The Grapes of Liberal Winter

The swift currents of liberal promises empty always into the great desert of their futility. Someday, historians will dig into the ruins of the Obama administration and they will find in that moldering heap a record of political actions far removed from America's founding principles of government. They will walk among disasters. They will gaze upon the rubble of old propaganda mills and theaters of intolerance from a time of willful ignorance and civil strife; and they will try to understand our madness. They will wonder that democracy could have survived the vast entitlement plantations built by the Democratic Party for a thousand years of statist rule. And they will further discover in the dust and fallen shapes of the era’s progressive leadership a distinct layer of radioactive contempt for the American people -- all that remained of President Barack Obama's legacy of political failures.

History is not an active force directing humanity towards a state of perfection, but often an account of the vanity of those who believe that it is. And in writing the story of our unhappy times, the scribes will not be kind to Barack Obama. It cannot profit to wait upon the opinions of generations yet unborn, but it suffices for the moment to know that America's long liberal winter of darkness and decline -- the debilitating effects of social justice programming, its mythology, its political correctness, its necessary coercion, dishonesty, and error -- at last has ended.

Despite President Obama's public rhetoric, we never knew the man, for he used language to create a fog of misinformation around his life, his character and his intentions. He believed in class warfare -- the first weapon of Marxist ideology -- yet he spoke only of "hope and change," and there we listened. He brought a passion for political reforms that seemed irresistible, and many wanted to hear him; therefore, we gave him our trust, for we are a nation of good will. In this we were honest; he was not. We wanted to give this man a chance to succeed, to do the things he said he would do -- this man who spoke so well with words written by others. We remember his perverse ingratitude, as well as his arrogance, towards the working middle class, the very people who offered him their hopes for a better life. We wanted to believe in him; he did not wish to believe in us.

To be dishonest, to speak falsely to the American people, is to be irrelevant. There is no good instruction in a lie. When Mr. Obama tried to explain the historic Democratic losses following the 2014 and 2016 elections, he would not admit their self-evident cause in the failure of his policies or his serial abuse of the public's trust but rather attributed these losses to "a failure of messaging." In other words, the Democrats, in his opinion, would not have lost the governorships, the Senate, the House, and the presidency if only established liberal voices had more forcibly articulated his message to the voters, and he scolded journalists for their failure in disseminating and explaining it. The statement expressed his unfaltering commitment to the misinforming power of propaganda and the use of an ideologically aligned press -- a culture without conscience -- as its uncritical agent. More importantly, however, this unguarded assertion reflected not only his dishonesty but also his conviction that he was speaking truthfully.

The Orwellian principle of "doublethink" -- the ability to lie and at once to believe the lie -- extends throughout modern liberal culture as a pathological marker of self-delusion; and the left's irrational determination to reinvest in the programs of their discredited vision for America, even after an overwhelming electoral defeat, throws up a strong bulwark against the trust and common sense of the American people. Psychiatry informs us that self-delusion is the worst of all possible delusions; but when political enthusiasms carry self-delusion into crowds, into the tribes and unfinished minds of the collective, multiplying a single catastrophe by millions, then entire cultures will subsist on diets of false news and false science and the unintelligible false certainties they inspire.

These are the cultures that leftists now promote as a democratic ideal, but progressivism is a democratic movement only in its initial pursuit of power. As we have witnessed under the Obama administration, once progressive interests have achieved victory through democratic elections, every effect of legislation and executive rule-making authority works to organize targeted minority and ethnic groups into a state of absolute dependency on federal entitlement programs, a vote farming scheme that must ultimately destroy the democratic process.

Mr. Obama approached the presidency as an academic exercise, an opportunity to bend America over a template of social theory. He is like an islander who has just cut down the last trees on the island. One wonders what he could possibly have been thinking as he felled the people's only hope for further development. Here is cunning, possibly, as he might have thought the native population would come to depend upon his tribe for their necessity. Nevertheless, here is failure, certainly, whether of foresight, awareness, upbringing or plain common sense; but surely some counsel guided his hand. It is enough to know that this is how the left’s doctrine of power elevates force above principle. Centralized government, arbitrary authority, overregulation, and social engineering, all under the template of "social justice," mark the end of cultural energy and progress, never the origin of that happy egalitarian millennium foretold in progressive scriptures.

The Democratic Party is no longer a national party, having lost more seats at the state and federal levels under the Obama presidency than at any time since the 1920s. No one can argue that the president, due to his erroneous domestic and foreign policies, is not largely responsible for this political disaster. History has made a place for Barack Obama beside the abandoned portraits of fellow Democrats, President Franklin Pierce, whose political prejudices started the nation on a path to Civil War, and President James Buchanan, who lacked the necessary strength of character to confront the secessionist movement and who, like Obama, preferred to leave to the next president those difficulties for which he was so utterly unprepared.

If apology for America’s mistakes must fashionably precede an audience for the world’s opinion, then accordingly, America apologizes for President Obama. Twice, as president, he took up the oath "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States," and twice he laid it down. He never spoke for the American people; he spoke rather for an idea of unlimited government that the people could not accept. His one legacy achievement may be that he created the need for Donald Trump. It is a correction demanded by political justice -- that truth shall impeach the liar. Who but the people shall correct their government when it has fallen into error? The question informs us because it is honest. The surrender of liberty is a choice perpetually available to all free peoples. The object of progressive doctrine is to render that choice acceptable to the majority of voters. Should we forget this, or should we fail to understand the left's determination to create the political and social divisions necessary for their own success, then by our negligence we shall have forfeited the means of correction.

Philip Ahlrich can be reached for comment at