Skip to comments.Co-Sponsoring Your Success
Posted on 07/20/2012 11:50:01 AM PDT by Kaslin
"If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. ... If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
-- Barack Obama
The president's defenders have claimed he either misspoke last week at a Roanoke, Va., campaign event or that what he said is true. Both defenses have merit. Obama surely didn't mean to say something that politically idiotic so plainly. And it's true that no man's accomplishments are entirely his own. We're all indebted to others, and we all rely on government to provide some basic things. Only the straw-men conservatives of Obama's imagination yearn for an America with no roads and bridges.
At best, Obama's "gaffe" is a banal truism, and if the president's praetorians want to defend him on grounds of platitudinous banality, fine. But even they have to know in their hearts that this is a pathetic maneuver, given that the reason they're rushing to defend Obama in the first place is his commitment to the very philosophy they deny he's espousing.
This is the great irony of Obama and his defenders. He is a progressive ideologue and a passionate believer in "social justice," and that's a large reason why his fans love him so. But if you ever say that he is what he is -- if you take his words seriously -- they ridicule you for believing he's anything other than a pragmatist and moderate.
Meanwhile, what many conservatives don't appreciate is that Obama is not some otherworldly radical, importing foreign ideas, but that he in fact fits within an old American intellectual tradition. Indeed, you might even call him a reactionary progressive; he seeks to restore the assumptions and priorities of the Progressive Era.
Herbert Croly, the godfather of American progressivism, spoke for a generation of progressive intellectuals when he wrote that the "individual has no meaning apart from the society in which his individuality has been formed." For the progressives, society and government were almost interchangeable terms. John Dewey, the seminal progressive philosopher, believed that "organized social control" via a "socialized economy" was the only means to create "free" individuals. For the progressives, freedom wasn't the absence of government coercion, it was a pile of gifts from the state.
Progressives invented the idea of the "moral equivalent of war" as a means of inciting citizens to drop their personal priorities and rally around the state for a government-defined "cause larger than themselves." Obama came into office under the motto "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste" and has been looking for "Sputnik moments" ever since in a search for a way to rationalize his agenda.
To the extent Obama ever speaks the language of religion, it is to justify, even sanctify, the works of government. He often invokes the Hallmark-ized biblical teaching that "I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper" as a means to rationalize not personal action but government action. (Obama's own half-siblings have received little attention from their very wealthy and famous relative.)
Progressive minister Walter Rauschenbusch famously declared that only the "God that answereth by low food prices" should be God. You might say that under the ObamaCare vision, only the God that answereth with free birth control should be God.
In the slideshow "The Life of Julia" (Google it), the Obama campaign celebrates a progressive vision of citizenship where all of a hypothetical young woman's accomplishments are co-produced by the state: "Under President Obama, Julia decides to have a child."
It's all of a piece with Obama's conviction that "a problem facing any American is a problem facing all Americans."
The problem facing Obama is that there's a reason the American people never fully embraced the progressive vision. The idea driving America is the individual pursuit of happiness. Just because the word "individual" appears in there doesn't make it a selfish ideal; it means it's a vision of liberty. We each find our happiness where we seek it. For some that's in business, for others the arts, or religion or family or a mix of them all. And very often our happiness depends upon the satisfaction we feel at having conquered problems on our own.
Under President Obama, that sense of happiness is a mirage, because everything is a co-production of the state.
There was a road in front of the Colorado theater shooter’s apartment... so he obviously had help from the government
The so-called "progressive" vision is bankrupt, and when all the rhetoric of its current advocates is stripped away, the vision is nothing more than the old nightmare called tyranny--just packaged and beribboned for current audiences.
As for using religious language to promote the collective, redistributionist vision, perhaps a further analysis of such claims is in order.
For instance, the attacks on "capitalism" sometimes come from those who infer or downright assert that the idea is somehow incompatible with Christianity. The claim sometimes is used to justify the ideas of coercive "redistribution" by some government entity of the wages of private citizens.
Some questions might be pertinent and helpful to a thoughtful discussion on that point:
Is liberty of imperfect individuals in a society more compatible with Christianity? - OR
Is coercive control by imperfect individuals in government over all other imperfect individuals in a society more compatible with Christianity?
Christian teachings encourage individual benevolence, meekness, etc. Where in those teachings is use of coercive power over the lives of others encouraged?
Do imperfect individuals who gain coercive power by election to posts in government somehow become more virtuous and wise than likewise imperfect individuals in the society?
Are there examples in American history where the general welfare of the society benefitted by applying the principles of so-called "government" control of the means of production and distribution?
A reading of Governor Bradford's diary of the experience of the Jamestown Colony might be instructive here.
America's Founders preferred liberty for individuals, and their principles made America a desired destination for millions for over 200 years.
"To preserve [the] independence [of the people,] we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses, and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes, have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account, but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:39
"Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread." --Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821. ME 1:122
In the slideshow “The Life of Julia” (Google it), the Obama campaign celebrates a progressive vision of citizenship where all of a hypothetical young woman’s accomplishments are co-produced by the state:
“Under President Obama, Julia decides to have a child.”
To those who doubt that Obama is religious, can there be any doubt now after this obvious reference to missionaries.