Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I don't get Obama

My guy is staying in the race. He's almost certainly not going to win, but he was never exactly given much of a chance by anybody. Libertarians are plenty used to losing elections. The important thing about the Paul campaign was the message. Sure, the sorts of irascible malcontents who voted third party in '04 had heard of limited constitutional government, but to many, the message was new. It wasn't really new, of course, as Paul's foreign policy is built on the thoughts of men like Washington and Robert Taft. But when the Republicans took us to war, and the Democrats failed to take us out of it again, and Paul began to question the policies that lead us into such senseless wars, people sat up and listened.

They also gave money, which allowed the Pauline message to percolate through the masses. Only a small percentage of people have been receptive thus far, but the campaign did better than expected. And since there was never a huge chance that Paul would win, his campaign was focused on getting the message out to as many people as possible. Once you've realized that there is an alternative to the Big Government Interventionism of the Republicans and the Bigger Government Interventionism of the Democrats, there's no way you're going to vote for McCain, Hillary, or Obama.

Which leads me to my question. If someone asked me why I support Paul, I would explain, in no little detail, the positions for which he advocates and with which I agree. I like his fiscal policies, even the bit about the gold standard; I like his foreign policy, especially the part about bringing all of our troops home. But I'm not sure why people support Obama. Sure, he's for hoping--with audacity--and change, but these aren't policies; they're senseless platitudes.

I accept that Democrats who don't like Clinton would lean toward Obama. I have qualms with voting for someone one is only mildly enthused about, but that's a separate issue. I'm talking about the people who think Obama is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The passion of the Paulites is understandable. Libertarians don't usually get this much press, and I'm just as likely to follow closely the next one who manages to do so. But why the passion for Obama? John Derbyshire, a fellow Paulite, is wondering the same:

Is O'Bama's the Campaign About Nothing? If the guy is not an empty suit, he's been playing a l-o-n-g game. Several bloggers have been digging into his legal/academic career in hopes of turning up some paper he published, some forthright opinion he committed to paper. So far, next to nothing. For someone with O'Bama's résumé, this is wellnigh incredible.

Either O'B made a long-strategic decision very early on in life that he was going to climb the political ladder, and that therefore the less of a trail of opinions he left behind him, the less trouble he'd get into; or he really is a quite exceptionally empty suit. Which is it? Which is scarier?

Now, unlike Derbyshire, I see little reason to be frightened by Obama. He exhibits fascist tendencies, to be sure, but all of the candidates running are totalitarians, of various degrees. I've been reading Jonah Goldberg's excellent Liberal Fascism, and I was just itching to throw out both words, the latter an invention of Mussolini which he applied... to himself. I'm not scared, then, not because I think a Hillary/Obama/McCain presidency would be benign--I think all would be extremely harmful--but because it makes very little sense to be afraid over that which we cannot control.

One of the reasons I've blogged so little as of late is that I have so little interest in the upcoming election. The only possible conservative defense in voting for McCain is that he will get to nominate strict constructionists to the Supreme Court. But that's not the sort of thing McCain has made his mark doing. It's probably a moot point since he's not going to win, but if dealt a Democratic Congress, he's going to compromise with the liberals like he's always done. It's worth mentioning, at present, that the Supreme Court is filled with seven Republican appointees; yet it's still divided.

I wasn't intending to go on an anti-McCain rant, not today anyway. Instead, if there are any Obama supporters of the gung-ho variety, who could help explain their candidate to me, I'd be eager to listen. The other day, I saw one of his ads on television, promising to save $2,500 per family on HealthCare costs, while managing to cover everybody. I listened for details, but I didn't hear any. If they exist, I'd love for someone to point me to them.

18 comments:

hoosiertoo said...

I haven't really started looking at Obama yet. I've kinda assumed Hitlery was a shoo-in.

Silly me.

The cult of personality surrounding Obama does concern me precisely because there's seems to be nothing there. Action for action's sake is a hallmark of totalitarians throughout history.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

Action for action's sake is a hallmark of totalitarians throughout history.

Bingo. When you throw in the fact that any criticism of Obama could be seen as racist, we could be in for some lovely liberal fascism indeed.

Also, Hillary isn't out until she's out. This could all be a scam to deflect from her inevitability. Or not.

Lichanos said...

Yeah, there's a lot of "image" in Obama's substance, and the endorsement of Caroline Kennedy nearly caused me to upchuck, but I think you guys are nuts. Are you really worried about Obama bringing the black boot of state power down on your necks? What about GWB? I know you guys are libertarians, and you probably don't like W, but do you see Obama, or any of the Dems advocating for eliminating habeus corpus? Time for a reality check, guys.

"Cult of personality" is such an easy term to toss around: how about a little historical perspective? Yes, a lot of BO's support is based on 'hope', 'charisma' etc., but that's politics in the real world. Using a term that is appropriate for Statlin's, Mao's, or Ceaucescau's regime is absurd.

Maybe the reason you libertarians don't get much traction is because you are so out of touch with reality and history.

Darin said...

Hey Eric,

Please email me.
darin2002@yahoo.com.

Darin

A Wiser Man Than I said...

I know you guys are libertarians, and you probably don't like W, but do you see Obama, or any of the Dems advocating for eliminating habeus corpus?

Wilson locked up 175,000, and FDR interned the Japanese. Worried might be a little strong, but you could say I'm a bit concerned.

Maybe the reason you libertarians don't get much traction is because you are so out of touch with reality and history.

I find that amusing, sorry. The reality is that when the State gets large, it tends to coerce. Obama isn't Hitler, and he isn't even Mussolini, but he's cut from the same cloth. Rhetoric about "uniting" and "going beyond politics" is take directly from the fascist play book.

I'm probably reading into this a little much, but if a big crisis comes--and one is coming; take a look at our economy--things could get nasty. Hopefully this is all much ado about nothing.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

Darin,

I tried to email you, but the message failed to deliver.

Eric

Lichanos said...

"Rhetoric about "uniting" and "going beyond politics" is take directly from the fascist play book. "

Oh come ON! That's standard USA political rhetoric. One of the things a lot of left-liberals don't like about Obama is that they want to crush Trent Lott and his ilk! They think Obama is namby pamby, not fascist, with all his "let's unite" talk.

I think you're barking up the wrong tree.

Good point about FDR and Wilson, though. Wars do that to countries, but of course, the State loves a war, right?

Lichanos said...

"Rhetoric about "uniting" and "going beyond politics" is take directly from the fascist play book. "

Oh come ON! That's standard USA political rhetoric. One of the things a lot of left-liberals don't like about Obama is that they want to crush Trent Lott and his ilk! They think Obama is namby pamby, not fascist, with all his "let's unite" talk.

I think you're barking up the wrong tree.

Good point about FDR and Wilson, though. Wars do that to countries, but of course, the State loves a war, right?

Lichanos said...

"Rhetoric about "uniting" and "going beyond politics" is take directly from the fascist play book. "

Oh come ON! That's standard USA political rhetoric. One of the things a lot of left-liberals don't like about Obama is that they want to crush Trent Lott and his ilk! They think Obama is namby pamby, not fascist, with all his "let's unite" talk.

I think you're barking up the wrong tree.

Good point about FDR and Wilson, though. Wars do that to countries, but of course, the State loves a war, right?

hoosiertoo said...

lichanos -

Since suspension of habeas corpus and other totalitarian acts have already been committed by Dems (and Reps) I don't feel myself to be unduly paranoid.

I don't think the American people are conerned enough.

hoosiertoo said...

Also - Wilson manufactured his war, and to a certain extent so did Rooseveldt, although to be fair he had already put the country on a "moral equivalent of war" footing by reviving Wilson's domestic programs under new names.

That's why moving to a war economy was so easy in WW2.

Many libertarians revile Lincoln for many abuses of civil liberties. I'm not one of them. The hallmark of Lincoln's wartime measures is the fact they were rolled back subsequent to the war.

Not so the measures instituted by turn of the century progressives. Lincoln had to ramp up his ad hoc measures; a modern totalitarian already has the legal and social prerequisites in place.

It's a simple matter of flipping a switch. I doubt that more than 10% of the public would even notice. We've all been frogs in a pot that's been heating up.

hoosiertoo said...

Damn. Long-winded tonight.

It might also interest you to know that Hitler and Mussolini recognized Rooseveldt as a kindred spirit - to the point that it was becoming a problem for FDR politically.

The modern Demopublican Parties - from the neocons to the folks at MoveOn - are very much the child of progressive/communist/fascist ideology.

AWMTI -

I think Hitlery is out. Too many of the old guard have dumped on her and she's starting to self-destruct now. Obama is the new Annointed One for the Dumbs.

hoosiertoo said...

One more thought -

Institutions at the time of Lincoln were much more contrarian than they are now and capable of vituperation we moderns wouldn't tolerate in a fishwrap.

While it's fair to say that the today's media is relentlessly partisan, none of the major players question the assumptions underlying the modern State - and very few of the minor players do either.

Republicans no more question the the power of the State than the Democratics, they simply want to turn it to their own advantage.

Libertarians (Randians and the libertines you find at Reason) and classical liberals are rare birds nowadays.

Lichanos said...

Hoosiertoo:

Yeah, some good points, but you pick and choose through history in a very unsystematic way. Let me just say this:

Republicans no more question the the power of the State than the Democratics, they simply want to turn it to their own advantage.

This is certainly true! However, I do examine its basis, and I totally disagree with your conclusions about it - philosophically, historically, pragrmatically.

If you visit my blob and follow the threads related to my post on Bubbly Economics, a debate with some Ayn Randians, you'll get my point.

troutsky said...

hoosier, your linking progressive/ communist/ fascist in one lump is akin to linking Christian / Muslim Jewish into one big alliance.

libertarians need to learn to specify which branch they tend towards, right or left, individualist or collectivist.Paul is the individualist variety,"free market" believer hence as naive as most conservatives about the corporate/ state/ military nexus that is the antithesis of democracy.

hoosiertoo said...

Communism, fascism and Christian socialism are all fruits of the same progressive tree.

There is no "branch" of libertarianism. It is radical individualism that is based on either a true anthropology - Paul is an example - or a false one - exemplified by the aforementioned libertines/Randians.

I am aware of the other subdivisions of so-called libertarians; I'm not impressed. "Collectivist" libertarians aren't. Sorry Noam.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

hoosier, your linking progressive/ communist/ fascist in one lump is akin to linking Christian / Muslim Jewish into one big alliance.

As Hoosier points out, they're all fruit of the same rotten tree. If you get a chance, pick up Liberal Fasicsm; it'll drive you nuts, but it's very instructive.

And, as Hooier pointed out, libertarianism is an individualistic, anti-statist ideology. I guess you could call it right-wing, but the significant point is that it's to the right of everything. From the perspective of libertarians, Republicans and Democrats are all but identical.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

I think Hitlery is out. Too many of the old guard have dumped on her and she's starting to self-destruct now. Obama is the new Annointed One for the Dumbs.

It looks that way, but I'm not going to buy it until Obama becomes president. We still have a lot of time for her to make some kind of move.