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Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Cult of Barack Obama

A few days ago I wrote a piece analyzing whether or not the government could practically be expected to prevent a speculative market from occurring. I tried to use the premise of this piece to try and trap a fellow colleague of mine, an Obama supporter, into agreeing with a policy position that is polar opposite of that of Obama's himself. The premise of the piece is that the government couldn't be counted on preventing a speculative market because the very behavior they would need to restrict would also be making people lots of money at the time.

I started by asking my colleague the very title of the piece, Can Governments Prevent Speculative Markets. He thought about it for a minute and replied no. He went into a long winded and frankly confusing explanation about insider information but in the end he agreed the government can't. My machiavellian plan was to get my colleague to admit that government can't prevent speculative markets and then to point out that this is the exact flawed idea that Obama has. Of course, he pre empted me. Before I had a chance to even bring up Obama's name, he proclaimed that Obama would in fact be able to prevent speculative markets. In other words, he sees Obama as being able to accomplish that which he thinks the government in general can not.

I also have a friend that is very well off. He is one of those that Obama has promised would have his taxes raised. He is also an Obama supporter. When I pointed this out to him, he replied that having to pay higher taxes is well worth restoring our reputation in the world and leading our nation back to greatness.

These two folks are what one would call true believers of the Barack Obama cult. To them, he really can walk on water, and there really is no problem that he can't solve. Obama has tapped into not only their cynicism of the way in which government works, but also, in his ability to change all of it. Let's just take a look at a snippet of what Obama said on Tuesday.

I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.

Now, this statement is remarkable not only in its cynicism but in its narcissism. All the folks at Cook County Hospital and every one of the other thousand plus public hospitals all over the country are likely to be quite surprised to learn that the government has not been healing the sick prior to June 2, 2008. Furthermore, there is an obscene amount of hubris in the belief that he, and he alone, can feed the hungry, give jobs to the poor, and provide health care for the sick.

Obama has truly created a messianic persona in the minds of the true believers that follow him. Not only has he created an image of a broken nation, but on top of it, he has created an image that only he can fix it. Whereas Conervative luminary Ronald Reagan galvanized folks by returning American to prominence through conservative ideals, Barack Obama galvanizes folks that America will be great by simply following him. What is remarkable is that his true believers take all of it at face value even though he almost never provides a single specific as to how all of this will be done.

In my opinion, the fallacy in their belief lies in several basic failings. The first failing is that most humans naturally think that everyone believes as they believe. Obama's message of unity is a powerful one, and we all want a government united. Obama's supporters think that everyone will follow along with Obama's message. Of course, this is simply not the case. If and when Barack Obama tries to turn our health care system into a socialized one, you can bet the country will be divided on the issue. Folks like me will vigorously oppose him and that issue will get extremely partisan. The same will happen on the issue of judges, government spending, global warming, and pulling out of Iraq. His supporters seem to think that pulling out of war battlefield will be met with bi partisan approval. It won't . The reality is that Obama has a unifying message, and at the same time, he has a highly ideological platform. To his supporters, his unifying message and belief system are perfectly appropriate together because they believe both. He isn't going to unite the country behind a platform that is polar opposite to that which fiscal, social, foreign policy, conservatives think is wrong.

Next, his supporters seem to think that Obama can charm everyone else in the world the way he charms them. That's why they see his foreign policy vision as new age rather than naive. Since they have been hypnotized by his soaring rhetoric, so to will Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar Assad, and Kim Jong Il. The reality is that they won't. Foreign policy has little relation to charm. Rarely has charm and good personality been the key to foreign policy. Reagan didn't defeat the Soviets because he charmed the pants off Mikhail Gorbachev. He put the Soviets into an untennable position, and then he negotiated an agreement from a position of strength. All of Kennedy's charm didn't help him when he met Nikita Kruschev in Vienna. When Obama is sitting across from Ahmadinejad, it won't be his charm that will give him leverage, but rather, he will actually have to have geopolitical leverage to begin with.

Finally, the biggest flaw in the Obama cult is that they vote against their own self interest, and instead they vote in favor of vague but soaring rhetoric. It is not only foolish to vote for someone that promises to raise your taxes specifically, but it also makes an imperfect system. Elections are all about getting the biggest cross section of voters. Each policy will appeal to some and at the same time turn off others. If everyone votes their self interest, then the policies with the biggest cross appeal always win. If someone promises a policy against your self interest, you have to vote against them. For instance, the Reps tough border stance appeals to those that hold illegal immigration as a very important issue. At the same time, it turns off many Latinos. Thus, this policy becomes a delicate political balance. In the case of Obama, my friend will vote for him even though Obama has promised to hurt him personally by raising his taxes. His own self interest will definitely be hurt, while the benefit is nebulous and unclear. The same goes for my colleague. He has navigated with great pain all the rules and regulations of mortgages, and yet, he is willing to vote for a candidate that promises to increase those same regulations dramatically. While the pain to him is specific, the benefit is again nebulous.

The problem with the Obama cult is the same as with most cults. Its followers become so enthralled and hypnotized that they lose sight of reality. If you argue with any true Obama believer, you will always get the same robotic response. If you point out Wright, they will point out Hagee, Parsley et al. (I pointed out the fallacy of that arguement here.) If you attack any of his specific positions or associations, they immediately point out that you are engaging in the cynicism that Obama stands against. If you point out his lack of record or accomplishments, they immediately point out that he is a transformative figure not held to the same standards as any other politician. Just like any other cult, they become nothing more than the robotic zombies always saying the same thing over and over. Ben Jones, previously of the Dukes of Hazzard and a Congressman, was on Hannity and Colmes recently. Hannity asked him about why he supported Obama and he responded that he is the most gifted, charismatic, and impressive politician he had ever seen. That's how all his followers think, and yet, they never give any tangible evidence of any of their beliefs.

The problem with the cult of Obama is that it is like any other cult. All you have is a bunch of brainwashed zombies that all think and sound the same. In the case of Barack Obama, the world is awful, America is flawed, and only Barack Obama can save it. There is no substantive debate with the cult of Obama. I know because I have tried. There is only soaring rhetoric of togetherness, healing, and uplifting. This sort of blind devotion is dangerous, as it is with any cult.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I posted a comment on another blog earlier, that deals with Obama 's messianic complex.

"Krauthammer was right when he called Obama a platitude salesman. Personally, I am beginning to think that his whole campaign is nothing but the world’s biggest book promotion tour. Seriously, the man has earned over 4 million bucks in royalties on his two autobiographies.

Also, anyone who believes that Obama is humble and down to earth might want to stop and wonder the last time a relatively unimportant state senator from Illinois (or anywhere else for that matter) wrote two autobiographies before the age of 45. Gosh, even Kennedy only had one and it was about a relatively interesting period in his life, instead of Obama’s long and meandering rhetorical ramble about whether he should ingratiate himself to the black community or the white community.

Well, at least somehow I managed to be one of the few people under 30 who doesn’t buy into his cliche campaign."