August 15, 2009
A Fundamental Disconnect
Hollywood and the media routinely offer up two standard portrayals of government officials -- inept and comical idiots or sinister characters. The latter is especially true of media depictions of NSA, CIA, and FBI employees, but both are quite typical of the reigning liberal elite's opinion of all government agencies and their employees: bureaucrats are either hilarious nincompoops or dangerous evil-doers, and amazingly enough, sometimes both at once. Hollywood seems to think that the government is either screwing up the country because it doesn't know what it is doing or it is destroying the country because it is trampling on the rights of its citizens.
However, the people who hold these convictions are the exact same people who want to turn over the operation of all the key components of the country to the government to manage. Health care, energy, education, the economy itself -- these and dozens of other critical features of American society should be directed, according to the Left, from the hallowed halls in which the bumblers and betrayers work.
These liberal elites, who are now in positions of great power in the nation, seem to believe that the politicians and bureaucrats who populate the federal government, are on the one hand part fumbling meatheads who can't tie their shoes and part evil plotters who want to screw John Q. Public. At the same time the left believes that those who run the bureaucracy should be entrusted with the management of virtually every aspect of American society. Is there not a fundamental disconnect here? What could possibly explain this self-contradictory faith in the power of the government to successfully solve the nation's problems? I will offer three explanations and then speculate as to which applies to the celebrity who now occupies the White House.
The first explanation is ignorance. The people of our nation have been subjected to an intense liberal indoctrination for so long that there are a huge number of them for whom the tenets of liberalism are so deeply ingrained that they accept without question the proposition that the government must address any problem that arises anywhere in America. Under a relentless assault from the liberal dominated media, educational establishment, legal profession, arts community, foundations, and even segments of the business and religious communities, many have succumbed to the brainwashing.
Consequently, they believe:
- FDR's New Deal saved us from the Depression rather than prolonged it;
- the Great Society helped to lift minorities out of poverty, rather than institutionalizing it;
- capitalism creates unjust, inequitable outcomes in the US, ignoring the fact that it has powered our economy to unimagined and unequaled heights of prosperity;
- government creates jobs by spending the tax payer's money, rather than preventing their creation because of the tax dollars pilfered from entrepreneurs;
- government regulations improve the functioning of our economy, revealing obliviousness to the enormous drag they impose;
- the rich don't pay their fair share, whereas in fact the "rich" pay the overwhelming majority of the income tax that Uncle Sam extracts, while the lowest 40% of income earners pay virtually nothing;
- the Constitution is a malleable document that serves as a guide to the making of law -- in fact, it is a binding document that can be changed only by a demanding Amendment process and the American republic has survived and prospered precisely because continuing generations have agreed to abide by the deal struck by our founders with the people;
- radical change not adherence to tradition, is the American way.
I venture that a large proportion, perhaps a substantial majority of the folks who voted for Obama fit into this category -- especially young people.
It is legitimate to ask how such hoodwinked people can accept the portrayal of the government as bumbling or sinister or both -- laugh at it if it is the former, be mortified by it if the latter -- and why does it not occur to them that it is lunacy to entrust their welfare to the bumblers and evil-doers?
I think the answer is to be found in the attitude teenagers exhibit toward their parents and teachers. The kids often see their elders as at best hopelessly square, out of it and even stupid and at worst as manipulating, tyrannical, and unfair. Most -- not all -- do not question the fundamental authority of their parents and teachers. The kids expect the adults to remove the obstacles that the youngsters encounter and the kids are willing to put up with the rules laid down by the adults because it is expected of them, because it is the natural order of things, and besides there is no choice. So too does the juvenile mass of brainwashed citizens view the authority of the federal government. They deride and lambaste it for its incompetence; they fear it for its omnipotence; but they accept unquestioningly its "legitimate" authority to control their lives.
The next explanation might be characterized as arrogance. Its practitioners understand that the government doesn't have a particularly good track record of solving the nation's problems. They recognize that previous government forays into health care, agriculture, housing, etc. have resulted in mismanagement, excessive waste, deleterious effects on the economy, fraud, and corruption. Nevertheless, they believe that the federal government is the correct mechanism to address the nation's problems and under their tutelage one (or both) of two things will happen. First, they will do it better. They will bring better design, planning, execution, and supervision. Or, it won't work any better, but they will profit personally from the results. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is chock full, from top to bottom, with these types -- the naive ones who think they will execute the liberal agenda more perfectly and the corrupt ones who intend to profit from the agenda, however it is implemented.
The third explanation is malevolence. This characterization applies to the hard core leftists who believe the classic American political, economic and cultural systems are rotten and must be overthrown. I am thinking of revolutionaries like Saul Alinsky, George Soros, Michael Moore, and, yes, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. They don't care that the government to which they wish to assign more and more responsibility is a combination of ineptness and corruption. So much the better; it will bring the system down more quickly. Radicals like these thrive on a crisis atmosphere (as admitted by Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel). They seek to create a perpetual crisis, which leaves the people panic-stricken and easily manipulated by those who, under the guise of addressing the dangerous ills they have identified, will divert more power to the government, and who are in fact at work destroying the system under the false cover of crises like climate change and health care. If they can enact universal, federally-controlled health care and the business-crippling cap and trade bill, their malevolent objective might be attained -- America could be so fundamentally changed that there will be no hope of returning to republican principles.
I believe the vast majority of Americans on the left fit into category 1, a substantial number fall under 2 and a small, but dedicated cadre occupies the third position. Into which category does the guy in the White House fit?
Like most of America, my acquaintance with President Obama is recent and superficial. That he occupies the White House is a testament to the uncharacteristic recklessness of the American people, who have installed therein a person they know precious little about. Is he the leftist radical his voting record suggests or the relatively moderate politician he seemed to be during the campaign? Everyone who interacts with him insists he is very smart. If so, it is impossible that the rationale for his leftist mentality lies in the first explanation: ignorance.
Throughout the campaign, my impression was that he was a number 2: arrogant. Yes, there was no denying his far-left voting record -- but he tacked right during the election and then he appointed a number of relatively moderate cabinet officials (to go along with the hard core leftists he selected as advisors and czars, to be sure).
But since the inauguration, the gloves are off and the trend is clear. President Obama is a leader of the malevolent, revolutionary forces in America who want to overthrow the system and replace it with a Euro-socialist, nanny State that repudiates much of American history, including the Constitution.
What is the evidence? Many of his opponents would cite: his promotion of cap and trade, which surely would cripple our economy; his drive for universal, government-controlled health insurance, which would make virtually all of us wards of the State; his foreign policy of appeasement and repeated apologies for American behavior; or his reckless spending, borrowing and taxing that will bankrupt our children and grandchildren.
For me it is as simple as this. I see no evidence that he loves America, that he (or his wife) takes any pride in the achievements of our country, that he subscribes to the idea that America, unlike any other nation, is founded on a political idea and is called to be a beacon of freedom to mankind. That is not Barack Obama's America. His new America will be a bizarre combination of France, the Soviet Union and Canada.