Barack Obama could have been any one of a number of liberal politicians – nothing about his policies or person differentiates him from standard leftist orthodoxy. For all the talk of change that accompanied the man into office, there was precious little of it, merely a continuation or expansion of big government, with usual attendant incompetence, corruption and unsustainability. Perhaps the only genius of Obama was the shiny new packaging of very old ideas, marketed as cool and hip, but still just as wrong as they ever were.
25 October 2017 will mark the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Communist Revolution in Russia, and one hundred million deaths later, their ideology still plagues mankind. Communism, socialism, liberalism, progressivism – whatever one wants to call it – is but a different label given to the same basic denial of human nature and the constraints of reality. Obama is just the latest iteration of man’s flawed utopian impulse, a kind of ‘get rich quick’ scheme that degenerates into poverty and totalitarianism.
We are told that the reason Obama was not more successful – a begrudging admission that he wasn’t – is due to Republican obstructionism, but what really did Republicans stop? Obamacare was allowed to proceed despite its dishonest marketing, deep unpopularity and stunningly incompetent implementation. The Stimulus Package funded every priority the Left could imagine, and failed to register an uptick in economic growth, despite a $800 billion price tag and the Vice President assuring us that “we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt”. With the financial sector meltdown, Obama had every opportunity to “fundamentally transform” it, yet the best he could come up with was to codify ‘too big to fail’ in Dodd-Frank, a guarantee of tax payer money for future bailouts, and a license for further reckless behavior.
The only “victory” the GOP managed to pry out of Obama’s hands was the budget sequester that Obama proposed (and later objected to), which cut the growth of domestic and defense spending by a modest amount. Doubtlessly, they are many unfulfilled dreams on the Left’s wish list – gun confiscation, massive cuts in energy use, a $15 minimum wage, forced integration of poor and middle class neighborhoods, etc. – but even a true believer couldn’t make a case that any of these would have reversed the basic economic malaise of the Obama years.
The truth is that Obama, like the rest of the Left at home or around the world, has long ceased to be interested in bettering the condition of mankind, and has become obsessed with power for its own sake, regardless of the damage done, even to those he purports to champion. By rewarding failure and punishing success, the Left has created a poverty-producing engine that delivers misery in the exact proportion to the resources thrown into it. Yet the take-from-the-rich-give-to-the
Can there be any serious doubt that had the tens of trillions of dollars spent on welfare since 1965, been allowed to flow through private charities, directed by concerned citizens, that the poor – to the extent they still existed – would be incomparably better off? Instead, the most vulnerable in our society have been fed into the grinding maw of the reward-failure/punish-success human shredder, resulting in multi-generational joblessness, the disappearance of fathers, and a whole host of social and criminal pathologies. We’re told that the people who designed the system that has produced so much misery are the people who really care – just one more lie that the Church of Liberalism demands we parrot.
If Obama had really wanted to deliver on his promises, it would’ve meant confronting the Blue State model of high taxes and high dependency – the mutual backscratching society paid for with other people’s money. It would’ve meant turning his back on Liberalism, and as a messianic believer in his own indispensability, he was never going to do it. In the end, Obama was just what his resume would’ve suggested: another machine politician, an interchangeable spare part that served the party, lacking in experience and talent, especially the ability to think for himself if it meant defying the orthodoxies of his statist religion.
Obama’s tenure represents nothing, save to prove that a majority of the American people can be persuaded – from time to time – to accept the narcotic fantasy promoted by the Left in its will to power, provided their deadly drug comes dressed in pretty new ribbons and bows. The free lunch America was sold turned out to cost us a lost decade of economic growth, a doubling of the national debt, and the deliberate trashing of our healthcare system; perhaps worst of all, we lost time to get our affairs in order before the tsunami of entitlement spending drowns what’s left of our vitality, and denies our children their birthright of freedom and opportunity.
The election of Donald Trump provides a narrow window to repair the damage caused by the Obama years, and by the “compassionate conservatism” of the big-spending Bush years before that. To succeed, he will have to jumpstart the economy, endure whatever the aging business cycle has in store, and address the massive shortfall in projected revenue and expenditures. He will need to reform Social Security and Medicare by placing hard limits on their growth via means-testing millions out of eligibility, a near impossible task made even more difficult by the doctrinaire socialist he replaces.
The author has worked on numerous statewide political campaigns in Virginia, South Dakota and Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in The Federalist, The Daily Caller and other sites. He currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area. Follow him on Twitter @PHGuthrie