Obama Leads the Liberalism Parade
The president's newest 2012 election strategy gives mainstream Americans a rare look at the Democrat Party's voter base. By now it's obvious that President Obama doesn't want Congress to pass his "jobs bill." Neither does he have any intention of enacting his deficit reduction proposal. On the contrary, the plans Obama presented over the past few weeks seem specifically designed to fail in Congress, where even many Capitol Hill Democrats want no part of the legislation.
Far from legitimately seeking new policy (perhaps we should call it old policy with zombie-like longevity), Obama is using his economic proposals to run a pre-general election campaign. Unlike in an actual primary campaign, where other candidates may make Obama look like a bitter leftist whose ideas would harm the country, here the president feels unencumbered by any need for seriousness. In policy and rhetoric, Obama is showing us an unfiltered version of American liberalism.
Liberalism begins with materialism. It is a materialism that is less about the total possessions one has and more about how much one has compared to someone else. As former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put it, "[i]f we were all poor, it would be too bad, but we would be the same. What the problem is now is the poor know what the rich have." In rhetoric and in practice, the liberal would rather see the poor man poorer as long as the wealthy man is less rich.
Obama rails about "multimillionaires and billionaires" -- not because they don't pay high tax rates (they pay the highest rates), but because, as the president says, "at a certain point, [they've] made enough money." What the liberal philosophy ignores is the fact that highest income-earners do the most to raise the standard of living of every American -- rich, poor, or in between.
The reason why liberalism divides voters along income lines is to stir passion among the electorate, but it is not an appeal to our better angels. The passion manifests itself through jealousy, envy, selfishness, preoccupation with material things, and a willingness to deny rights to others because we feel that they have too much.
Perhaps worst of all, class warfare attacks the civic foundation upon which America was built. The American colonists, in one newspaper article, pamphlet, personal letter, or public address after another, held that the purpose of government was to protect life, liberty, and property. The British Stamp Act, Revenue Act, Tea Act, and other laws were affronts to the colonists' property rights and eventually led to our separation from the tyrant King George.
To put a fine point on the matter, John Adams wrote in 1787:
The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet," and "Thou shalt not steal," were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.
In 2011, the liberal would transform American government from a protector of rights into the granter of a grab-bag of "green" energy subsidies, health care mandates, and a thousand other line items which confiscate and control the property of Americans. Liberalism's disrespect for property rights far exceeds anything seen from King George or the 18th-century British Parliament.
Beyond the realm of material things, liberalism is an ideology of conceit. The liberal believes that if he doesn't run the universe, everything will fall to pieces. "Only government," claimed Obama in February of 2009, would be able to save the economy from a never-ending recession. Last week Obama warned of dire consequences if we failed to give him still more control over our economic output. "Either we gut education and medical research" the president thundered in a recent speech, or change "the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes."
The reality is that long before liberals came to power, recessions ended, medicine advanced, and Americans were educated. Furthermore, we would continue to progress (and at a faster rate) without a Vishnuian political class which believes it must control the world.
Liberalism wraps its quest for ever-greater control in the righteous robes of the protector. "I'm a warrior for the middle-class," Obama proudly declared last week in an Ohio speech. But if he wins that war, if the ideas of liberalism carry the day, then it will be a victory which promotes the privilege of some citizens as the expense of another citizen's rights.
To win privilege by trampling the rights of others is not only immoral; it's unsustainable. Abraham Lincoln put it this way: "Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it." As we chip away at the property rights of some and give government more and more power, those who at first benefit eventually will lose both their property (the depth and length of this recession is an example) and their right to self-governance (Obamacare).
The president's liberalism parade appears to be working. "I felt instantly better," a smiling Michael Moore told MSNBC's Chris Matthews after Obama's recent speeches. On the same show, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich elatedly declared, "This is a new Barack Obama!" The president may well recapture a measure of enthusiasm among his base, but the rest of America would be wise to take note of the methods, goals, and eventual dire results of liberalism.