…and we haven’t had one for six years.
This isn’t a partisan statement. As a Republican, I can look at past Democrat presidents and there is no question about their cultural connection to the country.
Bill Clinton was unquestionably an American president. He had some political ideas which were egregious, he was far too fond of the Western European social-democratic model and we still don’t know how he ended up in Moscow in 1968. But culturally, Bill Clinton was unquestionably American. And that’s why when the American people rose up and told him in 1994 that the hard-Left policies he was pursuing in his first two years in office weren’t acceptable and blew his people out of Congress, he moderated his stance and governed from the center. Clinton loved America and for all his moral failings and degeneracies, he was at least faithful to its core institutions in the main.
So was Jimmy Carter. Carter was a terrible president, and he has been an increasingly bitter, destructive and unhinged ex-president we all wish would just go away, but Carter’s time in office was a failure because he was a blithering incompetent and a terrible leader. Carter didn’t hate the American people and he didn’t have clear contempt for the country’s institutions while in the White House (whether that’s still true is a question worth exploring at another time).
Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were all certainly American presidents. They had an unquestionable love for the American people and the country’s traditions even though many of their policies were destructive to both. Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb on the Japanese, for example, was one of the most profound acts of patriotism in American history – by dropping those two bombs Truman saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of young American men who would otherwise have had to re-enact the Normandy landings and then suffer through Iwo Jimas and Saipans on steroids for weeks and months, if not years, before killing the requisite number of Japanese at close range to end that war. That suffering and death would have spared Truman the loss of his moral standing; he’s of course a monster for dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but you’ll find few veterans of the Pacific who disagreed with his decision and don’t thank him for making it.
Those were American presidents. They might have been ultimately quite wrong in instituting destructive and stupid policies like the Great Society, the New Deal, the Department of Education or the Vietnam War, but none of them could be seen as overt sabotage of this country’s culture and traditions.
And then there is our current president. Who is not.
Barack Obama holds the office, and he serves respect as such, but in no way can he be seen as an American president.
This has nothing to do with his race, mind you. Black Americans are as culturally American as white Americans are, and the fact Obama is the first president of African ancestral heritage or, for that matter, parentage makes him no less American.
This is about culture, not race. Culturally, Obama is not American. Even to the black community this should be obvious.
After all, he didn’t spend his childhood and early adulthood in the American experience. Obama was a kid in Indonesia during his formative years, and when he was brought to America he lived in Hawaii, which is the least American state in the country, and reared by people – his grandfather and Frank Marshall Davis, most specifically – who fundamentally disliked and disparaged the American experience. He marinated in cultural alienation by his own choice all through his college years and then he hung around a bunch of people like Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi as he was beginning his professional and political life.
When you understand this, you can recognize two things about Obama. First, the understanding that the man in the White House is not culturally American but rather a “citizen of the world,” if you’ll accept that trite and self-indulgent status as a description, explains much of his character as president. And second, it shows what a profound threat an Obama unbound by the prospect of electoral rebuke can be to the country.
After all, a man who fundamentally distrusts and disrespects American culture is a man who will engage in the conceit that because it’s politically perilous for his opposition to do what it takes to stop him he’s free to do things like executive amnesty – or to force Obamacare on the American people – he’s doing the right thing by proceeding with them. We expect that an American president would recognize that the sanctity of our institutions is more important than his policy proposals or political goals. But with Obama, the destruction of American traditions and institutions is a political goal.
Because he doesn’t see himself as an American. Not in the sense most of the rest of us do.
Take Obamacare. There was never a major domestic policy initiative in American history undertaken on a partisan basis. Constitutional amendments, entitlement programs, civil rights bills, the conferral of statehood – all were implemented after some semblance of bipartisan accord. In well over 200 years it was understood that without bipartisan consensus a fundamental change in American governance was not practicable. Because to attempt such a move would be violative of the country’s institutions and culture – and those are more important than political goals or policy initiatives, no matter how grand.
But Obamacare was too important for Obama, and it’s still too important. Why? Because for him the mountainside down which the country is sliding into socialized medicine is something Obama’s political team has been pining for in America since Vladimir Lenin installed it as a central tenet of Marxist governance and the American Left became deranged with envy. That the American people didn’t want Obamacare when it was passed and don’t want it now, that men like the detestable Jonathan Gruber had to be brought in to weave a web of lies in order to drag the constitutionally stillborn health care law over the finish line and that the law’s implementation has been the single most problematic and laughable endeavor in the history of public-sector civilization…none of these matter. Obama presses on, and he is willing to drive the government into a shutdown in order to keep a Republican congressional majority larger than it has been in the better part of a century, a majority elected in large part if not primarily to repeal Obamacare, from doing what the voters have instructed and repealing it.
And now, executive amnesty – which is not only an affront to the legal and constitutional tradition of the country on a scale possibly larger than Obamacare, but a direct assault on the nation’s very character. Obama is proposing to change our immigration laws by executive fiat, something which has never been done in the history of the country. It is a bright-line impeachable offense such as has never been committed in the country’s history. But Obama is willing to do it anyway, because for him the fundamental change that amnesty for tens of millions of illegal immigrants both already here and those sure to deluge the country in the weeks and months after the amnesty is granted is a prize worth its price. For Obama there is no dishonor in impeachment – he doesn’t believe in the legitimacy of the opposition to his policies. Obama has said time and time again that “if Congress won’t act, I will” on amnesty, disregarding the fact that Congress hasn’t acted because we don’t have a national consensus on immigration policy outside of securing the border, which he refuses to do. And as such, Obama’s calculation is that whatever short-term consequences might befall him as a result of executive amnesty, he’ll be able to make a permanent change to the demographics of the country to the benefit of his political party and ideological persuasion.
But in executive amnesty, Obama will be breaking down the very fabric of constitutional governance. He will force his Congressional opposition into a Hobson’s choice between a divisive impeachment battle, a politically damaging series of governmental shutdowns over their attempt to use the power of the purse to roll back his abuses of power or acceptance of his total usurpation of executive power. Obama won’t be the last American president to change the laws by executive fiat; when there is a Republican president his partisans will demand he do the same thing to roll back Obama’s policies and precedent has been set that policy and politics is more important than the oath of office or preservation of our political traditions, so down the rabbit-hole of tyranny we will go.
This isn’t particularly problematic for him, though, because executive amnesty will make for tens of millions of bloc Democrat voters – in two ways. First, because those coming to the country will be coming from the Third World, where civil society, the rule of law and market economics are neither established nor appreciated and thus winning their vote through the promise of free stuff from the government is easy. Let’s not kid ourselves that green cards for illegals won’t ultimately translate into citizenship and voting rights; we know this will be the case eventually. And second, because the deluge of unskilled Third World immigrants will so depress wages and so impede upward mobility that the American middle class will atrophy and the Republican Party will wither along with it.
And therefore, the Democrats – who haven’t learned how to mobilize low-information and low-engagement voters for Congressional elections but know how to get them to the polls in presidential contests – merely must wait until their time comes again to use Obama’s precedent to finish the job of installing dictators in the White House who can bypass Congress and make more law through executive fiat.
Thus lies the threat a man not committed to American culture and tradition can pose to the nation. Obama’s audacity and willingness to cheat on our political institutions is manifest now, and undeniable. And, unencumbered by elections for the next two years, we stare into the abyss of his capabilities. Secret deals with Iran, fiat regulations on “climate change,” intrusions into state policies, intimidation of political opponents, selective prosecutions, misuse of the IRS…we’ve seen some of these, and we can undoubtedly see much more.
An American president, one committed to remaining within the bounds of our political culture and humble enough to respect political consensus and the maintenance of our system, would never have acted as Obama has. It takes someone detached from the American experience, as he is, to create such havoc.
The next two years hold the prospect of our destruction as a constitutional republic. We should feel relief at last week’s electoral results, but no surplus of confidence that displacing Obama’s minions from the Senate majority will alter the political reality in any significant way.