Peter Heck - columns - The Presidency That Saved America
December 04, 2010
The Presidency that Saved America
By Peter Heck
In fifty years, I have little doubt that we will regard the administration of Barack Obama as the presidency that saved America. No, not in the sense that Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and all the other media John the Baptists foretold, as they proclaimed, the coming of our political messiah just over two years ago. Rather, the history of our time will show that it was the radical nature of Obama's dogged devotion to a liberal progressive philosophy far out of the American mainstream that jolted awake a generation of apathetic and passive citizens just in time to save the republic.
Though that apathy has always been inexcusable, it was at least understandable. Our politics had become more theater than substance. In fact, voters reasonably began to view their choices at the ballot box as something akin to picking between airline food and hospital food: bland, insipid, uninspiring.
For all their posturing and crowing, the two parties had largely become mere reflections of one another. Seriously, how different were Bill Clinton's "triangulation" and George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism"? Candidates of either party who showed convictions contrary to the Washington establishment and challenged that establishment's control were labeled radical, and every attempt was made to marginalize them.
But Barack Obama changed all of that. For the last two years, the president has unleashed the most aggressively left-wing agenda he could muster. When the electorate began a backlash against his revolutionary designs at town halls and Tea Parties, he ignored them. And when they rejected Obama's ideology by throwing his party out of power by historic proportions in the midterm elections, he pretended not to notice, or that he was misunderstood.
All this makes little sense to those attempting to view Obama's presidency through the conventional prism of political leadership. But Obama is not a conventional politician. He is a radical ideologue. Obama is not a leader. He is a bitter partisan. And as odd as it sounds, that is exactly what this country needed.
It has been generations since Americans have been exposed to a more vivid depiction of the significant differences between the left's and the right's views of this country and its future. The delineation between conservative and liberal had grown hopelessly blurred to a majority of citizens. But Obama and his leftist cabal have been successful not only in demonstrating the frightening vision progressive liberals have of making America into a European-style socialist state. They have also managed to animate a vast conservative majority that has lain painfully dormant since the mid-1980s.
The distinction is glaring and, even for those who normally avoid politics, impossible to miss.
While Americans watch conservative Republicans like Eric Cantor explain that raising taxes on any citizens in the midst of a recession (particularly those relied upon to invest and expand businesses to create jobs) is foolish, they see President Obama proclaim that "we can't afford" not to raise taxes on a group of citizens he determines are too wealthy.
Besides the glaring proof this offers of the left's obsession with using divisive class warfare to gain power, it also reveals a notable difference in philosophy. While conservatives like Cantor believe money belongs first to the citizen and is confiscated by government, leftists like Obama believe money belongs first to the government. That government then lets select citizens keep some of it...if and only if government "can afford" to be so generous.
Further, when Americans open their newspapers, they are greeted with the wise counsel of Obamabots like Tom Friedman and Paul Krugman. Friedman's recent piece in the New York Times called the Tea Party movement "narrow and uninspired" while touting that "[w]e need to raise gasoline and carbon taxes to discourage their use and drive the creation of a new clean energy industry." Krugman, meanwhile, laments that the waste of nearly one trillion taxpayer dollars on a government spending bill meant to stimulate a still-stagnant economy wasn't enough, and it should be followed up with an even bigger second stimulus.
Everywhere they turn, Americans see that the left is offering higher taxes, less freedom, more debt and regulation. They simultaneously see the right offering lower taxes, freer markets, and fiscal sanity.
Voters' first opportunity to choose between those two visions occurred in the 2010 midterms. Their preference was unmistakable -- to everyone, that is, except Barack Obama. His recent pronouncement that "[i]t would be unwise to assume [the voters] prefer one way of thinking over another" reconfirmed that the president and his cohorts have no desire whatsoever to alter course and instead will spend the next two years butting heads with the newly elected conservative majority. This conflict is sure to make the distinction between the left and the right all the more clear to an engaged American public.
And with a 2012 election cycle that already sees Democrats poised to face even more devastating congressional losses (they are defending far more Senate seats than Republicans and could lose upward of thirty House seats due to redistricting), Obama's persistent, unapologetic left-wing crusade is shaping up to be the political equivalent to Pickett's Charge.
In the end, the era of Obama will do more damage to the progressive left than any Republican presidency could have ever done. For that, posterity will owe him a debt of gratitude.
Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. E-mail [email protected]
or visit www.peterheck.com."