Who Goes Obama?
In 1941, Harpers Magazine published a fascinating article by writer Dorothy Thompson titled: "Who Goes Nazi?"
Seventy years later, we're asking the question: "Who goes Obama?"
(Before the reader is shocked that this article dares mention "Nazi" and "Obama" on the same page, don't worry -- there will be no comparison of Obama to Nazis here. I will only mention that both fascism and modern liberalism are, at heart, ideologies that fall at the statist end of the political spectrum. So bear with me a moment.)
In "Who Goes Nazi?" Ms. Thompson thoughtfully described and evaluated the personalities of each of the various attendees at a gathering at which she was a guest. She explained:
It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one's acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi... I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis.
Like Thompson at her dinner party, the Obama campaign played a similar parlor game with the American electorate, as its strategists asked and then built a program around the question: "Who goes Obama?" Of course, any successful campaign endeavors to evaluate the personalities and motivations of potential supporters. In a recent American Thinker article, Zach Krajacic outlined the fact that Obama won because Democrats did a much better job than Republicans of "segmenting their market, targeting their potential buyers, and appealing to their emotions."
In the Obama playbook, "segmenting the market" essentially meant "community organizing." Although modern liberal philosophy is grounded in collectivism, progressives effectively mass their troops using division and agitation. The trick is maintaining voluntary cohesion and support, in a failing economy or security threats or disasters, among the various personalities in the parlor. (For example, imagine a dinner-party-scene where the Obama-phone lady was suddenly aware that Obama-money had run out, and she was seated next to Will Smith when he just heard he would be hit with a 75% tax rate.) But camaraderie is never the ultimate goal of the host and his fellow bureaucrats at their utopian party anyway -- their intent is to create and forcefully implement one-size-fits-all collectivist policies for their guests.
Divisive conversation on "Fairness" and motivational phrases such as "We can't wait," "Vote for revenge," "You didn't build that," and "Punish your enemies" were addressed to those in the parlor whom the campaign already knew would answer "I do" to the question, "Who goes Obama?" A helpful mainstream media provided the venue, orchestrated the background music, and perfectly coordinated entertaining distractions.
However, there's much more at stake in political parlor games than simply formulating targeted marketing strategies. Ms. Thompson endeavored to ask not just who, but beyond and to the more important question: Why? What was it that made some people, at a deeper level, more susceptible to the allure of such an ideology? She answered:
Their race, color, creed, or social condition is not the criterion. It is something in them.
Thompson explained her conclusion further:
Sometimes I think there are direct biological factors at work -- a type of education, feeding, and physical training which has produced a new kind of human being with an imbalance in his nature. He has been fed vitamins and filled with energies that are beyond the capacity of his intellect to discipline. He has been treated to forms of education which have released him from inhibitions. His body is vigorous. His mind is childish. His soul has been almost completely neglected.
Those chilling words were written decades ago, yet they seem to describe much of today's society. For a real jolt, reread Thompson's article, replacing Nazi wherever it appears with "Obama-supporter." Besides being a very politically incorrect exercise, the uncomfortable parallels are inescapable: both statist ideologies, besides being led by riveting personalities, seem to appeal to childish minds -- many of them highly educated -- whose souls have been neglected.
In a previous article I argued, on the basis of Diana West's brilliant book, Death of the Grown-Up, that American has become a nation full of adolescent minds disguised as mature adults. And in general, juvenile minds vote liberal, and mature minds embrace conservatism. By its very nature, modern liberalism, in the guise of "caring," treats citizens like children, creating a powerful, paternalistic government, which, as Tocqueville warned, seeks to keep its subjects in a state of "perpetual childhood."
It is an indisputable fact that our educational system -- reflecting Ms. Thompson's comments -- is thoroughly infected with progressive philosophy and indoctrination. If Thompson worried about an inhibition-releasing education in 1941, imagine what she would think, for example, of what Obama-Czar Kevin Jennings meant by "safe schools," or the recent activities at Yale, or the newest club at Harvard.
Also, one need only recall some of the "social issues" on display at this election to wonder at the neglect of our nation's soul. Free contraception, abortion (aka "health care"), gay marriage, legalized drugs -- could such concerns truly have been the carrots that drew so many to the polls? The video of the scene at the Democratic convention where three times the audience booed the mention of God and Jerusalem makes us wonder at the state of the attendees' minds and souls.
In addition, any message of sound economic policy and individual freedom and liberty falls on deaf ears when childish eyes are focused on enticing payouts and sizzling bacon outside the voting booths, or vote-lever-pulling fingers are tightly grasping their Big Government security blankets.
Obama's win did seem to indicate that we have reached a tipping point in the electoral parlor, with the majority of guests having Thompson's "childish minds" or neglected souls, lacking in self-control and inhibition, or selfishly looking for handouts -- all ripe for a powerful host to harvest.
If we merely concede that our nation's parlor now holds a majority of unchangeable Obama-supporter-types, conservatives may never win a presidential race again. The GOP might try to build a bigger parlor-tent by picking up its stakes and spreading leftward, further away from what the establishment seems to consider the party-pooping Tea Party and the far right wing. Such a platform might even appeal to a majority large enough to win some elections. But what will America have gained? A tent set up on the same economic and social-issues sand as progressivism will still sink, albeit a bit more slowly.
If we believe that a conservative platform is the remedy for our nation's ills, an extended version of Thompson's parlor game may provide the cure. Instead of hoping that Republicans can reach some sort of "compromise," conservatives should stand firm on our principles and reach out to the guests standing on other side. Just as sugary payouts and revenge at the voting booths fail to satisfy the tummy or the spirit, neither does a message of "it's the economy, stupid" speak to the soul.
Each of us should play Thompson's game in the parlor of our own community. There are no set rules -- anyone can play, and we might be surprised at how skilled we may become at making the connections. For example, how many self-described liberals do you know who, although they may not realize it, run their own households and lives with conservative and not progressive principles? Like parents who have given up the keys to spoiled children, many others are less than thrilled with the terrifying view from the backseat as the car careens perilously near the edge of an economic cliff. Many guests at the party who went Obama will someday soon (if they haven't already) wake up next to each other and wonder, "What was I thinking?"
Thompson didn't offer any advice on how to sway her fellow guests' minds. But we know the real ending of her story -- that ultimately millions of lives were destroyed and for a time, anyway, the powerful evil spawned of radical ideologies was put in check.
Some conservative writers have begun to wonder if our nation is in for a shock to its senses, from within or without, or a combination of both. A terrifying thought, and all the more reason to focus -- a day at a time and a person at a time -- on the battle line that's been drawn in our community's parlors.
We must go beyond asking, "Who goes Obama?" or even "What can we do to earn your vote?" We should stand ready to offer both an alternative and a hand.