Which Is More Dangerous: Obama's Head or Obama's Heart?
Two of the more fascinating reads published recently are Mark Levin's Ameritopia and Dennis Prager's Still the Best Hope. Both provide penetrating analysis on why a century of progressivism has propelled the USA to the brink of a national catastrophe. And both offer a compelling vision of a return to bedrock conservatism as the only and obvious solution to the economic and cultural calamities that barely checked liberalism has bestowed upon the nation. Each author writes with great passion, and both arrive at very similar conclusions.
However, there is a major difference in the approaches of the two works. Levin emphasizes the flawed political and economic theories that animate the progressive agenda. He explains how four fundamentally utopian fantasies (Plato's Republic, Thomas More's Utopia, Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, and Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto) have provided the political playbook from which liberals over the last century have drawn their inspiration and hatched their strategies. Prager, on the other hand, attributes much of the motivation for liberal initiatives to a reaction to the innate feelings that progressives have about the issues that confront the nation. Rather than follow a specific blueprint for "hope and change," progressives are inclined, according to Prager, to follow their feelings about how things should be, why they are not that way, and how to bring them about.
Of course, whether they heed their heads or their hearts, liberals advance their progressive agenda in the face of overwhelming evidence that their statism results in such things as high unemployment, decreased productivity, diminished freedom, cultural decay, inadequate defense capabilities, entrenched poverty, and the erosion of family, community, and the pillars of civil society.
Now, the most important progressive operating in the U.S. today is President Obama. Any self-respecting conservative -- and, one would hope, any objective American not hypnotized by leftist propaganda -- is appalled at the economic and cultural carnage thrust upon the country by the Obama administration. Obama's removal from office is mandatory if the country is to be rescued from the pit toward which he is driving us with reckless abandon. Therefore, to maximize the chances of that happening, it would be helpful to know: what exactly motivates the president -- his head or his heart?
Levin and Prager are in apparent agreement that the progressive portion of America comes in two flavors -- intellectuals and, for lack of a better term, ordinary foot soldiers. The former consists of professors, lawyers, school administrators, Hollywood glitterati, liberal think-tank leaders, librarians, journalists, most media types, certain philanthropists, many clergy, and even some corporate moguls. These are people who are true believers in Levin's four utopian (actually dystopian) fantasies; people who are convinced that America's founding was based on flawed principles and that the country must be remodeled according to a more progressive image. The insidious nature of their venture is that they pursue their revolutionary goals using the language and tools of the Founding (the Constitution, the invocation of freedom, appeals to rights), but at every turn, they subvert founding principles to serve their revolutionary purpose. The danger they pose to the Republic springs from the transformational plans in their heads.
Progressives who lead with their hearts, on the other hand, tend to be "ordinary" Americans -- government employees, union laborers, schoolteachers and secretaries, cops and cab drivers, farmers, firemen and factory workers -- who feel that rich people have too much and that more of their wealth should be spread around. They've never read Levin's four utopian fantasies, and they rarely, if ever, think about the philosophical characteristics of progressivism or conservatism. Throughout their entire lives, they have been subjected to a progressive programming (really a brainwashing) carried out by their teachers, public officials, union leaders, media sources, liberal clergy, and even their parents. They are clueless as to the radical alteration that American society has already undergone. What they do know is: they are uncomfortable with perceived inequities in American society, and the government has had success in the past at alleviating the discrepancies, but much more needs to be done in that vein. They have been told, and they believe, that America's economic system -- i.e., free-market capitalism -- while it offers the opportunity for a few to amass great wealth, keeps most citizens -- like themselves -- in a perpetual state of stress trying to meet monthly bills, perform satisfactorily on the job, provide adequate sustenance for one's family, and find some time to enjoy life.
Moreover, such thinking infects the substantial portion of the population that does not consider itself progressive. As Prager relates, the pervasive liberal brainwashing to which all of America is subject explains how, despite the fact that only 20% of the people self-identify as liberal -- whereas 40% self-identify as conservative, and another 40% as moderate -- a hardcore, unabashed liberal like Barack Obama could be elected president.
Obama is clearly from the intellectual class, not a foot soldier. So the answer to the question posed in the title is presumably that his head is more dangerous than his heart. Ah, but here is a point that is mentioned, but not emphasized, in both books. Namely, the heart of an intellectual progressive is every bit as devoted to the progressive cause as is his head. Progressives are absolutely convinced of the correctness of their philosophy and the justice of their cause. Therefore, the legitimacy and necessity of the remaking of society that the intellectuals seek to engineer -- and at which they have been remarkably successful -- is so deeply ingrained in the fiber of their being that it is inevitable that their feelings about the cause are as strong as, if not stronger than, those among the foot soldiers. In principle, one can argue with and try to persuade a progressive of the error of his philosophy if his motivation is solely intellectual. But if the impetus is internalized and abetted by powerful feelings, then -- as anyone who has tried knows -- arguing with a progressive is a futile exercise.
So a final word to conservatives. When criticizing Obama, it is pointless to attack his feelings, preferences, or motivations. The feelings are ingrained and will not change. Moreover, attacks on his personality or character are likely to be a turn-off for "moderate" or undecided voters. Instead, it is Obama's progressive philosophy that should be squarely in the cross hairs. At this point, at least half the voting public recognizes progressive policies for the disaster they represent. Conservatives need only to convince a few more undecided voters of the danger posed by Obama's head -- and his heart -- should he gain a second term. By attacking progressive principles, and by providing beneficial conservative alternatives, Mitt and the GOP should be able to chase Obama from the White House without breaking a sweat.