Video of Obama stirring up a crowd at a dinner this week in Washington, D.C. has gone viral on the web (see below). Obama was speaking to a gathering of “immigration activists”; i.e., people who make a living trying to ensure that America does not enforce her laws equally, does not deal justly with her own people, and does not fulfill her most basic obligations as a nation. The purpose of these activists is to impose unequal treatment and injustice on American citizens, who are expected to obey the law themselves, but to stand by silent and accommodating while non-citizens are helped to flout it.
The stark reality of this cannot be papered over. It is not “temperate” or “judicious” to try to put a less trenchant construction on what’s going on. It’s frankly suicidal.
Just one slice through the tangle of lawlessness
Consider the following points:
– The Obama administration has organized the Border Patrol, supposedly our first line of defense against such an incursion, along with ICE and the Department of Health and Human Services, to assist the illegals in making this crossing and remaining in the U.S.
– The Obama administration has consistently misrepresented who the illegals are and what it is doing about them. It has also been reluctant to account to the American people for how many have been released and where they have gone within the U.S.
– The Obama administration has threatened local governments and school districts if they don’t accommodate the illegals on the administration’s terms.
– The administration has done all of these things without concurrence from Congress, although each policy violates the intent of the laws governing the agencies and programs involved.
– Meanwhile, an obscure virus – enterovirus 68 – has suddenly emerged over the space of less than 8 weeks among small children in at least 42 states. I emphasize that we don’t have empirical evidence for a firm conclusion about how this virus popped up. But one would be a fool not to recognize the one pervasive, logically related thing that happened in all 50 states, just before the virus began mobbing emergency rooms with the onset of the school year. Illegal minors, many with other known diseases, were transported by the U.S. government into every state and processed into the public school systems. This set of facts demands investigation and precautionary measures, at the very least.
– Now, just days after an assurance from Obama that the U.S. was unlikely to see any cases of Ebola diagnosed here, we have had our first case diagnosed in Dallas, Texas. It was transported, exactly as one would expect, by an infected person coming from Liberia.
– Sensible voices are calling for a travel ban on the West African countries where Ebola is rampant. Such a ban need not be absolute, in the sense of preventing us from helping Liberia and the other gravely affected countries. Limited travel under closely supervised conditions should be allowed for health professionals and others providing such assistance. A judicious ban would suspend general travel, however: commercial airline travel that moves infected people around unwittingly, for the simple reason that you don’t know you’ve got Ebola until you show symptoms and have your blood tested.
– But the Obama administration rejects the possibility of a travel ban out of hand. It doesn’t even go to the trouble of trying to concoct a plausible-sounding reason for this position.
Where Obama’s priority lies
At this juncture, what does Obama go to the trouble of doing? He appears at a dinner for “immigration activists” to utter these words (transcript from The Weekly Standard):
“The clearest path to change is to change [the voter turnout] number,” said Obama. “Si se puede, si votamos! Yes, we can, if we vote! …
“Cesar [Chavez] organized for nearly 20 years before his first major victory. He never saw that time as a failure. Looking back, he said, I remember the families who joined our movement and paid dues long before there was any hope of winning contracts. I remember thinking then that with spirit like that, no force on earth could stop us.
“That’s the promise of America then and that’s the promise of America now. People who love this country can change it. America isn’t Congress. America isn’t Washington. America is the striving immigrant who starts a business or the mom who works two low-wage jobs to give her kids a better life. America is the union leader and the CEO who put aside their differences to make the economy stronger. America is the student who defies the odds to become the first in the family to go to college. The citizen who defies the cynics and goes out there and votes. The young person who comes out of the shadows to demand the right to dream. That’s what America is about.”
This passage indicates a complete detachment from the reality in which most Americans are living in October 2014. There are two important points to make about it – besides the point that, as a reality-detached, ideologically-framed, and rabble-rousing kind of message, it is classic demagoguery.
The unbridgeable gap
First, there’s a concept missing from Obama’s speech. One simple substitution in the Spanish phrasing would correct that.
The American view isn’t captured in the mantra “si, se puede – si votamos!”
The American view is this one: “Si, se puede – si trabajamos!” Yes, we can – if we work. America isn’t about being able to vote against other people: to use government against them and for your own benefit. America is about being able to work, yourself, for a benefit you yourself freely choose.
The second important point is this: the president’s twin postures are not reconcilable in conventional, mainstream politics. He is detached from the real and present concerns of the American people. At the same time, he is dedicated to a radical ideology of voting against others to give advantage to some.
There is no bridging this gap. This is a gap of philosophy and intention that “democratic” processes and centrist accommodation cannot reconcile. Obama no longer bothers, as he did before 2012, to dress his appeals up in the language of consensus: the language that argues the rule of law can be compatible with bigger government. Obama simply flouts the rule of law wherever he can, and tailors his language to a constituency that is wholly uninterested in it.
Mainstream pundits are increasingly at a loss. Obama can’t be framed any longer in that language of consensus that reassures us our democratic processes still serve our intentions.
In the meantime – surreally – life goes on for most of us, uneasy and insecure if materially changed only by degrees, at this point, from what it was five or ten years ago.
What the Founders knew
This is what it looks like when democracy collapses. Democracy in America has become subject to intolerable abuse, and in too many ways no longer serves the law-abiding but only the law-breakers. You, the law-abiding citizen, are expected to adhere to the law and accept the outcome of a popular vote. But others feel themselves at liberty to stack the deck for that vote in any way they can manage, to get the outcome they want.
This is why America’s Founders never intended for our nation to be a democracy. They took to heart the example of ancient Athens, which suffered a repetitive cycle in which democracy collapsed into mob rule and autocracy, under conditions very much like those of 2014.
The Founders hoped to ward off that evil pattern by making America a republic in which government is limited, constitutional, and federal. Democracy grows government in wild spurts, unleashing it to abuse and oppress the law-abiding. The Founders’ idea of limited government was intended to put that kind of power off-limits to government – especially to the federal government – and so protect the people from such abuse.
We have reached the point in the cycle of collapse at which the demagogic leader no longer pretends solicitude for the concerns of the law-abiding. It is unmistakable now that Obama quite literally doesn’t care about tuberculosis, enteroviruses, or scabies imported into our schools, or Ebola showing up in our emergency rooms.
He doesn’t care about the rule of law; he openly bragged to the “immigration activists” that he rode to the Washington dinner with illegals.
He does, however, have the radical demagogue’s care for specialized voting constituencies and stacked decks.
Mayors on the community radicalism bandwagon
Now we learn that 12 mayors of American cities, along with a county executive from Maryland, have signed a letter pledging their cities to “provide compassion and care for children.” (H/t: 100% Fed Up.) But they don’t mean children who are American citizens.
Based on the rhetorical emphases as well as the policies of the president and many of our other public officials, we can only conclude that child citizens of the United States are to be left at risk for diseases imported into the country across poorly policed borders, and via unobstructed travel from Ebola hot zones. Obama and these local-government officials deliver “moral” lectures to America’s citizens as if our children are not now at risk – certainly, as if it doesn’t matter whether any of us, child or adult, is put in danger of illness or death by the Obama administration’s policies.
Volumes could be written about what’s wrong with these people. But what matters is that government in their hands no longer serves the citizen. It treats him with contempt and abuses him. The position this puts the citizen in is remarkably similar to that outlined in the Declaration of Independence proclaimed by the American colonists in July of 1776: the list of grievances against the British crown.
The widening gyre
Can America’s course be corrected by more elections under today’s conditions? That is a question – with due respect to those who are certain one way or the other – to which we don’t know the answer.
But there are some answers we do know. One is that the spirit of our great and unique nation lies in the hearts and character of the people. We have entered a time at which the “center” in which we have trusted all our lives – the center of civic accountability, public transparency, the rule of law – cannot hold. Words like truth, justice, compassion, and morality are used by public officials and an often-corrupt media to deceive rather than to illuminate. We are not all talking about the same thing even when we use the same words. There are gaps in intention that cannot be bridged by the routine processes of politics. We Americans are no longer all, or even just mostly, the same kind of people.
And so the character of each of us has never mattered more. We will be judged, and vindicated, not just by how we use opportunities, or by whether we show courage, but by how we treat each other.
It’s a marvelous irony, in fact, that this has always been the proposition of America: that what matters is the character of the man or woman. No form of political organization can actually erase that reality. It’s the reason why greater freedom produces better life, and less freedom deforms it.
The project of the demagogue and the collectivist radical is precisely to erase this enduring reality in the life of men. But the joke will be on them, if we hold to what is true. In trying to strip America of her processes, they will reduce the “government” that means so much to them to irrelevance. They will only lay bare the irreducible necessity of America’s substance – and that quantity, which comes from the people themselves, cannot be extinguished by mortal men.