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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Criticisms of Barack Obama

Photo by Pete Souza

Watching the inauguration of President Barack Obama today, I was struck by what an amazing country America is. Here we have one group of people with all the power, and they willingly and peacefully hand that power over to another at the decision of the electorate. A stable democratic system in the context of a liberal society (by which I mean a free society) can certainly be a blessing. It's unfortunate then, to note on this day of triumph for American electoral democracy, that we have used it to elect for ourselves a leader who is likely to wield more power than any who preceded him, and to do so in favor of an ever-expanding, more intrusive government.

President Obama ran a campaign on the theme of hope, using the slogan "Yes we can!" At a time when Americans desperately needed words of hope and optimism, Obama convinced America that he was the candidate of hope. We were duped. Listen again to the words of his campaign- it was a cynical campaign, utterly bankrupt of genuine hope. Obama's message to America was "No you can't! No you can't provide for yourselves. No you can't create new jobs and wealth on your own. No you can't thrive and prosper without handouts from the government. You are helpless and inept. You need a powerful, charismatic leader who is smarter than you are and knows what's good for you and how to spend your money better than you do."

The central note of the Obama-Biden Campaign was not hope, but despair. They capitalized on our fears and stoked them with alarmist rhetoric about our future. It was a lie of Orwellian dimensions- they said the exact opposite of what they really meant- and it worked. And as President, Obama and Congress are likely to continue saying together, "No you can't." No we can't keep the wealth we create; it will have to be taxed to fund Obama's make-work programs. No we can't choose how to save and invest our own money for our own retirement; the government knows better and will "keep it safe" for us in a Social Security account. No we can't voluntarily choose to be virtuous and care for the needs of the less fortunate; we will have to be forced to do it. And no we can't choose to be selfish; Obama is arrogant enough to force us to do what he considers to be the right thing.

Also consider Obama's staff and administration as further evidence of his cynicism. Selecting Joe Biden, a long-time Washington insider, as his running mate created a glaring inconsistency with Obama's campaign message of reform. Obama didn't have enough hope in his vision of reform not to select the same tired old faces from Washington to populate his administration, the same people who have been part of the same problem for years and even decades. The Obama administration looks eerily like the Clinton administration. At every level from his Vice Presidential pick, to his cabinet level positions, and down through the Executive hierarchy, Obama has failed to suit action to words in his hope for change and reform. Make no mistake- the same old politics are now at work in D.C. and Barack Obama is the same old kind of politician.

At a time of celebration over our new president, when an overwhelming majority of Americans approve of the Obama administration, I am proud to number myself among the minority of Americans who see increasing regulation, spending, inflation, and centralized power in the hands of a corrupt and inept government, and who mourn rather than celebrate, who grieve over the death of liberty and the decay of civil society.


  1. I think that people who voted for Obama because they sincerely believed that everything (or at least the important things) in the country are broken and that he's the most likely to fix it will likely be sorely disappointed.

    That said, I did vote for Obama, and it leads me to this question.

    Obama almost certainly believes that he will do his utmost to help the country and that he really is an agent for change. And if that's the case, then why fault him for the promises he's making? It's not like he's being dishonest.

    Granted, you don't think his policies will help (and will in fact most likely hurt) our country, but wouldn't the blame for those policies then be placed on those (like myself) who voted for him and not the man himself?

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if you agree with that statement as it seems to me as being very libertarian-esque (it's every person's individual responsibility to thoroughly research their candidates) so I'm not leaving this comment to begin a debate, but rather to qualify.

    No doubt you'll have a response of your own.

  2. Interesting. Please excuse my late reply, and thanks for your comment- it's very well thought out. I'm curious to know why you voted for Obama while recognizing he won't fix this country's problems. I'm guessing you think he at least won't worsen matters as much as McCain would have?

    To answer your first question, I definitely recognize that Obama thinks he's doing what's best. I'm not so shallow and partisan as to believe that he's some kind of villian who wants to hurt America. But all those good intentions are worthless if he paves a road to economic and political hell with them.

    I'm pointing out that his ideas are wrong, not because I want to condemn Obama, but because I believe his ideas are harmful despite his best intentions and I feel conscience and duty bound to say so and to persuade others that there is a much better way.

    I do agree with you that the people who voted for Obama share in his achievements or his blunders to some degree and are responsible for his policies to some extent. But ultimately I'm not interested in placing blame on anyone. I just want my country to be free, flourishing, enlightened, and happy.

  3. Oh, it's not that I don't think Obama won't fix any of our country's problems. I think he will do good for our country, especially compared to McCain.

    I just realize that it's simply not possible for him to deliver on every single campaign promise he's made because the office of President just doesn't allow him the power.

  4. Ah, I see. Well thanks for reading my blog and caring enough to offer a thoughtful comment. You're of course, welcome to comment anywhere else, even to voice your disagreement with my assertions.

  5. Im an African african whos keenly following the political & economic events in USA with interest. l note that USA is a much freer society than most nations & that considering what Bush was offering, how the economy was performing,what McCain represented with the hopeless Sarah Palin effect, Obama together with his proposals offered the best hope.

    Undoubtedly Obama needs our help in fine tuning some of the policies, to get things working again--the problem is that is is not in the interest of rival politicians to assist him but to denigrate, decampaign, demoralise & destabilise. What is really important is to point out errors, offer corrections & responsibly critic a current President till the next election. Come another plebiscite then stand up as a rival politician & challenge him with concrete alternatives. The tone of this commentary smacks of sour grapes & political challenge. l would rather welcome unpoliticised comments that ask genuine questions & offer viable alternatives not complain complain complain like all other losers.


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