Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thus the death of unity (and that's a good thing)

With the controversy over his two decade long association with a demagogic blowhard strangling his campaign, Illinois Senator Barack Obama'a Rousseauean appeal for universal unity and unpartisan politics is being destroyed by his own capacity for the disingenuous. Sitting idly by while his "spiritual mentor" condemns the country for "crimes" it has not even committed for twenty years, Obama expects the sort of divisions and hatred fostered by such rhetoric to be undone in the course of one political campaign because he speaks well and wishes it were so. This is the primacy of consciousness at its worst/best.

It is also a sign of one of two things. Either Obama is supremely foolish or he is the typical unprincipled demagogue of modern American politics cleverly masquerading as a unifying "leader." Either he is a major league dope who cannot connect cause and effect (irrational, unsupported, inflammatory, and racist ideas shouted out by his "spiritual mentor" leading to and fostering a divisive hatred) or he is a dangerous sort of ambitious person seeking to eradicate partisan animosity through unification of the body politic in and around his own person. I have set this up as a mutually exclusive dichotomy, but that is misleading. He can, and probably is, both of these things. His big league dope bona fides have been on display openly since day one in his allegedly "inspiring" oratory. His complete disregard for cause and effect, the long term consequences of his policy ideas, and the absolute bone-headedness of his approach to dealing with our enemies has been damning him on this front since he launched his campaign in Springfield last year. But his call for a unified and undivided body politic that can focus on our "problems," which he always associates with various "public" enemies (businessmen, "special interests," and "extremists" that is those who dare to oppose the idea that citizens owe the country or their communities their "service" instead of selfishly pursuing their own happiness), is a dangerous echo of Rousseau and all of his one-party state intellectual heirs. Who are those heirs? Well, only insignificant historical blips like fascists and communists who did and do insist on one party homogeneity in their politics. I think the results of this sort of un-partisan politics are obvious.

His call to get "beyond" our current political divisions is ridiculous and dangerous. A one party consensus behind anyone, aside from a George Washington type figure who would be committed to principles of limited government and was not obsessed with power (in other words, a person who no longer exists in our political universe), would be disastrous. The only thing saving the constitution and our remaining memories of "limited" government is the division in our government both in form and parties. And even that division only slightly breaks the headlong dash into further and further socialism and the command economy. Were significant pluralities or, yikes, majorities of the parties and independents to suddenly unite behind the leadership of one man who proposes to use the power of the state to fulfill promises of resources to his unified horde of supporters we are all in serious trouble, particularly if we happen to have any of those resources.

The current two party system is bad enough in that is has institutionalized two altruist political parties and, through force of law, hampers third party challenges to their supremacy. Basically, these two groups are fighting and battling over power as opposed to many extreme policy differences (though some occasionally crop up). To suddenly unite them behind one "leader" is frightening. Even more frightening is the large-scale gullibility of the electorate of hearing Obama promise this state of affairs and responding positively. And it's not just the run-of-the-mill democratic primary voter idiots either (in fairness, the run-of-the-mill republican primary voter is also an idiot), but prominent and occasionally intelligent intellectuals (like Joseph Ellis among others). Were the electorate, or most of it anyway, virtuous and knowledgeable of history and political philosophy, the rights of individuals and committed to liberty in all spheres then, perhaps, the danger of a unified body politic would be minimal. But even that ideal polity and citizenry would need to be restrained and checked against violations of individual rights. In days like this, one realizes that the rise of a national demagogue (and this has happened before, in 1932 for instance) is indeed possible.

Fortunately, the American people, even the supremely gullible, are generally skeptical and disdainful, again generally, of hypocrisy. That Senator Obama, who claims to be a unifying leader who embodies every and all conceivable qualities which the great mass of the American people hold in common, is sitting by while his "spiritual mentor" accuses the government of the United States of unleashing biological warfare upon its own citizenry and the rest of the world, murdering "innocent" people without offering any context, and bringing the just fury of Islamic terrorists upon itself explodes his logic. Ironically, Obama has been wrapping himself in this man's coattails in order to appear sufficiently religious and pious. That goal was ridiculous. His call for unity is just plain dangerous (even in wartime, a loyal opposition is useful and necessary). Now one irrational desire is destroying another. And who says there is nothing good in American politics these days?