The purpose of this blog is to get readers to think about the complex (or perhaps simple) issues I write about.

The primary topics will revolve around politics and society as a whole, but a mixture of sports opinion may be thrown in from time to time.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Obama, and "Forward"

Barack Obama's 2012 campaign slogan has been picked. "Forward". One word, every American who's older than eight can read it and say it. Maybe MSNBC feels like it's been ripped off? I don't know, I think at best it can be lauded as a word that symbolizes where we want to go as a nation, but as a critic, it lacks originality, especially considering the source.

Out of the ashes of "Democrat" arose "Liberal." Once "Liberal" politicians had their worldview questioned, they needed a new self-identifier. So while "Liberal" is still used in first and second person descriptions, "Progressive" became the ideal nom de guerre. And what does the term "Progress" insinuate? Forward movement...

So it's not like the multi-cultural intellectual from Chicago who's got two Ivy League degrees went out on a limb, with "Forward." Then again, it's not like Presidential incumbents to be as boisterous in their symbolic campaign rhetoric as they were when aspiring to the office. Still, given the history and current buzzword-of-self-identification being "Progressive," "Forward" just seems a little obvious.

"Forward" has a meaning though, and like many English words it can hint at something beyond its own definition, and in the case of the campaign slogan, "Forward" we know exactly what it is hinting at.

Liberals, Progressives, and thus Barack Obama all agree that Forward easily defines what they all feel about the responsibilities of the State. Barack Obama and his like-minded cohorts believe that the State is the engine which drives us through our own history. For Barack Obama, Forward doesn't just mean "let's keep moving on to make the changes necessary and continue to address old and new problems with modern solutions." It's Obama's belief that since its the State that drives us forward, it is the State that brings this "Progress" I've been discussing.

Now there is no doubt that government, big or small, is a powerful force in bringing about change, and debating here whether or not any change is inherently good or bad is a subjective discussion to have later. Where Obama and Progressives writ-large fail to acknowledge is that there are indeed other drivers of change, which conflicts with their worldview.

If you need examples, I think the cellular telephone and the internet have monumentally driven more change than James Buchanan or Ronald Reagan. And sure, there are examples where the State can and has positively effected change, such as the (rather constant) modernization of the workforce (labor laws), and even in more fringe areas, such as food safety. But hell! The microwave has had brought about more change in American history than what passes for public policy in America these days. 

The problem for Obama and his ideological allies is that they tend to see everything in light of the State's actions. That means when we move "Forward" we must do so with full-throated belief that the State will lead us there. And frankly it's not entirely their fault for coming to this worldview.

The notion that the State is the most effective (and thus out of necessity should be the only) vehicle that leads us forward into a more positive, "better" future has nicely fit with our own general ideas about what America is, if not, what it should be. Progressives always strive for the better "decade" or "century" or they talk with flowery prose about a "new era" of doing X, Y, or Z.

For Progressives and indeed Barack Obama, American History is viewed as a Chevy Volt with no "Reverse" gear, with the State being the "striven for" lithium ion battery. This has been the language used since the Progressive era of the early 20th century, that has become so vulcanized into stone that our news media's characterization of any expansion of the State into our lives as inherently "forward thinking" or "an investment in our future." It's also what prohibits journalists from describing any questioning of the State's expansion, or on the rare occasion its, recoil, as inherently "backward."

Who wants to be backward? In fact, "Forward" is making more sense as I've written to this point. How many times has Obama himself used a car analogy in talking about his domestic policy agenda versus those of his opponents? "Republicans want to throw the car into reverse!" Any time someone like Paul Ryan brings up a market based reform? He wants to "turn back the clock!" on (some group of people that benefits from government largess).

Oh, and GOD forbid, should their be any attempt to re-visit, re-legislate, or repeal legislation passed by a Progressive president or Congress that's sole policy purpose is to create new State entitlement programs for the people. Just as Lyndon B. Johnson supposedly made a "covenant" with the American people when he signed the going-bankrupt entitlement we call Medicare into law, Barack Obama made a covenant with the American people, over six out of ten people didn't want him to make, when he freed us from the burden of "rising health insurance premiums" with his signature piece of Progressive health legislation.

In the mind of a Progressive, signature Progressive legislation that his signed into law is also somehow vulcanized into stone and can never be touched or cracked again. The problem with this inherent, and at most turns, accepted line of thinking is that Presidents and what they've done or do not do cannot bind Presidents that follow him in the fraternity. No more does the actions of the 56th Congress bind the 112th Congress from any action.

When your conception of American History is a vector that stops for nothing, not even to pause and reflect at its own, obvious "progress," the points they've scored on the way can never be taken off the board. To them "Forward" is the only way, it's accepted and never questioned by the profession who has a duty to do so. What could be more simple, more easily accepted as the notion that the next four years are ones where a Progressive's vision for our history take us "Forward" because we know that backwards is behind us?

With a media that is complacent in the Chevy Volt of our History being driven by the Lithium Ion Battery that is our massive and intrusive State, I can't think of a better campaign slogan than "Forward." For the next six months, Barack Obama will make it known to the American public that he wants to drive American History forward, and his opponent, thus, must want to throw us into the reverse gear his plans, "our" plans for the future don't call for. There's just one problem.

The Lithium Ion Battery in a Chevy Volt only brings us 50 miles into the future, before the "backward-looking" internal combustion engine has to step in and keep us running efficiently.

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