Dreams From My President

While others try to divine what really goes on in the mind of Barack Obama, all I know is what he says and what he does.  Thanks to The Daily Caller, we now have one of the best summaries of Obama's philosophy ever caught on tape, uttered by the man himself, and without a teleprompter.  He wants to quash our dreams and replace them with his.

For some reason, the part of this story that caught the most attention was Obama saying he "stole" the title of his book, The Audacity of Hope, from his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright (and actually listened to him).  But to me, what followed was much more important, alarming, and ultimately enlightening.

First, let me provide the complete quote so you have the context.  Obama was talking about what he learned from Rev. Wright.

He said, look, the easiest thing in the world to do is to feel cynical, easiest thing in the world is to find refuge in cynicism because there's so much good reason as you look around to feel dispirited. You open up the newspapers, you watch the news, there's war, there's poverty, there's ignorance, there's conflict, there's famine, there's strife, and so it's natural for many of us to at some point say to ourselves, you know what, not much is going to change.

The world is what it is and it doesn't make much sense to try to make it different. The best thing we can do is just look after ourselves, and protect our own little circle and make sure that we're making as much money as we can and pursuing our own private individual dreams but not really have a lot of confidence, a lot of faith in the possibility of collectively transforming the world.

And he said the hard thing to do, the thing that requires risk, the thing that requires a sense of boldness, audacity, is to hope, to recognize that somehow the world as it is is not the world as it has to be; that it's possible for us to recognize a stake in each other and to have mutual responsibility for each other and maybe not make a perfect world but to make it better for the next generation. And I loved that idea. I loved that idea in my own life because I thought that's a philosophy I believe.

Let's boil that down:

  • What Obama considers "easy" and "cynical" is "pursuing our own private individual dreams."
  • What Obama considers "hard," the idea that he "loved," is "collectively transforming the world."

I don't know how much clearer it could be.  What he considers undesirable is "private, individual," and what he considers lovable is "collective transformation."  He literally wants to quash our dreams, at least if those dreams are our own individual ones, and not his collectivist, transformative, and global one.

Obama loves the idea of putting the collective above the individual -- not just in the sense of "common defense," but in the very way we each carry out our lives.  A self-reliant person, pursuing her own "private, individual" dream, is the cynic without hope.  (Obama can read minds, apparently.)  To be on the side of the angels, you must be part of the collective, transforming the world.

Obama's words are alarming and scary to me.  I see tyranny emanating from their penumbras.  How is "the pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence all that different from "pursuing our own private individual dreams"?  Would Obama like to replace that phrase in the Declaration with "collective transformation of the world"?

But to many other people, those words speak directly to their hearts.  And that is, down deep, what I think separates "liberals" and "conservatives."

I once read a liberal who, when confronted with facts and data indicating that letting individuals arm themselves with firearms actually led to fewer violent crimes, said, "But is that the way we want it to work?"

Here the guy had a problem (violent crime) that was solved by freedom (letting people do what they want), yet that upset him.  Since the solution did not come from some kind of coordinated, collective action, he would rather live with the problem than solve it.

I, on the other hand, would be willing to live with the freedom, even if it meant marginally more violence.  I also think that the evidence shows that freedom actually does solve the kinds of problems Obama cites: war, poverty, ignorance, conflict, famine, strife.  I've written on that before.  But I confess, it's not the evidence that drives me; it's my values.  I value freedom.

Will liberals admit the similar, but opposite, thing?  They will accept only "solutions" that involve greater collective transformation.  This is evident in the latest budget negotiations, for example.  The Senate Democrats cannot accept any budget that isn't an increase over the historical norm.  Getting the debt down is a secondary concern.  Growing government, the embodiment of the collective, is the top priority.

I see two problems with Obama's collectivism (besides that it won't work, in the sense of solving the problems Obama thinks it will solve).  One problem is that it's not just Obama.  This idea of collective above individual seems to be held by a large chunk of humanity.  Obama's speech above is actually inspiring to many, many people.  And not just on some base level of vested interests or "getting mine," but in the more dangerous way: they actually believe in collectively transforming the world -- in replacing your dreams with theirs.

And that leads to the second problem -- the really big problem.  We non-collectivists do want to pursue our own dreams, and not out of cynicism.  Obama and the collectivists also have their own individual dreams, but those dreams involve collectively transforming the world.

Trying to be self-supporting, helping your kids grow up healthy and be ready for the world, and pursuing "dreams" like learning about the world and loving the people you know -- these are not enough.  You're not part of his collective.  You're not transforming the world in the exact way Obama thinks it should be transformed.

And that's why it is a big problem.  We cannot just live happily in two camps: we pursuing our dreams and he pursuing his.  Because his dream must involve us.  To the collectivist, you can't even have your own little country of individual dream-pursuers.  He wants to transform the world.

To add insult to injury, collectivists really think they are on the side of the angels when making those demands.  And to add further insult, they have the audacity to think they can read our minds.  Obama attributes my behavior, values, and worldview to "cynicism."  It's not cynicism; it's called healthy behavior.  It's doing your own thing, in the real world, with people you actually know -- not some abstract, global collective, doing whatever the heck "transforming" is.

If I had to guess, I would say 30% of the population is, at core, collectivist.  That is the real attractiveness of socialism, communism, Jacobinism, and other isms.  A lot of people actually do want it.  They yearn for it.  They think it is in a higher plane of consciousness.  To them, I am a cancer on the body of humanity -- a cell that won't join the body, the higher level.  My dreams are not worthy.  Their dreams are next to godliness.

The real problem is that these are core beliefs.  It's not about vested interests.  It's not about incompetence, stupidity, or character flaws.  It's not about cronyism.  They actually do believe in collectively transforming the world, at the expense of everyone's "private individual dreams."  And that scares the stuffing out of me.

Randall Hoven can be followed on Twitter.  His bio and previous writings can be found at randallhoven.com.