President Barack Obama attacked “bloggers” like me today, blaming us for the recent crisis and imploring the rest of the nation to find a way to responsible compromise. Instead of rejecting outright what he was saying, I paused to consider whether he might be right.
Were people like me really at fault? Are we so busy stoking opposition that we are missing opportunities to find common ground? Do we dislike Obama that much?
I remembered how I was once a Democrat who filled my office fridge with sparkling wine to celebrate George W. Bush’s anticipated defeat in 2004, but that I vigorously, and publicly, defended Bush policies with which I agreed. No, I am not against compromise.
I thought about how eagerly conservatives had embraced Obama after his speech at the memorial service in Tucson–only to have his pledge of “civility” thrown in our faces.
Obama is open to compromise–as long as you accept his view of big government as a starting point. Similarly, he is in favor of reducing the deficit and the debt–as long as you accept spending at or near current levels. He is a champion of tolerance–as long as you are willing to give up the tenets of your religion in favor of his new policies. He welcomes debate–but only when there is nothing left to debate and he has nothing left at stake.
His attack on bloggers is revealing:
…now that the government has reopened and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do…
He pretends to be above politics, and casts everyone else as motivated by profit, not idealism.
And yet Obama’s own group, Organizing for Action, held rallies (see photo) and raised money off the shutdown. “We’re fighting for change–chip in $5 or more to support OFA today,” said one email I received Oct. 8, ripping House Speaker John Boehner.
Aside from his breathtaking hypocrisy, Obama’s attack reveals a very limited understanding of democracy, one in which debate only exists to serve the administrative dictates of the state.
Obama wants to shift the boundaries of political debate to exclude much of what American liberty once was and to embrace a redistributionist, social democratic model. There are two problems I have with that.
One is that Obama’s model does not work. Big government is almost never “smart, effective government,” as Obamacare is proving. And fixing big government has almost always meant making it smaller while expanding freedom.
The other problem is that I do not wish to live in a society where individuals feel they exist at government’s pleasure–that we ought to be grateful for “the air we breathe,” as Obama put it.
Unlike other immigrants, my family and I did not come from a place were we were doomed to poverty, but where we might have enjoyed great wealth. We gave that up because we preferred to live in a country where people are equally free.
I want to like Obama. But I cannot compromise with Obama because he is asking me to accept things about government that I know to be untrue, and because he wants to put beyond discussion the very things that must be debated.
I cannot find common ground with a leader who blames my freedom of speech for his failure to govern. That idea is the basis of tyranny, not democracy, and there is no room for compromise with that.