By any objective standard, Barack Obama's presidency must be judged a failure. It is undeniable that the hope for positive change that he inspired – however nebulous the meaning – has not been fulfilled. Obama promised the American people that he would deliver: (i) a more prosperous future, (ii) a more transparent government, (iii) a country that would be respected worldwide, (iv) a more equitable society and (v) a more united body politic. Not only has he failed to deliver on any of those five promises, but the case is easily made that he has moved the needle in the opposite direction in every one of those areas.
No rightist, and nary a centrist would disagree with the previous assessment. Even the leftists are unhappy with their savior. Numerous critical articles have appeared in leftist journals such as the New York Times and the Huffington Post – although, most of these chastise the President for not governing sufficiently far to the left. (A good example is an article by Jonathan Chait in the September 2, 2011 NYT entitled "What the Left Doesn’t Understand About Obama.") Given the universally negative opinion of Obama's achievements, why isn't Romney clobbering him in the polls? One would expect that virtually any minimally respectable Republican candidate could cruise to victory in November.
Before providing the answer, here is a litany – arranged in parallel to the five points above – of Obama's primary failures, which are not open to dispute:
(i) Obama's Keynesian economic policies have forestalled the robust economic recovery that normally follows a steep recession. Instead, his profligate tax, spend and borrow policies have led to massive deficits, crushing debt, bloated and inefficient government, sustained high unemployment, financial uncertainty and a diminished standard of living.
(ii) Obama's "Chicago-style" of governing is characterized by the ramming through of major legislative measures (Obamacare and Dodd-Franks) without widespread citizen assent, a bigoted Justice Department, recess appointments when Congress is not in recess, executive orders that violate legislative intent and the bottling up of America's energy resources under insurmountable red tape.
(iii) Obama pursues a warped and cowardly foreign policy that subverts US allies (like Israel, Poland and England) while rewarding its enemies (too numerous to list). It encompasses a dangerous drawdown of the country's military assets. The result has not been increased respect or affection for the US around the globe, but rather contempt and disregard. Why should any country respect the US when its president bows to dictators and denies that his country plays or has played an exceptional role in world history?
(iv) Obama's attempt to redistribute wealth has been partially "successful." His demonization of the wealthy and entrepreneurial has terrified business, restricted investment and stunted economic growth; but it has succeeded in increasing the number of Americans on food stamps.
(v) Perhaps his greatest failure is his inability or unwillingness to function as the post-partisan, post-racial unifier that he promised to be. The country took justifiable pride in electing a black president, viewing his election as an atonement for the racial injustices in its past. Rather than embracing the role, Obama has squandered the opportunity by pitting rich against poor, business against consumers, citizens against illegal immigrants, religious against secular, and even whites against minorities on occasion. His disgusting campaign against Romney-Ryan is more indicative of a gangland thug than an inspirational national leader.
The harsh assessment above is certainly shared by a great many Americans. Why, then, is Mitt Romney not running away with the election? The answer can be provided in a rather broad stroke, which is sharpened by two very specific components of that stroke. First, Obama is, unfortunately, deeply representative of the political/cultural trajectory of the country over the last hundred years. The century-long onslaught by progressives on American society has been recounted by numerous authors. In a nutshell, progressives believe that the founding principles of the United States – as enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution – were wrong and that America could be converted, according to them, into a more just, humane, equitable and fairer society if it adjusted its principles to more closely match those of John Dewey, Herbert Croly, Woodrow Wilson and even Karl Marx. Over the course of a hundred years, the people of the United States – either consciously or subconsciously – have come to accept to a shocking degree the legitimacy of that view.
Well, Obama is the fulfillment of that vision. Romney, and especially Ryan represent a return to the ideals of the Founders. In fact, given the apparent success of the progressive revolution, it is perhaps remarkable that Romney is even competitive with Obama. The fact that he is competitive illustrates that the progressive victory is not yet complete. Actually, only 20% of the country openly professes allegiance to the progressive program. The remaining 80% are split roughly evenly between those who would prefer to cling to the Founders' ideals and those who are either apathetic or confused. Unfortunately, the latter group tends to overwhelmingly support the leftist cause. This is so because of two special features of today's progressive milieu that have rendered the flaming incompetent Obama as at least an even bet to retain his crown. They are Media bias and Public School brainwashing.
It is well-known that virtually all of the opinion-molding organs of American society are firmly in the hands of the leftists. These include: the media, public schools, academia, legal profession, foundations, seminaries, libraries and, sadly, many major corporations. Therefore, unless an individual is an exceptionally original thinker or is exposed to a countervailing inoculation (e.g., by reading the Wall Street Journal or The Washington Times, watching Fox News, subscribing to the Heritage Foundation or attending Hillsdale or Grove City College), his mindset is inevitably shaped to be part of the liberal consensus. And the two venues that are most influential in this regard are the media and the government-controlled public schools. If these two components were magically removed from the progressive control board, then what remains – if it even could survive without these fundamental components – would likely not be enough to control the national conversation as it currently does. But today – and for the last 30-50 years – the children of America are subject to a relentless barrage of left-wing propaganda that is strongly reinforced by what their parents see and read on TV, in the movies and in the newspaper.
The pernicious efforts of the mainstream media and the education establishment have rendered at least a quarter of the population into mindless robots who serve the progressive cause. Nothing is going on in their heads. Therefore, the robots will favor Obama – despite his manifest failures and despite the fact that their support runs counter to their own self interest. Added to the 20% hardcore liberal population, one obtains Obama's 45% approval rating.
Thus the election is neck and neck. But here's a thought. Maybe it's not. All the polls seem stuck on a roughly 45-45 split. That leaves 10% undecided. Now, historically, undecideds break nearly unanimously against the incumbent. Hopefully, Obama's vile campaign against Romney will ensure that the historical precedent is maintained. Thus, it really is 55-45 for Romney, which would match the 10 point spread between Reagan and Carter in 1980. So maybe a slaughter is in the offing after all. One can only hope.
This article also appeared in The Intellectual Conseervative at: