The approaching nomination of Senator Barrack Obama by the American Democratic Party, is being heralded in the media, and among those prominent on the American Left, as a milestone in our political history. It is indeed a milestone, but the popular focus on that phenomenon is somewhat off target. In our opinion, neither the Senator's radical proposals, nor his partial non-Caucasoid ancestry, is the most significant aspect of his candidacy; rather it is the absence of what, in any other era, would be an expected reaction among rooted Americans to the Senator's success.
As for the Senator, himself, we will address what we think may be fairly stated, both as to the good and bad; what is fitting and what is not; what has merit and what has not, and the difference between gratitude and arrogance. We will also treat, briefly, the subject of change in any society; to distinguish between changes that are tantamount to growth, and those which are tantamount only to destruction.
On July 2nd, we posted the following brief comment to a number of usenet forums:
At first blush, it sounds like a nice attitude, when Senator Obama says that he will never question another man's patriotism. But a closer look will reveal how inappropriate it would be for the Senator to ever, in fact, do so.
While Senator Obama may, technically, be allowed to run for President if he was, in fact, born in the United States--a Constitutional requirement;--he is, at best, only an accidental American. His father did not come here as a settler, nor as an immigrant. He came purely as a student, a citizen of Kenya from a small minority tribe in that land on the opposite side of Africa. He finished his studies and returned home, leaving his wife, of a brief period, with the baby Senator. She then removed the baby Senator to Indonesia--apparently to avoid association with other Americans--but eventually the young Obama came back.
It is only because so many Americans have been conditioned by the media & Leftist academics to be embarrassed in taking pride in their own heritage & lines of descent, that the accident of Senator Obama's Americanism is not the subject for humor at every dinner table; at the bar in every pub; on vehicles of public transportation; and in a million phone calls by the hour. Yet, somehow, this new indifference to family and ethnicity does not fit in a land, which used to be described in our song "America," as "Land where my fathers died." One supposes that the new version will proclaim, "Land that my father visited."
Yes, folks. But somehow that does not quite seem the way that "preserved us a nation," in The Star Spangled Banner.
The post drew some nasty comments, assailing the author. It also drew one, which deserved a response; one useful, in offering a chance to make an important distinction. The poster suggested that we were off the mark in seeming to judge the Senator by his parents' behavior, rather than his own merit; that such was not the way one should be judged in a nation that had always respected, even honored, the individual. While the point of our post had not been directed to any judgment of Senator Obama, one way or another--rather to changes in the way the general population responded to the phenomenon represented by the Senator's success--the responder's point deserved attention. This web site is as oriented to the individual as almost any on the internet. Let us, then, examine what is relevant in respect to which issue.
Clearly, in assessing Senator Obama's character, ability, intelligence, behavior and ideas, he should be judged as an individual. While his personal traits will to a very large extent reflect the particular genetic combinations that resulted in his conception, it is not material to a fair assessment of his exhibited personal traits that his father was a Luo tribesman from Kenya, just passing through, or that his mother may have had some sort of aversion to rooted Americans. While he has his parents' genes, what he does with the combination will prove, indeed, the measure of the man. Thus we can recognize that Senator Obama--in comparison to many of his political contemporaries--seems quite intelligent; quite eloquent; both sincere and caring.
Yet, while a good speaker, by today's sorry standards, the level of Obama's oratory is markedly inferior to what would have been acceptable in America prior to the terrible war of the 1860s. The Obama approach is far too sloganized; his development of issues far too superficial; his grasp of the human experience far too clearly shaped by the egalitarian, heavily Marxist influenced, climate in contemporary American "Higher Education." He stands out, today, solely because of a decline in our level of political discussion & debate--a subject frequently dealt with at this venue. He also benefits from deliberate efforts, in the academic world, to convince gullible White Americans, that they are somehow responsible for many, if not most, of the problems of the rest of humanity. We believe that some have seen his candidacy as a way to purge their fantasies of imaginary guilt.
But our post on "An Accidental American" was not about Senator Obama's worth as an individual. It was about a Nation losing its normal defensive mechanisms, losing its sense of identity. And a nation is not about an array of disparate individuals, each "doing his own thing." It is not a game of "musical chairs," as it were; where it little matters who occupies which particular chair, at any given instant in time.
A Nation is about families, with common multi-generational purpose & values; about continuity in the pursuit of shared goals; about common history, kinship, kindred lines of descent; shared triumphs & defeats, achievements & failures: A common vision of a linked posterity, unique from that of any other folk or nation. Our point, in posting "An Accidental American," was derived from recognition of a failing perception of the traditional Nation. And, yes, it does make a difference, in how one views the Obama candidacy, that his father was just 'passing through.' Thus, while that candidacy, itself, was not the point; we might suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, it is not quite fitting for one, here only because his father happened to pass through some of the member States, to be campaigning on a repeated promise to "change America."
To run the 'rascals' out of Government might be well and good. But it is not Senator Obama's place to tell the rest of us, that we must change an existing Nation, its heritage & traditions. Again, a Nation is about family, lines of descent, the multi-generational process of building on past achievements, cultural and material, of an ethnically definable people. America is all about her rooted families; about building on their past achievements, their traditions, mores and identity; on their shared experiences in the pursuit of common goals, so well defined at America's birth.
We have freely acknowledged Senator Obama's intelligence and effectiveness as a public speaker. We think that he is probably sincere in his stated beliefs. They are, of course, very different than those of traditional America, offering more of all the very worst trends of the post "New Deal" era. While Obama has been criticized for not providing more explicit details as to how his programs would work, he is little different in this than the present Republican President; one, who has never displayed much, if any, grasp of the underlying dynamics of a political/social economy. But unlike many other intellectual lightweights, in this era of pitiful politics & inept politicians--although Senator Obama's sloganized rants may generalize like the rest--the focus is even more towards imagined universal, one humanity, "solutions" to every major problem or concern.
Obama talks about unity in America, but also about a world-wide attack on poverty. The approach is not the flirtation with Socialist egalitarian objectives that has characterized the rhetoric of others on the Democratic Left. Listen carefully to some of what he stresses. He really believes that collectivism is the correct approach to the human experience. Even when Obama, in addressing the NAACP convention last month, called for more individual & family responsibility in dealing with the social problems of the American Negro; he coupled that call with his repeated one to "change" America; with his call for a "more perfect union," to solve the problems of Mankind. The Senator's implied premise, like Karl Marx & Adolph Hitler's in Europe earlier, is always a subordination of the individual & family to the collective.
Of course, Obama's "more perfect union" has absolutely nothing in common with that referenced in the Preamble to the Constitution. The Fathers of America sought merely a functional perfection of the Articles of Confederation; their purpose, to better perfect a common market, a reliable currency, the ability to defend against other nations & foreign interests--in short, the common economic & military needs of particular federated peoples and their "posterity." They never sought consolidation of power over the diverse social conditions, or philosophic values, of the many unique communities in the constituent Republics that formed the new federation. They never intended a common role over local education, health, morals or patterns of personal association. The philosophic difference, here, is that between Magna Carta & Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany.
Nor did America's Founding Fathers ever imagine American resources being squandered to pamper human failure all over the earth. Yet the Senator does not stop with a collectivist challenge to the American tradition at home. He has made it clear that he favors an enormous increase in the already extravagant distribution of American resources overseas. Obama would eliminate poverty, world-wide, by impoverishing the people he claims to serve! The avowed Obama purpose, here, is again the factual antithesis to that of the American Union. For one, with one familial foot still clearly rooted in a people who might be expected to benefit from such a program, to take such a stand, goes well beyond what is merely inappropriate. In this, at least, Obama moves even to the Left of the National Socialists.
While foreign aid to such purpose would actually be as corrupting and self-defeating--as great a destroyer of normal incentives--as Federal involvement in Welfare programs has been to America; that is not the most essential point. The Constitution conveys no such functional purpose. The explicit function has always been the general (common) interests of Americans and their posterity. That can never justify redistribution of their wealth, either at home or abroad--not even for an illusory (fantasy) benefit to the rest of Mankind.
Obama's carefully measured cadence & occasional bursts of a species of middle-brow eloquence, can not hide the fact that his orientation is collectivist, and collectivist to an extent that makes the FDRs, LBJs, Bill Clintons & George W. Bushes, look positively conservative.
A nation is a specific people; not a territorial domain. The culture of a nation reflects the people of that nation--is, indeed, an expression of the personality of such nation. People create their culture; not culture people. A people, free to develop to their optimum potential, build on past achievements, generation by generation. This was once better understood. But as Leftist ideology has come to permeate more & more American educational institutions, media and politics, our people have been conditioned to think less & less of the importance of lines of descent or multi-generational family purpose. Little or no attention is now given to how we actually achieved levels of culture or affluence; far more to the endlessly iterated wish lists of Leftist theorists & demagogues. We have forgotten that positive change means building on a firm foundation--both economic and spiritual!
Instead, we have embraced "changes" based upon the destruction and replacement of institutions and concepts that had been the foundation for all, which once defined us. Wherever one looks, the rubble abounds, even as wish-borne confusion compounds every major problem.
Have 20th Century Welfare programs alleviated or aggravated concerns flowing from a large & growing underclass, who live in conditions that offend wish-driven "reformers"; those who formulate schemes to change how other folks live? By subsidizing both human failure, without regard to the real causes for that failure, and a higher birthrate among those most likely to fail, the "reformers" have greatly increased the numbers of those who live under those disdained conditions. By allowing unskilled or little skilled immigrants, often here illegally, to enjoy those same Welfare "benefits," they have further aggravated the "problem" that they wished to alleviate: The whole experience greatly increasing the burdens of a once respected middle class.
Has an increasing Federal role in education solved or aggravated problems associated with any underlying concern? Earlier generations of Americans, building on the legacy of the Founding Fathers, recognized that education was primarily the responsibility of individual families; that community schools were an aid, not a replacement, for the primary responsibility of parents to prepare their children for life; that community schools, even where encouraged by land set-asides, in territories opened for new settlement, remained the responsibility of each community served; that such community schools properly represented the values & priorities of their rooted citizens. Federal, and sometimes even State, involvement in a local school system can be very counter-productive. Remote directives, and layers of bureaucrats interacting with one another, can only waste funds and stifle the unique, child by child, interactive processes, so essential to a recognition of the problems and possibilities applicable to each individual--the child by child focus, so necessary to convey the maximum actual benefit to each child.
Nothing more clearly illustrates the folly of collectivist policy towards education, than the ludicrous concept underlying the "No Child Left Behind" policy of the Federal Government. The very title should offend anyone not totally cowed by the egalitarian mania on the Left. Everyone reading this, has had sufficient exposure in his own school years--or, if home schooled, in interaction with members of his own family--to have recognized the fact that children do not have equal, or even approximately equal, aptitudes. One child will always be better than another in any particular subject; some are good in many subjects; some good in but few, some good in almost none; but clearly, there is nothing more certain than that potentials differ, and differ widely. The only way you can achieve "No Child Left Behind" in any school, is by stultifying--totally stultifying--the ability to excel; and no goal could possibly be more destructive!
Do not similar dynamics produce analogous results in virtually every other area where "reform" has altered the conceptual foundation--as opposed to building on past achievement? Obama's chanting vow to "change" America, could reduce Americans to a collection of foolish children, following a rapping Pied Piper to our destruction.
We recognize that Senator Obama's situation is not that of the immigrant, who asks acceptance into an existing American society and then, upon becoming a citizen, turns on that society, and seeks to change it. It was not Senator Obama's choice to be born here; not his decision, even constructively, that his father chose to pass through. Yet when he ran for the second highest office in the State of Illinois, when he sought to be their representative to the Federal Government of the United States; he took advantage of the achievements of ethnic Americans--as, when elected, he swore to uphold their Constitutional mandates and purpose. Surely, somewhere in the process, he accepted benefits won by better men over many generations, in domains through which he now struts in pursuit of power over the present generation of their descendants. Does he owe no duty to those descendants, even as he utilizes their fathers' achievement? Is it consistent with such duty, or only arrogance, that he seeks to redefine the heritage that was their fathers' ultimate accomplishment--the ultimate gift to their posterity?
These are not times when truth or honor is given the importance, once considered appropriate. Perhaps, one should not expect much better for gratitude. Yet it is, indeed, an unfortunate milestone, when even gratitude joins its yet more significant brothers among those things which were rather than are.
Throughout history, there have been periods--sooner or later affecting virtually every land--where the common folk have stood outside their humble cottages, scratching their heads, wondering what armed strangers marching through their village, plain or valley, might mean for their future--if any. Does the Obama phenomenon portend that our time is coming; that we are about to become mere spectators in our own future? A people, who have lost any real sense of an ongoing identity, may already be at that point.