A Rude, but Necessary Awakening

Friday, February 15, 2008

Editor's Note: This far ahead of the election, it is a little early to discuss voting strategies, but given what I know now of the candidates and current trends, I suspect that I will be voting for a Democrat for President for the first time in my life.

There is a slew of articles about Barack Obama heading today's link list over at RealClear Politics, the first -- which read in this morning's Houston Chronicle -- being by Charles Krauthammer.

Krauthammer concerns himself with the cult of personality that seems to surround the freshman senator and his youthful, trendy following, and whether his spell will survive the closer examination he is now (finally) receiving as a front-runner. He ends with the following prediction, with which I agree.

Democrats are worried that the Obama spell will break between the time of his nomination and the time of the election, and deny them the White House. My guess is that he can maintain the spell just past Inauguration Day. After which will come the awakening. It will be rude.
The fact that the Democrats are worried that the spell will break before the election is troublesome -- and symptomatic of the fundamental problem both parties pose for America.

A real concern for what is best for America would have been manifested by the Democrats examining Obama very closely themselves long before he built up such momentum. But then this would have further entailed them questioning many of their most fundamental premises long before even that. (Some more deliberate Democrats have begun looking at him in more depth, but it may already be too late for them to stop him if they are dissatisfied.)

Like the Republicans, the Democrats adhere to the morality of altruism, although they still (slightly) more consistently accept its political consequence of collectivism, which ultimately requires government force to be directed against those individuals who must be immolated for "the greater good". And if one's political ends require forcing others to do one's bidding, one will become primarily concerned with obtaining and wielding political power.

And so we see the Democrats blindly jumping onto the "Obamnibus to Victory" (If I may join the neologism game.) without regard for whether all this talk of "change" really represents anything new or good, while the Republicans have found themselves with a candidate many openly despise, but for whom they will ultimately circle the wagons since he's "one of our guys".

What to do?

I have expressed the opinion here before that the Republicans, hardly standard-bearers for a proper government that protects individual rights when they are in power, are more useful to the cause of freedom as an opposition party, as we saw in the early years of the Clinton Presidency when they stopped socialized medicine. I have also noted that when in power, as the early years of the (second) Bush Presidency have shown, the GOP is now a party of big government. (And perhaps being out of power might cause them to re-think that position.)

Obama promises to attempt to unleash a body blow against the economy if elected:
Obama unveiled much of his economic strategy in Wisconsin this week: He wants to spend $150 billion on a green-energy plan. He wants to establish an infrastructure investment bank to the tune of $60 billion. He wants to expand health insurance by roughly $65 billion. He wants to "reopen" trade deals, which is another way of saying he wants to raise the barriers to free trade. He intends to regulate the profits for drug companies, health insurers, and energy firms. He wants to establish a mortgage-interest tax credit. He wants to double the number of workers receiving the earned-income tax credit (EITC) and triple the EITC benefit for minimum-wage workers.


The Wall Street Journal's Steve Moore has done the math on Obama's tax plan. He says it will add up to a 39.6 percent personal income tax, a 52.2 percent combined income and payroll tax, a 28 percent capital-gains tax, a 39.6 percent dividends tax, and a 55 percent estate tax.
And our "alternative" is the green, national servitude-supporting (Why coin terms with just Obama's name?), anti-free speech McCain!

Ignoring, for the sake of argument, how much McCain will enable religious conservatives to continue building strength within his party (which may make him worse than Obama), there is no substantive difference between these candidates, except that we know McCain to be against freedom of speech (which makes him worse if Obama does not also oppose freedom of speech).

Now, with Obama openly stating that he favors big government and perhaps also having questionable patriotism (But see the comments.), while McCain, hiding behind the flag as a war hero, smuggles in big government when he isn't openly moving his party in that direction, who will do less harm as President? The one more likely to be thwarted by stiff opposition and, when successful, to not easily direct the blame onto what is capitalism in our political-economic system.

That man, I am sad to say, is Barack Obama. It is sad that with the prospect of John McCain being President that we have to hope for an accident in the form of a cult of personality -- or a Michael Bloomberg run -- to come to the rescue.

This election is shaping up to be an Obamination, pure and simple. Let's just hope that we do wake up come Inauguration Day.

-- CAV


: Added parenthetical comment regarding Obama's patriotism.


Anonymous said...

One more argument for supporting Obama, which may at first seem counterintuitive -- the war. The United States won't be able to muster the will to act decisively against Islamic totalitarianism while deeply divided at home. At this point, half the country is in utter denial about the problem, because they consider it a Republican war. We will never be able to solve the problem until we convince that half of the nation to take ownership of it, and that means a Democratic administration. A Republican can't do it. Nor can Hillary Clinton, because she's too repugnant to the right.

Granted, Obama is likely to engage in revolting and dangerous appeasement and surrender. But explicit surrender is arguably superior to our current policy of losing the war by half-measures. And those bad consequences coming on Obama's watch would hopefully educate the left half of the public about the reality of the problem.

Like you, I feel sick that things have come to such a pass. We face dark times. But for the reasons you cited, plus the above, I'm currently planning on voting Democratic for President for the first time in my life. (Then vomiting in the bushes afterwards.)

Gus Van Horn said...

Too bad we can't vomit ON the Bushes after we vote.

What's even worse is that long-range, there's the whole McCain enabling the Religious Right to consider above and beyond what I DID talk about!

This election is all about stopping McCain and it would be all about stoping the Religious Right if it weren't -- and although I consider Obama the more viable of the two Democrats, I wouldn't bet on him beating McCain without the help of some third-party type who appeals more to conservatives than leftists.

Anonymous said...

Sigh, I guess I'm turning into the Urban Legends go-to guy in Objectivism. Dittos to your concerns about Obama. But the "Obama is unpatriotic" meme is really misleading. For one thing, there's very little we can tell from that photo of him during the national anthem:


He's put his hand over his heart on plenty of other occasions, and it's not clear to most people what the rules are for this (it's not the pledge). Note that he's also on the edge of the stage where he can't see what the other candidates are doing.

As for the Che flag, that's pretty bad, but of course it's just one of his underlings displaying that. This doesn't let Obama off the hook entirely--and God knows that you can't be a real patriot unless you acknoweldge the founding principles. But "guilt by association" seems like a relevant charge here.


Gus Van Horn said...


I did see (I think via Instapundit) that the Che flag was flown by a campaign staffer, which is why I didn't make a big deal of it, although it most definitely does not get Obama off the hook.

I did not know one way or the other whether the failure to place his hand over his heart was a gaffe, which is why I used the word "perhaps".

I probably should have looked into that, but knowing one way or the other is, in a sense, irrelevant. Even if Obama DID habitually not place his hand over his heart, he'd be the one to choose over McCain.

Heck, even if he were so indifferent as to not care, he likely would be.

In any event, I do appreciate your taking the time to fact-check and post the comment.


Burgess Laughlin said...

I remind myself that a proper government protects individual rights, especially the basic rights of life, liberty, and property--while following the restrictions of a written constitution.

I do not object to "big government" nor do I yearn for "small government." Size of government is inessential. Acting on proper principles is the essential characteristic of a proper government. The question of efficiency--size--comes later.

I am concerned that focus on the size of government--even if only in a label of convenience--detracts from the key issues:
1. Which side most supports individual rights?
2. If there is no basic difference between the sides, then which side represents the greater threat long-term?

Gus Van Horn said...

"[F]ocus on the size of government--even if only in a label of convenience -- detracts from the key issues."

That's a good reminder. Anarchists are just as much enemies to freedom as are those who would want a police state. Both would unleash brute force against individual citizens if their ideas were implemented.

SecFox HQ said...

My mind's been made up on who to vote for for quite a while now. Naturally, I'm concerned about the dismal choice between a slothful, slow bureaucratic dictatorship or a fervent religio-fascist one. I'll take the former, thanks very much.[Obama may very well be a mixture of these]. Although both are still a ways off, they are appearing over the horizon as we speak. I prefer Hillary over Obama, but that doesn't matter, as I will vote against Republicans at all levels, on philosophic grounds, period.


Gus Van Horn said...

Between Obama and Hillary, I think the question as to who is less dangerous boils down to (1) Is Obama more of an empty suit or more of a religious nut, and (2) if the former, is that less bad than having Hillary?

Burgess Laughlin said...

Here is the metaphor that makes voting decisions easier for me:

Imagine a passenger train from 50 years ago. It has a locomotive, passenger cars, and a caboose at the end.

Now imagine the whole train going backwards, with the locomotive driving the train "forward." The presidential candidate is standing at the tailgate of the caboose, waving to the people on the side of the tracks, as he goes by. His supporters are in the passenger cars behind him. At the end is the locomotive.

Now which element of the train is most important? I would say the locomotive. That is philosophy as manifest in a social movement. The candidate in the "front," the caboose, is mainly an effect, not a cause. (If he takes power, he will become a cause, to some degree.)

If that analysis is right, then I will, for the first time in my life, vote straight Democratic. Better to vote for self-destructing disintegrationists than the more energetic, more articulate, and more determined misintegrationists of the Christian fundamentalist party, the Republicans.

Gus Van Horn said...

I like the metaphor, but am not so sure I agree with the advice to vote for Democrats all the way down the ticket.

To the extent that a Democrat president can be a cause, it strikes me as prudent to make him as marginal as possible, by taking advantage (via divided government) of the fact that our government is designed to get in its own way.

Sure, the Democrats are self-destructing, but they seem likely to take the rest of us down with them if they acquire that much power.

Anonymous said...

There is a kerfuffle going on right now about Obama allegedly re-using someone else's words in his speeches, without attribution.

What a comment it is on our times that people should notice the re-use of some words, while failing to notice his ongoing re-use of the same old ideas.

Gus Van Horn said...


And that observation made me laugh almost as much as I did when I looked at the front page of the local paper's lifestyle section to see "Youthquake", three teenager backsides in plumber-pants with campaign buttons on (Ouch!), and some blurb about how youths who want change are set to get it in this election.

Um. Sorry. Given the choices, it's already too late!