies allow the Federal Government to assume its rightful place as the most important component of US society, providing vital support for education, energy, transportation, housing and virtually every other facet of American life.

In the second instance, we encounter the ‘well-intentioned liberal.’ The Democratic Party is well-stocked with them. They are confident that they can fine-tune and spruce up American society according to more humane egalitarian principles in order to smooth the rough edges caused by rugged individualism. They do not believe that the fundamental character of the American experiment in freedom will be altered by their policies, rather it will be perfected. We will acknowledge our past flaws like slavery, maltreatment of American Indians and suppression of women’s rights, and by correcting them and other deficiencies in our society, we will create a more enlightened country that remains true to its fundamental creed as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Finally, in the third case, doctrinaire liberals/socialists do not care about the carnage because they would have you believe that America is an unjust, unfair, bigoted and corrupt nation that must be completely remade. They do not see prosperity and success as the nation’s primary goals; rather equality and fairness should reign supreme. Liberty and freedom are not nearly as important as social justice, multiculturalism and environmental justice — whatever that is. In which of these three categories Obama fits is a topic for a future article.

Well, here is that article.

Now of course I do not know Barack Obama personally and so anymotives I ascribe to him will represent conclusions based on my observations of his public persona. But the President of the United States is the most closely scrutinized person in the world. Over the course of his campaign for the Presidency and especially in his actions during the first half year of that Presidency, there is more than ample evidence to formulate what I see as highly probable motivations.

So let us start with the first rationale. This would explain Obama’s extreme left-wing policies as follows. Namely, he believes in his heart that he is doing what is best for America, that his actions and their consequences are fully consistent with American history and Constitutional Law and that they will result in a better country economically, socially and especially morally. I have no doubt that many of his followers, thoroughly brainwashed by the media, the educational establishment and the other opinion molding organs of American society that are firmly in the grip of the Left, fit this description perfectly. They are not cognizant or will not accept that socialism/fascism/liberalism or whatever you want to call Obama’s political orientation has been a colossal failure wherever it has been tried. They do not know or will not recognize that: cap and trade will impoverish the United States, nationalized health insurance will result in the rationing of health care, coddling of the mullahs will endanger our security, pumping up the money supply and out of control governments pending will result in stagflation, and increasing taxes on the ‘wealthy’ will hurt the middle class. Their disbelief or ignorance is breathtaking because these consequences are exactly what has happened when loony liberalism has prevailed — see, e.g., England, prior to the arrival of Margaret Thatcher on the scene.

But I seriously doubt that Obama is that ignorant. Yes, he is brainwashed — after all, his political associations in his young adult life were almost exclusively with those on the hard Left. His entire worldview, from law school student to Community-Organizer-in-Chief, has been fashioned out of the clay molded by extreme left sculptors of American society — Alinsky, Wright, Ayers and the like. Moreover, the disdain that is evident in his manner when he pays lip service to conservative alternatives to his beliefs suggests that he gives absolutely no credence to the possibility that his collectivist views are misguided and potentially lethal to the country. If this is not brainwashed, it is certainly closed-minded.

But my liberal friends keep assuring me that he is a very smart man. I choose to believe them. It is impossible, if he is so smart, that he does not know exactly what he is doing and what the consequences will be. So I am ruling out ignorance. That leaves only naivete or malevolence. If it is the former, then, in spite of its track record, he believes that liberalism is still the best course for America. Yes ,it has failed in other venues, but only because it wasn’t conceptualized well or its implementation was flawed. He doesn’t accept that Nazism or Communism is in any way related to liberalism. And he doesn’t see Western Europe as a failure. Yes, their economic growth and productivity doesn’t match ours, but they have fairer, more equitable societies. Besides, with our Yankee ingenuity and initiative, we’ll do it better than they have. And yes, their militaries are weaker than ours, but if we play our cards carefully in foreign policy, we won’t need such a strong military. Okay, the country will be overall a little poorer, but only because there won’t be so many billionaires. On the other hand, our wealth will be more evenly distributed, resulting in a more just society. Yes, we ignore or circumvent the original meaning of the Constitution on occasion; but Obama would have only been 3/5 of a person under its aegis — thus it is a flawed document. Besides, it is not a biblical tract that demands absolute obedience. It’s only meant as a guide. And I believe, says Mr. Obama, that the path I am taking America down is not inconsistent with that Guide Book.

To me this is naivete par excellence. It is a design for the future based on a faulty reading of the past. Is it a faithful representation of Obama’s core philosophy? Maybe! What about the third possibility?

In fact it is painful to write the following words. To entertain the thought that the freely elected President of the United States is not a patriot, that he despises what our country has stood for and seeks a radical recasting of the fundamental character of the nation, to think thus is to contemplate the possibility that the last election was a suicidal act by the people of the United States. And yet it is possible, many would say plausible, and a not insignificant number would claim that it is self-evident.

The evidence is strong. He promised and he is delivering, together with the left-wing radicals he has appointed, an ultra-liberal government. Of course in this he is greatly aided by the mob of Leftists who now control the Congress. But it is his advocacy of: cap and trade; nationalized, uniform, mandatory and government controlled health insurance; higher taxes (on everyone, not just the ‘rich’); card check; nationalization of critical segments of private industry; massive government spending and debt; a multilateral and WEAK foreign policy that coddles our adversaries and pressures only Israel; evisceration of the armed forces, curtailment of missile defense and abolition of don’t-ask-don’t tell; a marginal place for religion in American life (which church has he joined? Oh, Rev. Wright is not preaching in DC); federal command of public (and private) education; a weakening of the public’s right to bear arms, and on and on . . .. It is his advocacy of all of this (and more) that is the embodiment of an extreme left-wing program that will radically alter the fundamental and historic nature of American society. Moreover, he never speaks of liberty and freedom, or the rights of Americans to their businesses or property. He goes abroad and paints a wretched portrait of an America that has betrayed the ideals of the American Revolution. (Actually I think he has our revolution and that of the French confused.) He seems oblivious to America’s lead role in the fight to eliminate Nazism, Communism and even colonialism from the world. Perhaps these are not worthy accomplishments in his eyes.

So is he a naive waif seeking to rescue an imperfect America in whose fundamental principles he believes, or is he a malevolent soul intent on remaking a corrupt, bigoted and violent America that he reviles? I wish I knew! But it has to be one of these two. Although, perhaps it does not matter. What difference does it make if he is purposefully leading us to hell or if he is accidentally diverting us there? We shall be lost either way.

Obama certainly seems to admire the welfare states of Western Europe and seeks to have the US emulate them. He would appear to be blissfully unaware of the political and social cancers that afflict those societies. Cancers that are largely self-inflicted. For not unlike in the Soviet Union as it decayed into non-existence, the leaders and people of Europe have lost faith in their own guiding principles and legends. How else to explain a continent in which:

  • you cannot speak of Christ, Christianity or Christmas on the soil that used to be known as Christendom;
  • the people that produced the art, science and literature of the Renaissance now produce . . . little, because no one is working very hard;
  • the countries that invented and perfected the idea of the nation-state are falling all over themselves to surrender their sovereignty to a supra-national European Union;
  • some of the strongest armies in world history were created, yet today has virtually no military capability;
  • the defeat of an invading Islamic army was repeated several times, but today lies prostrate before a horde of invading Muslim civilians that are subverting the culture from within;
  • few are getting married, fewer are having babies, and the resulting, quickly aging population is oblivious to the mortal dangers these pose.

My final thought: are we there yet? Does Obama’s election signal the end of the great American experiment in individual liberty, limited government and unbounded opportunity? Will he lead us down the path that Europe has already trod? Americans still describe themselves overwhelmingly as more conservative than liberal. How can that be squared with their political choices in 2008? Are so many of us so thoroughly brainwashed that we don’t realize that we are not really conservative? Or were we just so disappointed in Bush and the fake conservative Republicans that we decided to give the real liberals a chance? Will we regret it as we did with Jimmy Carter and come to our senses? I DON’T KNOW. The stakes are very high. Obama’s liberalism, whatever its true nature, is a lethal dart aimed at the heart of America. Will we duck or will we not even notice that it has struck its mark?