If there was any doubt where President Barack Obama’s ideological heart lies, yesterday he let it be known loud and clear in a wide-ranging speech in Osawatomie, Kansas. President Obama is at his core a dyed-in-the-wool progressive who sees the federal government as the answer to all of America’s problems. And he is charging full steam ahead on this far-left course toward Election Day 2012, despite the total failure of his big-government policies and an American people who have flatly rejected the message he is trying to sell.
True to form, President Obama yesterday did what he does best: He delivered a flowery speech and flexed his rhetorical muscles. It’s a talent that won him the presidency, but unfortunately it hasn’t won the future for the American people. And that’s because the President’s underlying philosophy is terribly flawed. After three years of a massive expansion of government, the enactment of Obamacare, hundreds of billions of dollars in failed stimulus spending, government ownership of General Motors, a Big Labor/pro-unionization onslaught, threats of even higher taxation, the promulgation of more unnecessary regulations, and a total failure to confront the entitlement challenge, the verdict is in on President Obama’s record and the soundness of his statist, progressive philosophy. Deficits are soaring, the economy is stagnant, 13.3 million Americans are out of work, and job growth is flat. Not surprisingly, the President’s speech did not touch on those facts.
Instead of confronting the reality of America under his watch, President Obama hearkened back to the days of Bull Moose progressive Theodore Roosevelt, citing him as his model of good governance, quoting his 1910 “New Nationalism” speech and calling for “fairness” in America–along with more infrastructure spending, more federal education programs, more regulations, and higher taxation on job creators to redistribute wealth and pay for his big government programs. And in order to raise the temperature of his rhetoric–and inflame the passions of his audience–the President fell back to his class warfare ways, demonizing the haves in order to win over the have-nots while painting a picture of an America where “unfairness” reigns and opportunity cannot be found.
Matthew Spalding, vice president of The Heritage Foundation’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics, explains why President Obama’s reliance on class warfare and his perverted view of “fairness” is so contrary to what America is really about:
There are no class distinctions in America. That’s why Steve Jobs could start an adopted child in a broken home, start Apple in a garage and become a billionaire eight times over. The real distinction here is caused by the rise of a new governing class of experts, bureaucrats and political elites who insist on ruling us to enforce “fairness” rather than letting us govern ourselves under the rule of law.
Indeed, the new fairness inevitably leads to bureaucratic favoritism, inequalities based on special interests and undue political influence. The real class warfare, as Paul Ryan argued in his recent speech at The Heritage Foundation, is caused by “a class of governing elites, exploiting the politics of division to pick winners and losers in our economy and determine our destinies for us.”
Ironically, the President’s conception of America–that it is a land of no opportunity–stands in stark contrast to his own personal story, which he even trumpeted in his speech. Barack Obama came from meager beginnings and now sits in the Oval Office. There are countless stories of other Americans who have risen and found success on their own merit in this fertile land. But speaking to America’s rugged individualism and the notion of achieving success without the helping hand of the government would not serve President Obama’s progressive agenda. In his world, the government is the giver of all things, the defender of the middle class, and the architect of prosperity. Likewise, success is not something to be championed but to be demagogued in the name of the expansion of the state.
Over the past three years, we have seen the President articulate many ideas and cloak himself in many different philosophies. Of late, he has even called himself a tax-cutter and posed as a deficit hawk, all while calling for massive amounts of new spending. But with yesterday’s speech, he has emerged in his truest incarnation–a hard-line progressive to the core. The speech fits perfectly with reports that the Obama 2012 campaign has come to the realization that it will lose white blue-collar voters by large margins and is concentrating instead on cobbling together a coalition of culture elites and racial minorities. The abandonment of the middle class–or, rather, the fact that the middle class has abandoned him–puts in context this latest incarnation of the President as he prepares to run next year.
This is not the way to lead America to prosperity, to stand the economy on its feet, or to put the millions of unemployed Americans back to work. Rather than make government bigger and more intrusive, now is the time to make it smaller and more responsible so that entrepreneurs can achieve what Washington cannot manufacture: new jobs, new ideas, and a better America for future generations. But that America is quite different from the one President Obama envisions.