In my latest newsletter (which you can view here and subscribe to here) I asked whether Republicans will be the only unhappy people over the next four years. My starting point is that Republicans are deeply depressed right now, while Progressives are gloatingly triumphant. Their man won. Their agenda is the one he’ll enact.
The problem as I see it is that almost nobody — Republican or Progressive — is going to be happy with the outcome. Unlike the Reagan years, which saw the economy soar, so much so that even the most embittered Democrats couldn’t complain directly about the economy (so they had to focus on inequities instead), Obama’s first four years have seen everything going negative: the economy is perpetually saggy at home and disastrously bad abroad; the nation is more divided than ever before at this precise point in a President’s second term; nations that the U.S. had previously stabilized are collapsing; and there is, to borrow Carter’s term, a terrible malaise throughout the land. More than that, it my money is on the fact that all of these trends will worsen with Obama’s policies.
Given that things are going to go from bad to worse, will any but the most die-hard Progressives be happy? Right now, my Progressive friends (and I have many) are convinced that just a little bit more of the Obama magic will turn everything around — and then they’ll be happy. But what if it doesn’t turn around? Will they rationalize downwards what constitutes happiness? That is, will we hear that it’s wonderful to be unemployed for so long, because you can do some serious navel gazing; and hey, isn’t it great that all those European and Middle Eastern nations are at war or heading to it? I don’t think so, and here’s why.
I can say with a fair amount of certainty, because I’ve been on both sides of the political divide, that most Democrats and Progressives want wealth, security, and stability. They’re just sufficiently foolish to believe that these things are best attained with an all-powerful state, rather than through maximum individual freedom within a legal framework that applies a few, clear laws equally to all citizens. They might learn something when they realize that their ideology doesn’t achieve their ends.
But Obama…. His ends are very different. I don’t think anything makes this more clear than what Jonathan Tobin noticed when he watched Steve Croft’s sycophantic 60 Minutes interview with Barry and Hillary. Buried amidst the snowstorm of fecal matter, and the steady browning of Steve Croft’s nose, Barack Obama made one startling admission. In defending his “lead from behind” approach to the Middle East, Obama had this to say:
President Obama: Well, Muammar Qaddafi probably does not agree with that assessment, or at least if he was around, he wouldn’t agree with that assessment. Obviously, you know, we helped to put together and lay the groundwork for liberating Libya. You know, when it comes to Egypt, I think, had it not been for the leadership we showed, you might have seen a different outcome there.
Tobin immediately honed in upon what’s so dreadfully wrong in that statement: Barack Obama is actually boasting about Libya, where al Qaeda has taken over and Obama’s own ambassador was brutally murdered, and about Egypt, which is in the increasingly vice-like control of a radical Islamist wannabe dictator who calls Israel (America’s ally) a nation of apes and pigs that should be wiped from the face of the earth. As Tobin says:
Let me get this straight. President Obama is not merely bragging about a conflict in Libya that led to chaos not only in that country that produced the murders of four Americans including our ambassador. He is also saying that he thinks he positively impacted the outcome of the power struggle in Egypt over the last two years and actually thinks his “leadership” helped create a situation about which we are happy. So what he’s telling us is that he’s not merely pleased with what he did or didn’t do, but that he thinks the current situation in Cairo in which the most populous Arab country is now run by a Muslim Brotherhood government led by a raving anti-Semite is a good thing about which he can brag on national TV.
(You can read the rest of Tobin’s analysis here.)
Most Americans, including the millions of misguided Democrats, won’t celebrate the potential detritus of eight Obama years: America’s economic collapse, Israel’s destruction, the Islamic takeover of the Middle East, and Europe’ ugly retreat to the 1930s. Obama, however, has clearly signaled that he’s going to pat himself on the back for a job well done.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the future is not written in stone. Things can change in an instant. The winner can go down and the loser can suddenly take the lead. Ever since the 2006 Winter Olympics, and Lindsey Jacobellis’ fatal hubris in snowboarding, I’ve always told my kids “winners never quit and quitters never win.”
The only thing that will absolutely and certainly defeat America’s future resurgence as a bastion of individual freedom and success is if we quit. No quitting, guys. Grieve, but come back fighting. (And to cheer you up further, I’m betting that Progressive/Obama overreach and hubris will work in our favor on the road back.)