I grew up with the picture of the U.S. president hanging on the wall of our house in Bucharest. My father, who spent most of his life working for the General Motors dealership in Romania, loved America, but he never set foot in this country. For him, America was just the place of his dreams, thousands of miles away. For him, the American president was its tangible symbol. At the end of WWII, we had President Truman on the wall. For us and for many millions around the world, he had saved civilization from the barbarism of Nazism, and he had restored our freedom — for a while. From the Voice of America and the BBC we learned that America loved Truman, and we loved America. It was as simple as that.
A few days after the 2004 Democratic National Convention ended, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of the Democratic contender for the White House, stated that four more years of the Bush administration meant four more years of hell for America.[i] Like Teresa, I am also an American immigrant, and I have spent my 34 American years under six presidents — some better than others — but I have always felt that I was living in paradise.
I still keep the picture of the American president on the wall in my home, and I will continue to keep it there until the end of my days. To me, the meaning of his office transcends the views of its occupant. The president of the United States symbolizes this greatest country on Earth, and he embodies the essence of our unique democracy: a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. He is also the leader of the free world, and the commander-in-chief of the most powerful military and intelligence force on Earth.
Next November, we will face a crucial election. For the first time in the history of this country, the voters will decide whether to preserve America’s traditional capitalism, which made the U.S. the undisputed leader of the world, or to transform the U.S. into a permanently debt-ridden socialist realm marching to the tune of Marx’s utopian “to each according to his need.” Unfortunately, our conservative movement has focused this critical electoral campaign almost exclusively on an anti-Obama strategy. This may not be a winning line of attack.
President Obama has indeed bought into the siren call of Marxism, as I myself once did, along with millions of others like me around the world — even including former President Reagan — when we were young and innocent. But President Obama did not come to power following a coup d’état. He was brought to the White House by 65,182,692 Americans who were proud that the U.S. had become mature enough to elect a black president. They were also overcome by Obama’s unparalleled self-confidence on stage and by his outstanding oratory, a combination that succeeded in neutralizing even such incredible disasters as the one caused by the Marxist Rev. Jeremiah Wright — the “adviser for change” of Obama’s 2008 electoral campaign who was caught on videotape screaming “God damn America.” Moreover, the electorate was entranced to such a degree by Obama’s disarming smile that no one has yet dared to ask him why the picture of Marxist idol Che Guevara was hanging on the wall of his campaign office in Houston — as was accidentally televised worldwide in February 2008. Then there was also President Obama’s flamboyance and his flair for grandiose staging. During the 2008 election campaign he easily filled entire stadiums with fascinated admirers. Some of those electoral gatherings looked like Stalinist revival meetings — over eighty thousand people were assembled in front of the now famous faux-Greek temple resembling the White House that had been erected in Denver.
Most of those people are likely to vote for President Obama again, unless our conservative movement will change its current electoral strategy of portraying him personally as the enemy. If history is any guide, this strategy will backfire. The 2004 Democratic National Convention was entirely focused on denigrating President George W. Bush. Remember? One after the other, the participants portrayed him as a “renegade,” a “liar,” a “deceiver,” a “fraud” who had concocted a war for personal gain. One delegate, now governor of Maryland, even stated that he was more worried about Bush than about al-Qaeda. A retired four-star general and former commander of NATO called President Bush a “deserter,” and looked the other way while one of his supporters compared America’s president to Hitler. The result? Bush was easily re-elected. He also won an outright majority of the popular vote.
Unity in a time of war is what made America the leader of the world. During World War II, 405,399 Americans gave up their lives in order to defeat Nazism and the Holocaust, but their country remained sturdily united around its commander-in-chief. “Attacking Obama will be counterproductive for Republicans,” warned Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard’s executive editor.[ii] I second his statement.
Robert Kennedy — not one of my favorite people — once said: “I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have strong feelings about what must be done.” Robert Kennedy understood what the presidency was all about, whatever we may think of what he planned to do if given the mandate, and he seems to be even more right today than in his time.
Our country is on a very perilous course.
An April 2009 Rasmussen poll showed that only 53% of Americans preferred capitalism to socialism; 27% were unsure, and 20% strongly opted for socialism. Even Russia’s Pravda chaffed: “It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American descent into Marxism is happening with breathtaking speed, against the backdrop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people.” One of the most popular nightclubs in New York City’s East Village is the “KGB Bar.” The place is jammed by Marxist writers and journalists, who read from their own scribblings and preach the need to redistribute America’s wealth.
Why would so many citizens of the United States, a country that for most of the last century sheltered capitalist economics and law-abiding freedoms from the evil plague of socialism, now suddenly be succumbing to Marx’s noxious charms?