“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."
Friday, August 12, 2011
The Romance is Gone. But Don't Worry. It's Not Him; It's Us. We Failed Obama.
The romance is gone. But don't worry. It's not him; it's you.
It turns out we are the ones who failed Him. We weren't prepared for a mega-dosage of awesomeness. We were too dimwitted to grasp the decency of central planning. And the insistence of troublemakers to engage in debate and vote, in fact, is the most serious threat to this nation's future.
In a recent New York Times piece, Drew Westen, a professor of psychology and a Democratic strategist, wrote that the American public had been "desperate for a leader who would speak with confidence, and they were ready to follow wherever the president led." Do Americans really have some innate autocratic tendency that makes them desperately seek out a half-term senator "wherever" he may lead?
Charles Fried, a professor at Harvard Law School, recently echoed Westen's authoritarian sentiment in a Daily Beast piece, titled "Obama Is Too Good for Us," wherein he disparaged a system that allows mere simpletons to transfer their free market absurdity to Washington through elections. Similarly, Jacob Weisberg of Slate wrote that because of "intellectual primitives" on the right, "compromise is dead" and "there's no point trying to explain complicated matters to the American people. The president has tried reasonableness and he has failed."
"Reasonableness," you'll remember, is shoving a wholly partisan, Byzantine restructuring of the health care system through Congress in the midst of an economic downturn. But chipping a few billion off a $3.7 trillion budget in exchange for raising the debt ceiling is an act of irrationality that has, apparently, sucked the very soul from the American project.
The sight of a crumbling Cult of Obama—and with it the end of the progressive presidency—has many on the left so frustrated that they simply dismiss the very idea of ideological debate. To challenge the morality and rationality of Obamanomics only means you're bought, too stupid to know any better or, most likely, both. A slack-jawed hostage-taking saboteur.
Armed with this unearned intellectual and ethical superiority, it is not surprising to hear someone like John Kerry reprimand the media for even covering conservative viewpoints. It is predictable that the Senate would "investigate" a private entity like Standard & Poor's for giving an opinion on American debt that conflicted with its own. (Remember when not listening to the Dixie Chicks was a "chilling of free speech"?)
Obama himself blamed the volatile stock market on the "prolonged debate over the debt ceiling...where the threat of default was used as a bargaining chip." So it's not the job-killing policy or another $4 trillion of debt in two years that's problematic; it's the insistence of elected officials to represent their constituents that's really killing America.
Following the lead of the Environmental Protection Agency, Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently used this imagined "dysfunction" as an excuse to try to unilaterally implement comprehensive education "reform" by bypassing law and using a waiver system. Why? "Right now," Duncan explained, "Congress is pretty dysfunctional. They're not getting stuff done."
Hate to break the news to you, Arne; for many Americans, stopping this administration from "getting stuff done" is getting stuff done.
The Founding Fathers rightly feared that the purer the democracy the more susceptible voters would be to the emotion of the moment and the demagogues who take advantage of it. Needless to say, we are democratic enough to get the politicians we deserve.
But debate is not dysfunction. Feel free to bemoan the fact that the American people are not automatons, but "getting stuff done" is not the charge of the Constitution. Neither is having a king, though sometimes you get the feeling that a lot of folks who believe in power as the wellspring of morality are really annoyed by that fact.
David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Blaze. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.