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  • Obama's Not-So-Great Fairness Society

    Barack Obama ran for President claiming the mantle of Abraham Lincoln. Then he took office and recast himself as the second coming of FDR. He then railed against the “Do Nothing” Congress in his very best Harry Truman impression. Now, in a pilgrimage to the small town of Osawatomie, Kansas, President Obama has given the defining address of his administration and revealed that his heart lies with the old Bull Moose progressive, Theodore Roosevelt.

    Osawatomie is where Teddy Roosevelt delivered his famous speech in 1910 calling for a “New Nationalism” and launching his campaign for a third presidential term (the quest led him to become the first Progressive-party candidate).  Osawatomie was Roosevelt at his most progressive, and so it was for Mr. Obama. If there was any doubt before, it is now clear that the President has abandoned the center and doubled down on his progressive governing model.

    Throughout history and today in many parts of the world, political rule is the privilege of the strongest and the most powerful. America is exceptional because it is dedicated to the principle of universal human liberty: that all are equally endowed with unalienable rights, including the right to the rewards of their own individual labor. The primary obligation of government is to secure property rights, break down artificial barriers to opportunity, and uphold the rule of law. The result is a dynamic social order in which every member of society can work hard and advance based on individual talent and ability. Poverty is no longer a permanent condition. The ladder of opportunity is available to everyone. These principles of human equality and limited constitutional government form the foundation of the traditional American Dream.

    About a hundred years ago, there arose a different dream, anchored in the faith that government could engineer a better society, rather than simply leaving the people free to create one. Progressive reformers were convinced that the American founders were wrong in their assumptions about man and about the necessity of limited government. Moreover, advances in science would allow government to reshape society and eradicate the inequalities of wealth that individual rights and democratic capitalism had caused. A more activist government, built on evolving rights and a “living” Constitution, would redistribute wealth and level out differences in society through progressive taxation, economic regulations, and extensive social-welfare programs, all centrally administered by expert bureaucrats.

    In 1910, Roosevelt set out to define a more comprehensive progressive philosophy. “The material progress and prosperity of a nation are desirable chiefly so far as they lead to the moral and material welfare of all good citizens,” he observed in his Osawatomie speech. Progress and welfare require not only the centralization of government but also the nationalization of politics—a break from the American tradition of localism. The federal government should play an interventionist role to advance progressive democracy, for “if we do not have the right kind of law and the right kind of administration of the law, we cannot go forward as a nation.”

    In his own Osawatomie speech, President Obama donned the mantle of TR. The choice Obama frames is the same offered by progressives 100 years ago: between the harshness of market capitalism (defined in true straw-man fashion as you’re-on-your-own economics with “a free license to take whatever you want from whoever you can”) and the fairness of progressive nationalism (the view that “we are greater together—when everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share”). But things have to be made fair through more government programs and regulation. Obama’s program is fundamentally about the rise of a new governing class that insists on enforcing political and economic “fairness” rather than letting us govern ourselves.

    At some point in every presidential campaign, there is a speech that defines the candidate and gives context to his policies. By turning to TR’s New Nationalism model, Obama has revealed once and for all that the intellectual antecedent of his administration is the progressive theory of governance.  He is calling his party back to its most radical roots. His objective as President is to complete the progressive transformation of America and define its next phase—let’s call it the Fairer Society—by more complicated and extensive government regulation of society and redistribution of wealth and benefits to produce “fair” outcomes.

    As the national government becomes ever more centralized and bureaucratic, acting without constitutional limits, it also becomes more undemocratic, and more potentially despotic, than ever. And that’s no American Dream.

    The full version of this piece appears in the current issue (December 31) of National Review.

    Posted in Featured, First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Obama's Not-So-Great Fairness Society

    1. Bobbie says:

      Did you explain to the crowd "nationalism" depletes individualism, Mr. president? Or that nationalism dissolves by rule all personal resources, MR. President? Did you explain that human worth will be nationalized government to determine, Mr President? and that nationalized health care will be an aid in that process, Mr. President? And the fact that all education will be controlled and executed by national law? Mr. President? educating the minds to narrow focus only on the national agenda? Mr. President? diminishing free thought? Mr. President? Explain why this is decent and fair to humanity? Why in America where people prove self governing rationalizes freedom while nationalized government takes away the ability to self govern only to enslave the employed, Mr. President? How about telling the whole truth in where nationalism will go and what a benefit it is to the whole of humanity and all of America! Maybe it would be a good idea to hear from American immigrants of 3rd world countries how "fair" it is to be controlled by the minds that work the unconstitutional government?
      When and if interpreted correctly the way it is written, the American Constitution withstands ALL time! When it's misinterpreted for a purpose, the American Constitution, America and all Americans lose all individual strength, power and principle. this man claimed to be a scholar! What he left out of the claimed truth was a scholar on the misinterpretation of the American Constitution as his actions show his despise and disrespect of it.

    2. Jeff, Illinois says:

      No, let's instead continue with the trajectory of cronie corporate capitalism, where the middle class moves down the economic ladder because the rich and powerful have gamed the system. Yeah, that's the ticket! Let's do everything we can to confuse the populace, with wedge issue exploitation in order to hide the insidious corporatist takeover of america. Heck they will never notice that underneath the overusage of a distorted sense of liberty and justice, those who have the money and power to manipulate the american economy in their favor will do so at any cost to the so-called american dream. We'll use ALEC, superPACs, Grover Norquist, FOX News and the uninformed voters to push through our agenda. And of course spin every effort of the present administration as socialist, communist, radical, misguided, short-sighted and or worst of all "fair"!

    3. Lloyd Scallan says:

      It's really hard to understand why anyone had to wait until Obama's Osawatomie speech to realize he is, and has always been, a Marxist/communist from day one. Just study his past . His parents. The way his was raised and by whom he was taught. His friends. It's all right there. Do we not see he was invented and paid for by radical leftist who chose him to complete their agenda of a one world communist society but had to collapse our Western way of life first. Just look at his record, (not the record of government agnecies) since he was elected. Every policy is designed to complete that agenda.

    4. Lee Burns says:

      I do not subscribe to the philosophy that we should proceed forward only as fast as the slowest among us.
      The proper interpretation of "fairness" must include the understanding that the slowest among us must do their utmost to assist the progress of all and not accept the notion that they should be entitled to a "free" ride.
      It seems clear to me that the current administration firmly believes that the more "free" riders they can foster the more voters they will have to perpetuate their agenda. Survival of the fittest is real but it isn't pretty and should be tempered with mercy whenever practical but endless mercy to the detriment of the the pack eventually brings disaster.

    5. sam says:

      Let's examine where this "fair society" will lead in action?

    6. VC Geezer says:

      I knew it! Obama isn't really a president, he actually a presidential impersonator!

      Now if he could only perfect his stand-up comic routines…

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