Listening to conservative commentators, one can witness a kind of fear of Barack Obama that I’ve never encountered in domestic politics before. Sure, back in the 1990s, there were some conservatives who were fearful about the things Bill Clinton might do, given a chance, but the unmistakable terror some exhibit at the mere idea that Barack Obama would somehow be re-elected is astonishing to me. Is he horrible? Yes. Is he actively undermining our nation? Certainly. Is he a demagogue? You bet! Nevertheless, I do not understand the fear that seems to grip so many on the right side of the political divide. I don’t fear Barack Obama. He doesn’t impress me that much, and if he takes the country all the way to and over the brink, patriotic Americans will stop him. I’m not scared of Barack Obama. I’m not threatened by a temporary political hack. The thing that makes me fearful is the tendency among conservatives to imagine more power on the part of Obama than he actually possesses, but worse, the willingness on the part of establishment Republicans to cede to him such power. The power of the presidency doesn’t belong to any man, but to the people, and all it takes to stop any President is their will.
Fear is an important tool used to herd us in the direction of the establishment’s favored candidates. I am not driven by that sort of thing. What makes me fear for my country is the endless parade of candidates who are put up by the Republican establishment every four years who leave us with a choice between the wholly unpalatable and the unconscionably unpalatable. It’s like a perpetual taste test between excrement sandwiches where the only question is whether the prime course originated with a horse or a bull. What drives me to something like real fear is when I see the uncritical thinking that pervades so much of our culture. When I hear alleged conservatives saying that they think George W. Bush was a “real conservative,” I shake my head and walk away. There’s no point to an argument over the matter. He wasn’t a conservative, but for those who think he was, there’s no convincing them, no matter how many instances of his big-government statism his record provides as evidence.
I don’t fear Barack Obama because we already have an example of how to make a leftist President ineffective. Newt Gingrich showed us through determined leadership in the middle 1990s, and except for betrayals from the establishment wing of his own party, he might well have accomplished more. The problem is that the same people who destroyed his campaign this year by one act of dishonest infamy after the other are representatives of that same group that undercut him nearly two decades ago. Even at this late date, with Gingrich effectively out of the running, still there are attacks by the Romney campaign on Gingrich. Why fear Barack Obama? With “friends” like this, who needs enemies? Still, Gingrich showed us what we can do by his example in 1994. To do it, we will need to change the face of the Senate. That’s where Gingrich ran into the most trouble, and apart from our tepid House leadership today, I think this is where we must begin.
We need to eject RINOs like Dick Lugar from the Senate, and send in conservatives like his opponent Richard Mourdock, and just as Kay Bailey-Hutchison is departing the Senate, I will be happy to send Ted Cruz there rather than establishment tool David Dewhurst. I was a bit astonished, after his appeal to Tea Party types, to see Rick Perry endorse Dewhurst. Of course, Friday, he also endorsed Romney. I guess we know all we need to about that, but it’s another example of our problem: We need to defeat not only Democrats who are holding Senate seats, but also a number of Republicans who shouldn’t be left in charge of anything. You see, we don’t need the Presidency to run the country. We merely need a large enough majority in both houses of Congress, but that will still only help us if they’re not a pack of establishment types. While John McCain came out to endorse Dick Lugar, Sarah Palin instead endorsed Richard Mourdock, continuing to demonstrate that one needn’t have a title to be effective, and we need more of that kind of leadership from high profile conservatives. From the Republicans’ presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney? Silence.
I don’t fear Obama, but if you want to see me afraid, observe my reaction to the wasted effort the GOP establishment has made of the Tea Party’s victories in 2010. There was momentum and vigor, but by a long list of sorry surrenders, Boehner and McConnell have sapped the energy out of the movement. I fear that the Tea Party waited and waited for a Presidential candidate to emerge who would carry their banner, and when one didn’t appear, or at least didn’t stick around, and while the establishment undermined conservative alternatives to Mitt Romney, the Tea Party seems as though much of its energy has been spent. I hope I’m wrong, but with Romney emerging as the probable nominee, it’s hard to imagine the Tea Party getting very excited. Who can blame them? The establishment of the GOP is intent upon giving us a guy who lost to Ted Kennedy by double digits in 1994, a year Republicans made huge strides and took both houses of Congress. Do we expect to defeat Barack Obama, and even if we do, to what end?
I don’t fear Obama because I know that he’s just one more step down a path our country and culture has been following all my life. If it wasn’t Obama, it would be somebody like him. If it wasn’t Romney, it would be somebody like him. They fit their respective templates, and they fulfill their respective roles. We’ve been railroaded into a notion of America that is top-down, and I simply don’t buy it. There are three-hundred millions of us. Do you really think Washington DC can impose anything on us that we(or some sizable number of us) refuse to do? The problem I see is that the longer we let this fester, the more foot-soldiers for the cause they breed. Do you really wonder why neither party is serious about controlling illegal immigration? Do you really wonder why it is that our social safety nets are encouraging more of the same, now largely hammocks in which too many people recline endlessly, while you work like rented mules to carry their burdens?
Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t believe we need a third party. I’d be happy with two. Unfortunately, from my point of view, I’m finding it impossible to discern much difference at the upper echelons, apart from the much too rare sort best exemplified by Sarah Palin. The establishment in DC plays both sides of the street, and neither side is composed of conservatives. This whole system is full of corruption, and it’s not because the system was built to be corrupted, but because we the people, by our shameful inattention, and our general unwillingness to do our homework have left the store undefended, the till untended, and our alleged ‘public servants’ unaccountable. When I say “we,” I don’t mean you and I, though we surely should do more, but I look around at the popular culture, and I note with dismay that there are hundreds of television channels available, and apart from C-Span, there are perhaps a dozen or so that cover public affairs, politics, and political news, and none of those garner as many viewers as the average prime-time sitcom.
If you want to know why America is in decline, you need only observe the priorities of most people. The amount of time daily that most Americans devote to public affairs is minuscule. Most of them can’t recite so much as the preamble to the constitution, and few can recite, verbatim, any of the amendments, even the first ten. Don’t ask them to provide from memory some notion of the structure of the constitution, and don’t ask them to tell you anything about the enumerated powers of Congress, the President, or the courts. As long as this remains true, there is no chance to reform the country. You and I can go to Tea Party rallies, and the GOP establishment will do its best to co-opt them. The broad body of the American people remains unmoved, and nothing short of catastrophe is likely to move them, but as with most such things, the catastrophe will be evidence that they’ve been roused from their slumber too late. We say we believe in citizen-legislators, and the form of self-governance our founders gave to us, but too few of us who are able step forward to take the risk.
On the other hand, I don’t fear Obama in part because I know that common sense will eventually trump him. A good example of this is the proposed regulation out of the Department of Labor that would have made it illegal for anybody under 18 to perform certain chores or work in certain jobs in an agricultural setting. The backlash was so strong, even among Democrats, that the Obama administration actually rescinded the proposed regulation, at least for the time being. The administration and the Department of Labor were deluged with a huge number of tersely worded communications from across America telling them to back off or else. One farmer I know locally, whose two sons routinely help him operate tractors and so on actually called and told some government stooge in Washington DC that he was free to come and impose his regulations if he thought he could. Ladies and gentlemen, there are three-hundred millions of us. Even if fully half have “gone over to the dark side,” the government can’t impose anything on the rest of us if we refuse. People wonder why I don’t quake in fear about Obama, or any other tin-pot dictator who might set up shop in DC, but this is the reason.
A government loses its legitimate claim to authority at some point, and small incidents like the backlash over farm labor rules is just one such instance. Another bit of evidence comes in the form of gun and ammunition sales, still at record levels these last three years as people prepare for…come what may. Sure, it’s only a small fraction of Americans who are preparing to any substantial degree, but that’s still a goodly number. As they liquidate debt, pull assets out of markets, buy durable commodities and stored goods, and make ready for the possibility that this society may break down. The core that keeps this country afloat is doing what it has always done: Through prudence, thrift, and industry, they are preparing to the best of their ability for the worst that the world may throw at them. They don’t fear Obama either. Like me, they’re more inclined to fear the legion of unprepared network television viewers who will be standing there with one hand out-stretched, gun in the other, issuing pleas for help in the form of demands, if and when things go even more badly for our country.
The thing we must all remember is that as bad as Obama is, he is temporary. He may do this or that, and he may make a wreck of things for the nation, but he’s temporary, and there’s nothing he can inflict that we can’t undo. The only thing that makes a guy like Obama dangerous are the people ostensibly on our side who seek to collaborate with him. It’s the moderates who undo us each and every time. I offer the debt ceiling debate of last July to any who doubt me. No, I don’t fear Obama, bad as he may be, nearly so much as I live in terror at the prospects of the next surrender of the Republican establishment. That’s what makes our situation seem hopeless. Who among you harbors the delusion of John Boehner riding in to save us? Mitch McConnell? Mitt Romney? That’s what demoralizes our conservative activism. That’s what cuts the heart out of the resistance. We won’t be delivered into communistic despotism by Barack Obama, but instead by some gutless cabal of establishment Republicans hurriedly cutting a deal to save their own necks, thereby damning the rest of us into servitude. It is ever the betrayers, the surrendering class, clamoring to hold onto some vestige of what they see as their rightful place, or even merely to save their own hides. I see this as the most pressing issue we face. Barack Obama is only possible because of the sell-outs.
For all appearances, Mitt Romney seems to be part of that class of Republicans, and if you ask me what it is that I fear, it is that once again, we will be saddled with a nominee who is not one of us, doesn’t understand us, and doesn’t see the world from the point of view we mostly share, out here, where the country is made to work by the choices, the goals, and the devotion of millions of individual Americans, each working to better his or her own life, and the life of their families, but actions that also redound to the benefit of the nation at large. When I listen to Romney, I am left with the unmistakable impression that I am hearing a man who wants to rule over me, the same as Obama, but with slightly different aims. I hear a man who is speaking to collectivized notions of American greatness that defy 250 years of the history of individual achievements linked by the consent and volition of the achievers. What I hear is: “New boss, same as the old boss.” If you tell me you fear Obama more, I can’t help but wonder why. Nothing is more terrifying to me than the thought that Mitt Romney is the best we could do in the face of Barack Obama’s four years of rampant destruction. If true, it may mean we’ve already lost the country, and there is nothing about Barack Obama so frightening as that possibility.