I’m currently living in what was once the most libertarian state in the country, New Hampshire, until tax refugees from Massachusetts moved in and promptly began to vote for the same kind of politicians that they had just fled from.
For weeks, our home has been bombarded by telephone calls and visits at our front door from Obama supporters. Each time, we politely informed them that we don’t discuss politics with strangers; but their solicitations continued unabated.
Yesterday, Election Day, when we were out for our daily walk, Obama supporters were on the road going door-to-door. They giddily asked us if we had voted yet. Our paths kept crossing as we continued our walk; the image of Bill Murray punching out the insurance salesman in Groundhog Day flashed across my mind. Not wanting to impede my spiritual progress, I quickly adjusted my focus to the beauty of the surrounding forest.
Truthfully though, I feel for these giddy Obama supporters. Many of them are sincere and their hopes will be dashed in short order. For a few years at least, no matter how bad things get, the true believer will not lose faith. As bad as the economy gets, they will believe that Obama’s actions prevented things from being even worse. And they will believe that anybody who opposes these actions is responsible for any of Obama’s failures. Eventually however, even his most ardent admirers will be forced by circumstances to examine the evidence.
I didn’t stay up to listen to Obama’s victory speech, but I read the text this morning. In his speech he said: “There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president.” Nowhere in his speech, or during his campaign, did Obama clearly articulate the principles that would guide his decision-making. Nowhere has he given the slightest indication that the U.S. Constitution will play any part in guiding his decision-making. Nowhere has he given the slightest indications that he understands and values the principles that support prosperity and liberty.
Obama has a strong personality and is one of the most charismatic politicians of modern times. Michael McMaster in his book The Intelligence Advantage writes this about this type of leadership:
Leadership without a distinct theory is merely a phenomenon of personality and will not survive the particular leader. More importantly, it will seldom have more than a temporary impact… The idea of getting from “here” to “there” without an understanding of the process and a theory from which “there” comes is a design for struggle, effort and suffering.
Rather than trying to govern by personality and inevitably by coercion and force, Obama can choose to be a true leader—one that unites people behind common principles. There is no need to invent these principles, the principles that promote liberty and prosperity have already been discovered and articulated. Claims have been made about Obama’s unusual personal brilliance; however, there is no need for that here; all that is needed is the humility to respect, honor, and be a steward of our rich heritage.
Two of the greatest political documents in the history of the planet are the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. In these documents, we find the transcendent idea that human rights are inalienable and are not granted by powers on earth and, its corollary idea, that the powers our government has are very few and defined.
These are documents that reflect loving principles, because they’re based on respect for each individual. Out of that respect comes voluntary action and not force—these are timeless guideposts to liberty and prosperity. Expect the opposite from Obama—actions based on coercion (force)—and the claim that force, in the form of higher taxes, required national service, more regulation, and diminution of personal liberties is necessary to promote the common good.
No one can blame Obama supporters for wanting a change. The Republicans have governed miserably and have indeed helped to create a disastrous mess for this country. However, substituting one unprincipled gang for another will just continue us down our path of ruin. If you want to do more than hope, study the U.S. Constitution, study the principles that promote liberty and prosperity, and insist that your elected politicians do the same.