When Obama hasn’t been stoking division, he’s been busy undermining and attacking the core institutions of American public life. In his 2010 State of the Union address, Obama disgracefully and dishonestly called out the Supreme Court over the Citizens United decision. Time and again he’s attacked Congress for failing to bend to his will, and whenever the opportunity has presented itself, he’s bypassed Congress altogether, enacting policy by the dubious use of executive powers to impose crippling environmental standards on the coal industry, circumvent immigration laws, and gut the work requirement of the 1996 welfare reform law, to give just three examples. And with the passage of Obamacare, he’s showed contempt for the Constitution itself — which should come as no surprise given that he’s on record as suggesting that the document was flawed and outdated.
Neither has this most censorious of presidents been slow to express his displeasure and disappointment with his subjects. His “bitter gun clingers” remark from 2008 is the most notorious example, but while in office he’s regularly dismissed Americans as “scared,” “angry,” or “confused,” or suggested they’re being manipulated by sinister forces, when they’ve failed to show sufficient enthusiasm for his policies.
The tone and character of Obama’s presidency should on their own be sufficient grounds for ensuring that it becomes, to use his own words, a “one-term proposition.” But many of the swing voters who will decide this election are not political junkies, and with the media running interference for the president it worked so hard to elect, Obama’s obvious disdain for so many of his country’s citizens and institutions has been largely concealed. So it’s worth touching briefly on Obama’s policies, which have brought economic stagnation to the United States, but which he proposes to not only continue with, but double-down on.
While conservatives have always favored smaller government, lower taxes, and greater economic and personal freedom, until recently it was at least possible to have a debate about the relative merits of those ideas, as opposed to believing in a larger and costlier government presiding over cradle-to-grave welfare systems. That debate is now over. In Spain, Greece, Italy, and Portugal, we’ve seen how the big government, tax and spend, “social democracy” model ends: in economic collapse, mass unemployment, protests, and riots. France, having embraced no-holds-barred socialism in an attempt to turn things around, is rapidly catching up with its southern neighbors, while here in Britain, the conservative-led coalition government is struggling to cut the national debt and dismantle the client state built by its socialist-lite predecessors.
Republicans and Democrats have both been guilty of letting government grow too big, of reckless spending and the elevation of short-term political considerations above the long-term good of the country. Now, Republicans at least acknowledge that America can’t continue down the same path, but Democrats promise more of the same. Economic ruin and national decline are what happens when conservatives make mistakes, or forget why the voters put them in office — and they’re what happens when liberals govern exactly according to plan.
Obama and his colleagues have failed as dismally abroad as they have at home. The president began his term by apologizing for what he saw as his country’s past sins, to a region of the world largely governed by dictators and religious extremists. His confused Middle East policy reached its terrible but almost inevitable denouement in Benghazi, where Americans were left to die because sending help would have resulted in a full-scale battle that would have undermined Obama’s boasts that al-Qaeda was in retreat, and exposed his misplaced faith in the Arab Spring. Elsewhere, Obama and his equally foolish and cynical secretary of State have alienated allies from Britain (by sympathizing with Argentina over the Falkand Islands dispute) to Poland and the Czech Republic (by reneging on missile defense agreements).
Would President Romney do better? In terms of policy, conservatives obviously believe so, particularly with regard to turning around the economy — it would be virtually impossible to do worse. But in terms of character, respect for one’s country’s history and its institutions, and belief in the decency and resourcefulness of its people, there’s simply no contest.
If anyone should feel the need for “revenge” Tuesday, it’s the millions of ordinary Americans who remain jobless, or whose homes have been lost, and who are seeing the cost of everything from gas to healthcare rise, while the man responsible for the mess makes no effort to conceal his irritation and impatience with them and tries to cling to power by dividing them against their neighbors. And all as he assigns blame to everyone but himself.
But Mitt Romney is right. Revenge isn’t a noble or uplifting reason for choosing a president.
Love of country is better.