March 6, 2010


Not the American Way

There is something way off balance in the character of Barack Obama. Something in the realm of zealotry, with a touch of megalomania, and perhaps an authoritarian impulse too. He combines  Alinskyite tactics and outlook with an air of self-assumed moral superiority in a way that fails to respect the usual, small 'r' republican limits on American presidents. All presidents, of course, think at some level that they know best about policy choices. But almost none of them (Woodrow Wilson perhaps excepted) were so willing to disdain, in pursuit of such radical policy upheavals, such intense and overwhelming public opinion as has been evident in the current health takeover attempt.
Grandiose plans are one thing. Most presidents fall prey to them. It's another thing entirely, though, to refuse to accept the ordinary republican restraints on implementing grandiosities without public support, and furthermore to do so by A) bending existing rules; B) directly violating multiple personal pledges; C) ignoring constitutional limits; D) directly lying; and E) demanding that other politicians sacrifice their own political careers.
A little humility would be nice. So would a sense that he answers to the public rather than to some self-proclaimed (and self-determined) imperative of history and/or call of destiny. What Obama seems to fail to understand is that his own, overblown self-assurance and self-mythologizing is actually hampering his own goals. One need not stretch too far to observe that one of the factors adding to public opposition to Obamacare is a growing public disquietude about the lack of responsiveness, the authoritarian certitude, and the zealous near-fanaticism of the government that would run the new health-rationing system -- all character traits as embodied by the president himself.
As Obama ignores public opinion while pushing for full-fledged Obamacare in one fell swoop, and as he insists that he knows best and that the public is too ill-informed to know what is good for it, he directly -- as the very symbol of the state -- reminds the public of what they distrust about government in the first place and of why they don't want government interfering in a realm as personal as health care. These feelings are especially fierce because Obama is trying not to change something with which most Americans are dissatisfied, but instead to change (and arguably take away) a system in which some four-fifths of the public remains generally satisfied with their own personal level of care.
For most Americans, Obama doesn't seem to be giving them something they don't have, but instead to be taking away something they already value.
Worse, he and the increasingly unpopular Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are doing it while hectoring the public, insulting (at least by implication) the public by belittling the public's understanding of the issue, and treating opposition as if it is guided by evil motives rather than sincere concerns.
Passage of this health overhaul/takeover under these circumstances would be frightening. The harm it would do the political system would be almost as great as the harm it would cause the health system. The American republic was designed to give a minority a way to slow down major changes buoyed by popular passions. It was not designed to give a minority the power to implement major changes against popular passions.
The Obamites are doing the latter. They are turning American checks and balances on their heads. They are using temporary parliamentary advantages for a permanent power grab. The Obamites are dictating to Americans rather than representing them. Revolutionizing, not just evolving. Ruling, not serving.
And it's not just on health care. They work against public opinion on matters of criminal justice, terrorist treatment, race preferences, bank bailouts and corporate takeovers, overall spending, domestic welfare requirements, fossil fuel development, missile defenses, advocacy of American interests (and pride!) abroad, and on the whole panoply of oft-unstated attitudes that cohere as American exceptionalism.
This is not the way the system is supposed to work. This is not the American government we grew up with. This is not the national ethos that we love.
Yet Obama pushes on, perfectly cognizant of what he's doing, intentionally upending the American Way. This is a form of mania -- megalo- or otherwise. And, by any and all legitimate means, it must be stopped.

No comments:

Post a Comment