Monday, August 24, 2015

Unwinding Obama's Transformation of America

In The Politico, old hand Jeff Greenfield in "Democratic Blues" told fellow Democrats that the verdict was still out on the "policy" of the Obama era. But the Obama "politics" had reduced the Democratic party to "its worst shape since the Great Depression—even if Hillary wins."

Now that I think about it I'm not too sure just what Greenfield means by "policy" and "politics." I suppose he means by "policy" the things that Obama has done with the government, and by "politics" his party's electoral fortunes. Of course Greenfield is writing for Democrats and bucking up their spirits by telling them that, just because the Republicans have captured majorities in both houses of Congress and the majority of state houses, not everything is lost. Historians could one day praise Obama for his controversial policy initiatives.

But I think that old hand Phil Gramm has a better grasp of the situation when he critiques the Obama "policy" in "How Obama Transformed America."

Obama "learned" from previous progressive failures that the way to push the progressive agenda was to hide controversial details that could provoke opposition, and then ram the details through with administrative and executive action. This was what Democrats learned from the abortive Clinton intitiatives. Gramm writes:
Americans have always found progressivism appealing in the abstract, but they have revolted when they saw the details. President Clinton’s very progressive agenda—to nationalize health care and use private pensions to promote social goals—was hardly controversial during the 1992 election. But once the debate turned to the details, Americans quickly understood that his health-care plan would take away their freedom. 
So the Obamis "learned" to hide the details, as in Nancy Pelosi's famous sound bite that we could find out what was in Obamacare once we had passed it.

But Gramm points out the flaw in this strategy.
The means by which Mr. Obama wrought his transformation imperil its ability to stand the test of time. All of his executive orders can be overturned by a new president. ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank can be largely circumvented using exactly the same discretionary powers Mr. Obama used to implement them in the first place. Republicans, who never supported his program, are now united in their commitment to repeal it.
It's easy to see where the Obama strategy came from. It came from the leftist revolutionary tradition, which is all about seizing power and then just implementing the leftist agenda without benefit of a "conversation." In the original formulation implemented by Lenin the seizure of power was accomplished by armed revolution and brutal suppression of dissent. In the Gramscian "long march through the institutions" it is accomplished by a kind of office politics writ large backed up by the "political correctness" culture that makes ordinary bourgeois ideas into forbidden hate speech. There's a good piece on the whole leftist process in the American Thinker here from Scott S. Powell of Seattle's Discovery Institute.

But in the face of all this gloom and doom, I remain optimistic.

I think that the leftist model is fundamentally flawed. It negates the whole idea of humans as social animals, for all it wants to do is to conquer and dominate; all it aspires to is making its targets into enemies. All it achieves is the silence of the gaol and the wasteland of places like the former Soviet Union, the Castro brothers' Cuba, and Maduro's Venezuela.

That's why I think that the current book on the 2016 election, that Hillary Clinton has a 60% chance of winning, is a fantasy. Obama and his acolytes have humiliated too many people, have broken too many laws, have ridden roughshod over too many settled agreements. Obama has turned too many neutrals into opponents.

The reason for elections is to confine the warring spirit to defined election seasons, and agree to disagree the rest of the time. The reason for seeking the "consent of the governed" is to keep the minority moderately happy. The reason for the government to obey its own laws is to prevent the victims of government power from forming a head of rebellion. The reason for the president to assemble bipartisan majorities for his legislation is to prevent the opposition from coming to power and repealing everything he has done.

The failure of President Obama to do this is a profound misunderstanding of the nature of the human condition and the roots of peaceable human society. And we know why. Obama learned his politics from Gramsci and Alinsky, which says nothing about cooperation and everything about fighting.

It is my hope that the American people will revolt electorally against the Obama and the leftist culture in 2016. That revolt will provide a chance to heal the social wounds inflicted in the Obama era.

If we don't heal the wounds now, then we will find ourselves doing radical surgery later. And that would be a human tragedy.

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