Civil disobedience is the act of breaking the law and defying the authorities to do anything about it. So is tyranny. The difference between the two lies in which side of the power equation the breaker is on. When the law is broken, two things happen. Either the law is upheld or the authorities back away from a confrontation and find some way to save face.
The ObamaCare process involved breaking a long list of rules and laws and then defying the ragged remnants of the system to do anything about it. At every turn the United States was unable to stop a rogue chief executive and his ruling party from trampling the law. When the case finally reached the Supreme Court, the leading judicial body in the land sidestepped a confrontation by redefining what the action was, rather than rule on the law. It was a classic case of the authorities saving face.
Civil disobedience balances moral absolutes against legal principles. The Supreme Court exists to serve as the final bastion of the law against runaway moral absolutes. But just as in its showdown with FDR, the Court blinked, and our court, unlike that court, didn’t even at least put up a good fight for the law before backing down. Obama didn’t even have to threaten to pack the court with justices. All he had to do was make it clear that he wasn’t going to follow the law, which forced the law to save face by following him instead.
The American chief executive has a great deal of power and a chief executive who dons imperial robes is a danger with few precedents. There have been conflicts between the branches, but even FDR made a pretense of bowing to some outside authority. Obama never has, with the exception of the King of Saudi Arabia.
If he were to be impeached tomorrow, as some urge, he simply wouldn’t leave. I don’t know what he will do if he loses the election, simply because I don’t think he knows what he will do– I don’t think the prospect of losing has seriously entered his mind. If he loses it will be a pitched battle between Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama on one shoulder telling him to stay and Joe Biden and whatever unfortunate soul is Chief-of-Staff at that point acting as the voices of reason telling him that it’s over.
Even absolute monarchs make concessions to something outside themselves, to religion or tradition, but Obama never has. History, religion and tradition are nothing but lines that he drops into speeches in praise of himself. The American flag and the Constitution are trophies that he uses as backdrops, the same way that he uses greek columns– these aren’t things that mean anything to him. They’re decorations for the sets playing the eternal movie of him.
Obama is not a politician. Politicians learn to compromise. They learn that they can’t always get their way. Obama has never learned that lesson. He always gets his way. Or he did until 2010. No one has ever told him “No” and made it stick. There is no weight of life experience that tells him what to do when this happens.
Unlike many of his predecessors, Obama was never in the military. Unlike all of them, he never held anything resembling a real job that required him to do anything but show up and make speeches. Children are natural tyrants. Take a child throwing a tantrum off the playground, give him every privilege in life, leave out any real challenges, keep telling him that he’s special for 50 years and he will be an actual tyrant.
No one ever thought that a man with the emotional maturity of a child, with no life experience and no principles, would occupy the White House, surrounded by sycophants and worshiped by a press that acts as an extension of the White House Press Office. It took an extensive breakdown among multiple institutions and the national culture for that to happen, and the inability to assert the rule of law is a further symptom of that breakdown.
No one is fooled, unless to some degree they want to be fooled. To believe a lie, you have to want to believe it, and that means that at some level, you know that it is a lie.
Obama was elected because we, Democrats and quite a few Republicans, wanted to be saved from ourselves. We wanted to be saved from our policies, our debates and our guilt. In a time of crisis, we weren’t looking for a reliable experienced professional to do the job, if we had been, McCain, for all his flaws, would have won by a landslide.
The man we picked had no experience and no skills beyond his surface charm. He was irresponsible and that was why the country chose him. His irresponsibility made our irresponsibility look good..Even his racist associations were a plus, they made voters feel better about their own prejudices. Every wrong, ugly, stupid and irresponsible thing that he did only made him more appealing to the people who voted for him.
Every now and then people like to get drunk. When things are a complete mess, that’s when the temptation to open the bottle and pour it down the hatch comes. Things were a complete mess in 2008 and the country got stinking drunk. It decided to be completely irresponsible and, feeling sorry for itself, it elected someone who wouldn’t have been qualified for any position in his own Cabinet.
Since then the country has sobered up. It thinks that Obama is doing a bad job, but it doesn’t know how to tell him that he was only a one-night stand. He seems like such a nice guy and it would hurt his feelings to tell him why he was really elected. It wasn’t because anyone, besides zombie liberals, thought that he knew what he was doing. It was because he seemed like a cheerful bright spot in a dour time and everyone felt sorry about slavery and segregation.
The problem is that Obama won’t leave. 2010 was a sharp hint. Any halfway competent politician would have caught it and changed direction. But Obama refuses to understand hints. He refuses to understand the unspoken message because that gives him power. The power of the rude is in their rudeness. The rudeness is a challenge to anyone with manners to match him equally or shut up and take it. Some Republicans, like Joe Wilson, have matched him rudeness for rudeness; many more, like Justice Roberts, have chosen to take it instead.
A Head of State who refuses to follow the law is engaging in rudeness squared, but Obama is doing what the left has always done. The left refused manners and mores, it trashed the culture, threw out its morals, defied the law with acts of civil disobedience and once in office refused to accept any limitations on their power. And most of the time it won. It stared down the society, the police and the politicians, defied their rules and took their rulemaking powers for its own.
The power of the left lies in challenging the lies that society tells itself and creating the illusion of credibility and sincerity through that challenge. It succeeds when its enemies lack faith in their own ideas, their own policies and their own values. The more abrasively it challenges norms, the more it refuses to follow any rules but its own, the more credibility it gains as a liberation movement.
Obama is the apotheosis of the left’s project, a brat nurtured on self-esteem, weaned on white guilt, educated to play with words and rewarded for staged confrontations with equally staged surrenders. All these qualities have shaped him into the entitled monster that he is, squatting in the Oval Office and grinning from the covers of a hundred magazines, determined to always win the only way he knows how, by ignoring the rules of the game.
If you have ever encountered someone genuinely worthless yet successful, it was almost certainly a man or woman who refused to take “No” for an answer. That can be a useful quality in some fields, but it’s also a perfect way for people with no useful skills to get what they want out of life. These are the people who don’t get fired or denied promotions because it would cause too many problems, who get discounts they aren’t entitled to, because they keep demanding them, who use determination and confrontation as substitutes for knowledge, ability and competence– who become a success story purely based on their enormous sense of entitlement and complete lack of shame.
Today such a man occupies the highest office in the land and rules accordingly. What the left once practiced as civil disobedience has become tyranny. Under Obama, the country is turning lawless because its chief executive is lawless. But Obama’s rise to power is a symptom of deep-rooted problems in the country. They cannot be fixed just by voting him out of office, because there are other Obamas out there.
Obama’s rise to power is a mirror of the national problems that got him there. All the things wrong with him are reflected, to some extent, in the men and women who voted for him. It could not be otherwise. His lawlessness is a symptom of an existing lawlessness. His contempt for values and morals, for tradition and history, for the nation itself, is a symptom of the contempt that the left has fed over the years until it has become a poison in the national bloodstream.
To truly defeat Obama, we have to be able to defeat those negative traits as well; to understand what gave someone like him power over so many people. It is not enough to just remove him from office, because unless we understand the corruption that made his rise possible, he, or someone like him, will rise again.
About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.
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