The Silver Lining of the Obama Presidency: A Left/Right Coalition?
Note: This piece is written in response to PolicyMic Contributing Writer Sam Hamilton's original article on the topic.
In his recent piece concerning the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency, Samuel Hamilton argues that President Obama should be praised for his legislative victories and his ability to compromise on important issues. Obama's accomplishments or failures can be (and have been) debated ferociously, and Hamilton makes some excellent points about how much criticism of Obama has been unfair and partisan.
Halfway through his first term, what the Obama presidency is accomplishing has less to do with the utility of his proposed policies, but more to do with the fact these policies are bringing a welcome and radical ideological shift.
When former presidential candidate Ralph Nader appeared on Andrew Napolitano's "Freedom Watch" last week and lavishly praised Republican Congressman Ron Paul and the "conservative/libertarian wing of the Tea Party," there emerged the silver lining of the Obama administration: the possibility of a Left/Right coalition that could shake up American political discourse for years to come.
Despite Obama's sobering rhetoric, his insistence on fulfilling President George W. Bush's third term is warping the traditional partisan divide. Obama, the "liberal Democrat," has extended the PATRIOT Act, expanded the war in Afghanistan and spread it into Pakistan, is launching unmanned drone strikes in multiple countries, and has drastically increased cartelizing state intervention into the marketplace.
As dangerous and counterproductive as these policies are, they are having the unintentional consequence of disrupting the outdated liberal/conservative divide.
When it comes to policy, liberals and conservatives in power vary little, and every few years they swap control of the federal government and reward the political interests that helped get them elected. This "divide-and-conquer" strategy has been used for centuries, where citizens bicker and quarrel with one another while ignoring those in power that tax, loot, spend, and bury them in debt.
Thanks to the spread of the Internet and the availability of nearly instantaneous information, issues are beginning to be framed not in Left or Right, but in terms of individual liberty vs. government control.
For example, in a poll taken last December, a significant majority of Americans supported auditing the counterfeiters at the Federal Reserve. Coincidentally, a bill (HR 1207) proposed on the House floor by Congressman Paul (R-TX) that aimed to audit the Fed received support from arch-conservative Senator Jim Demint (R-SC) and admitted socialist Bernie Sanders (I-VT). HR 1207 currently has over 320 co-sponsors in the House, which also means that there a lot of Congressmen who love having their own printing presses in order to sell F-22s and bailout crooked banks.
What do Left and Right exactly mean when Noam Chomsky and Naomi Wolf are criticizing the Obama administration for it's economic corporatism and expansion of Bush's "war on terror" and conservatives are supporting gay marriage and the financial costs of military empire?
Since 21st century America resembles the Soviet Empire more than the peaceful, commercial Republic Thomas Jefferson envisioned, Left and Right are recognizing that it is coercive state power that lies at the heart of the mess we're in. It is radical, yes, but a system of government that imprisons millions, takes half of your income, and wages perpetual war deserves a radical opposition.
Restoring the Bill of Rights, stopping corporate welfare, sound money, starving the Pentagon; these are things Americans (especially younger generations) are getting behind now that they are refusing to be boxed into labels of Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative.
So thank you Mr. Obama (and you neocons too) for digging us into an even deeper mess. You have bankrupted our grandchildren and left foreign cities in ashes, and we're fed up. You have shown the American people that Democrat bombs maim just like Republican bombs, that deficits and violations of personal liberty grow no matter who is in charge.
In other words, there is no such thing as "abusing power;" power itself is the abuse. And with every new war and corporatist law, a Left/Right coalition with this axiom as its flag will only grow.
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