As most readers of my columns know, I am no big fan of our President, Barack Obama. I voted for McCain, a vote that I cast knowing it had a snowflake's chance in hell of meaning anything, and it didn't. At the time, Obama was riding high on his rhetoric, his campaign pledges sounded great on the surface, but to me, these policies implied a dark direction for the future of the country, its economy and national security. For general election voters bowled over by the image of this smart, young, handsome candidate, implications of the policies espoused by Obama were merely glossed over by a supportive media refusing to ask any serious questions. Certainly, some voters knew that a President Obama would mean higher taxes for all, increased role of government and government spending, and a reliance on the international community for our security. "Some voters" being the key phrase in that prior sentence — the vast majority of voters don't take the time to really understand policies or their implications, especially when those policies are never deeply discussed (present company excluded of course).
Obama has now been in office since late January, and the media has had no choice but to discuss the implications of Obama's policies. While some of the policies Obama has forwarded have fallen with a legislative thud, others are downright scary. Thus far, it's hard to argue that the fledgling Obama administration has done much, if anything, right; unless you are a bona fide Kool-aid drinker. I wouldn't expect Obama to govern from the right. However, the direction in which he's taken the country is not in line with what I'd call a centrist, independent or even moderate Democrat view (full disclosure: I am center right, registered independent, though lately thinking of registering my disgust with the current administration by going Republican). As expected, Obama has been pretty clearly presiding over the country from a far left position. The only group which should be happy, liberals, is not satisfied that Obama has gone far enough on issues such as gay marriage, gun control and other liberal hot button issues. Of course, satisfied or not, liberals will stand by Obama because after all, (begin sarcasm) look at the mess he's inherited (end sarcasm). But liberals are a minority. The question is, now that we've been living in ObamAmerica for the last 5 months, if the election were held today, would Obama still win the presidency?
During the general election, many on the right with whom I spoke, citing their disaffection with McCain, were considering whether or not to even vote. The general view was, what's the difference between Republican-lite McCain, and seemingly moderate Obama? Of course, that was before Obama overturned the "Mexico City" policy, agreed to federally fund embryonic stem cell research, made "romantic" overtures to Chavez and Ahmadinejad while snubbing the UK and Israel, attempted to close Gitmo without a plan, and released the torture memos which described our tactics, while deciding to keep classified the benefits which justified America's use of enhanced interrogation to the world community.
Those in the middle with whom I spoke felt that after eight years of Bush, it was time to give the other side a try. That was before many trillions of new government spending, the public takeover of several private sector industries, expanded Americorps, the appointment of tax cheats and lobbyists, and the selection of judges based on their feelings as much as their constitutional adherence. And it was before Obama continued his campaign for the presidency well over 120 days after he was sworn into office.
Some of Obama's flaws are bi-partisan. Was anyone comfortable with the hubris and partisanship of "I won", especially coming from a supposed post-partisan candidate lecturing us to put away "childish things?" How about the endless war Obama has had with strawman positions, the constant and disingenuous mischaracterization of his opponents' views, or his lowering of the presidential office to fight with former Vice President Cheney or worse, the likes of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh? Obama's constant blame-gaming of inheriting the worlds problems, after running for two years for the privilege of serving as president hasn't been very becoming, no matter which side of the aisle you are on. Worst of all, since electing the first African American to the highest office of this great country in a sure sign of true racial indifference and equality by Americans of all stripes, racial and identity politics,as well as political correctness have once again taken center stage as governing principles, setting race relations back to the Affirmative Action wars of the 60s and 70s.
Elections aren't won on the extremes, and despite the claims by the media that the country has somehow moved to the left, Obama was elected because of a deep disaffection with Bush, as well as the reasons described earlier. And while electorally, Obama creamed McCain, the popular vote separated both candidates, and thus the electoral votes, by about 7 million votes. Lose the extreme left or the right, and it's fine. Lose the centrists, and the independents, and you'll lose the election.
The media does their best to cover for this fact and their man. MSNBC's Maddow and Olbermann are in full-on spin mode. Pundits on CNN regularly give Obama grades no less than a B when asked, and their polling still has him in the 65% range. I put no faith in the punditry; as for polling, ever since 2004, when the polls all showed Kerry beating Bush, until Bush won that is, it's been hard for me to really take these stats seriously; especially now, when despite all of these developments, Obama's numbers stay so stable, no matter his actions or the outcome.
Those who were true believers will always be true believers. But when you turn off CNN or MSNBC, or talk to anyone other than die hard liberals, you sense there is a change in attitude. Those who were willing to give Obama a chance are starting to regret their vote. Those who were indifferent to the election are now starting to get riled up. People are wondering what is becoming of this great land that has provided a lifestyle unparalleled in the world, not just for them, but for generations of their families. Will America still be the engine that has forever changed the world for the better if we adopt socialist, Marxist, collectivist policies? Will our children have the same opportunities that we had or will future generations merely have health care and an overbearing nanny state? This is the discussion that should have happened in the summer and fall of last year, but which is only just happening now.
Perhaps this is just my orientation. Maybe I am hearing what I want to hear. Maybe I am wrong, and the polls and pundits are spot on. Perhaps Americans really do support government takeovers of industry, high taxes on tax payers, and greater government control and involvement in our lives in the name of the so-called common good. After all it was Alexis de Tocqueville (or was it Alex Tyler) who wrote that,
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy."
If the polls and media are to be believed, this statement rings true. And if so, then that speaks very clearly to a possible permanent Democratic majority, and the fact that America as we know it is gone forever. A distinct possibility for sure, but somehow I doubt it.
Some Americans might prefer a nanny state, in which government takes a much more active role in taking care of us and our needs at the expense of individualism and personal achievement. But I believe that most Americans appreciate the ideals that this country was founded upon; the very same ideals that have driven prosperity for generations, and which have elevated American quality of life beyond that of most other countries in the world. Were the election to be held today, with the country seeing first hand what Obama meant by "hope and change," this American thinks Obama would lose by a small margin. We'll soon see if I am right – stay tuned for 2010 and 2012.