Is the continuing oil spill disaster off the coast of Louisiana the final nail in the coffin for the country’s short-lived infatuation with the notion of government as the omnipotent provider of all things good?
It took an unhappy series of events to put Pres. Barack Obama and his vision of barely-restrained liberalism in the White House: a Republican Party that had been retreating from the conservative antidote to this, small but prolonged and nagging foreign conflicts that taxed a nation historically impatient in the realm of international affairs, and economic problems prompted by liberalism’s own prescriptions but whose followers won a public relations battle to shield themselves from the blame. Add to that the trait that the American public by and large doesn’t pay much attention to politics and then only episodically and few of it understand history and economics, and the rare condition emerged.
However, reality glares harshly and cannot be changed by fiat, no matter how slickly or forcefully the alternatives to it are presented. Eventually, the contradictions of policy versus reality have become so invasive into people’s lives that increasingly they and more of them perceive the vastness between what was promised and what is reality. That has been an ongoing process relative to the Obama Administration since its inception, and the predictable political deterioration has been surprising only by its rate of acceleration, for as a pendulum is drawn further back, its speed to swing back increases dramatically.
Of course, the policy failures based upon the belief that big government knows better than do people what to do with their resources have mounted for Obama and his Democrat allies in Congress: horrifically high spending levels that have retarded economic performance, continue to nudge unemployment higher, and promise crippling inflation in the future; financially ruinous changes in health care provision laws designed to empower ultimately government and the expense of the quality of people’s health care; catering to special interests such as unions, unscientific environmentalism, those who blame America first for any evil in the world, etc.; foreign policy that embraces enemies and chastises friends – and this represents only what has come into being, not what has been sidetracked. The fundamental wrongness of these policies has been realized in an increasing number of Americans’ consciousnesses, resulting in declining poll numbers and a growing sense of catastrophe at the polls for Democrats in November.
Yet the month-long gushing of oil into the Gulf may end up as the straw that breaks the camel’s back, clarifying the invalidity of Obama’s claims. Obama has overpromised again and again, believing that if he says something often and forcefully enough that enough people will buy it to allow his ilk to maintain enough power to keep remaking America into something it is not. His shtick rests on propagating the myth that government knows better than people how to order their lives and to produce prosperity, based on the false beliefs that free enterprise inherently produces unjust results and thereby those who acquire wealth from it must be penalized to atone, that societal institutions need government-directed reform to create equality, and that these poison our relations with other peoples so that we put our presumably selfish interests ahead of those of humanity, leading to oppression of the world.
But the oil keeps spewing. Commissions are formed, hearings held, threats and made against the industry and withdrawn, the rhetoric continues but so does the impotence of the federal government. The oil keeps coming out, and the eyes of the people open more to the fact this is one more promise not kept by Obama’s big government philosophy.
Worse for Obama is that he is getting shown up by Gov. Bobby Jindal. While exhorting for the problem to be solved, sometimes with critical language, Jindal has been taking action even when the federal government seems balky. In doing so at a macro level, Jindal has been presenting a contrasting view of the role of government – to act only under well-defined and limited situations, instead of as an intrusive agent claimed to solve all problems and said to provide for individuals desires, even if people have the capacity to provide for themselves. Most of the American public won’t conceptualize it to that degree, only vaguely aware of Jindal, but they will process at a micro level that Jindal is doing something reasonable to deliver, abjuring use of the incident as an assault on the oil industry in particular and the free enterprise system in general as Obama and Democrats are doing.
When asked to evaluate political philosophy, most Americans, who just want to get on with their lives, can be quite slow on the uptake and preternaturally drawn to the simplistic bromides of liberalism. But experience helps them to inculcate the complex verities of conservatism, and this event may be the one that crystallizes in their minds the limitations and false promises of liberalism to lead to its decisive rejection at the very least now and perhaps far into the future. If there is a silver lining to this looming economic and ecological disaster, that is it.