January 21, 2010
Reflections on Pres. Obama's first year in office
Politics is a dirty business and American politics is no exception. On a hot summer morning in 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr mortally wounded former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel. The animosity between them had been growing since the earliest days of the Republic and in many ways, typifies the entire political history of our nation. Alexander Hamilton was a Federalist. The Federalist party believed that in order for the United States to survive it would have to have a strong central government. Key figures in the Federalist party were behind the drive to name George Washington our first king, an offer Washington declined.
Now, here we are some two hundred and thirty years later. After a concentrated attempt by President George Washington Bush and his Federalist-inclined Vice President Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney to bring about a consolidation of power that would have made the Presidency a virtual kingship if not an actual one, a relatively unknown Senator named Barack Hussein Obama sweeps into office on a promise of "hope and change". The first thing he sets about doing is adding to the consolidation of executive powers initiated by his predecessor. Then he appoints a few cabinet members, gets bored with the whole Congressional approval process required for cabinet appointees, and hires three dozen "Special Advisers" instead, completely bypassing Constitutional processes specifically set in place to prevent the consolidation of power in the hands of a single man.
Not that it has done him much good. He lobbied for Chicago to become the next Olympic venue and was laughed out of town. The Nobel Prize committee awarded him their highly coveted Peace Prize, even though his only real accomplishment was becoming president. He campaigns on behalf of a couple governors only to watch them go down in flames, and tries to prove his personal political correctness by appointing a Latina to the Supreme Court only to have the country up in arms and charging her with racism, or if not racism, race-based narcissism. Fortunately for Pres. Obama, she explained herself well enough that congress reluctantly approved her.
Then he brings out his crown jewel, the one accomplishment he hoped would define his first year and put him down in the history books alongside such luminaries as Lincoln and FDR, universal health care for all!
To his great surprise the American people rejected it outright. Somewhere around 38% of the people support it, but well over half are horrified at the very idea. Pres. Obama's determination to allow the federal government to take command of one-sixth of the American economy is a grand dream worthy of Alexander Hamilton himself. However, the American people, who are supposed to retain all sovereign rights, have made themselves heard in Tea Party rallies, in millions of tea bags and tea bag labels mailed into Congressional Representatives, Senators, and even the Whitehouse. In blazing newspaper editorials all across the nation, in countless acidic blog posts, and in coffee shops throughout every major city. And health care reform supporters, though declining in the polls, are just as vocal and just as caustic.
And I am reminded of Aaron Burr drawing down on Alexander Hamilton. Their duel destroyed one life and ruined another. Neither man can honestly be considered the victor, even though one did survive. How far will Pres. Obama and his czars push this agenda the people have so thoroughly rejected? How much more anger and vitriol can be injected into the riotous American political spectrum?
For over two hundred and thirty years our nation has been torn between those who dream of emulating the pomp and circumstance of European nobility and those who came here with the express intent of avoiding pomp and circumstance, a desire so strong we have now fought two wars over the very same issue. Both the Revolution and the Civil War had at their heart the same conflict: government decree vs. individual rights. Much of the political vitriol we see in the campaigns for and against healthcare reform stem from this very same conflict tearing through the American psyche.
So here we are, a year after Pres. Obama's celebrated and joyous Inauguration. A defining moment in American history that Pres. Obama and his supporters had hoped would usher in a utopian age of social reform, social justice, prosperity, and content. Instead we have 10% unemployment, a divided citizenry, an overbearing Congress, radical pundits on both extreme ends of the spectrum declaring their own righteousness, and a President who has become, quite frankly, a laughingstock of epic proportions both at home and abroad.
This may be the lowest day in American history since the founding of the Confederate States of America. Although it lacks the violence of either the Attack on Pearl Harbor or 9/11, let alone Fort Sumter or Manassas, make no mistake, the election of Senator Scott Brown this past week is a watershed moment in American history at least as significant as the success of Pres. Obama himself. The same divisive and potential destructive impulses that led to both election results echo through the healthcare debate and are right now being settled once and for all in hearts and minds all across America. Battle lines are being drawn, contingency plans are being made, and the past 24 months have seen record sales of firearms and ammunition.
Once again the American nation stands at the precipice of self-destruction. The political culture in Washington is so disconnected with the American people that they are ignoring a full year of Tea Parties, declining poll numbers, shifting attitudes of political commentators, and three lost elections. If there was ever a time for Pres. Obama to prove his mettle as a man, as a lawyer, and as a leader, that time is now. To continue pressing forward with his Marx-inspired utopian dreams of "redistribution" through healthcare reform, carbon taxes, and nationalization of key industries will have only one possible result: the complete destruction of the Democratic party in the 2010 elections.
The saddest part, and the part that scares me half to death, is that like Aaron Burr surviving his duel with Alexander Hamilton, a sweeping victory in November by the Republican party as a result of kindling the flames of nobility versus commoner will bring the seeds of its own destruction. The United States of America cannot survive as a one-party nation, regardless of which party it happens to be. This is a nation that draws its strengths from the empowerment of the individual. Partisan politics such as we have seen for the past twenty years can have only one result, civil war. We are too stubborn, too violent, and too arrogant for it to be otherwise.
Pres. Obama and his staff must give up their utopian dreams and look for some kind of livable compromise that will meet the demands of the American people for fairness and economic reliability. He has had a full year in office now. He can no longer blame the excesses of the previous administration. If the climate is rife with potential violence it is because his administration has made it such.
Man up, Barack. Recognize that your dream has failed. Set aside healthcare. Set aside cap and trade. Set aside a social agenda that never belonged in the sphere of politics to begin with. Reduce the size and cost of the federal government. Hold the states accountable for the money poured into them.
The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.