Barack Obama: Compare and Contrast...

Discussion in 'Politics' started by PoliticalChic, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. PoliticalChic

    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

    Oct 6, 2008
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    Brooklyn, NY
    The election of 1912 saw three left wing champions arise, and, in fact, dominate the lone conservative.

    While similar to the three, Teddy Roosevelt- Woodrow Wilson- Eugene Victor Debs, President Obama also differs in several marked ways…

    Consider the platforms and aims of the three reformers-cum-radicals: to a greater or lesser degree, each is based on an altruistic, better nature of people, and a belief that the right government can produce a utopia here on earth.

    1. Eugene Victor Debs was the Socialist candidate, in 1912 He had his listeners envision a transcendent and fairer social order based on the brotherhood of man, a utopian scheme for a cooperative colony where men and women would work together in harmony with industry and called for a new ‘partnership,’ when “we have stopped clutching at each other’ threats, when we have stopped enslaving each other, we will stand together, hands clasped, and be friends. We will be comrades, we will be brothers, and we will begin the march to the grandest civilization the human race had ever known.” Ray Ginger, “The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene Victor Debs, “p. 266.

    a. Socialist Democratic Party platform: immediate overthrow of capitalism, nationalization of resources, improvement of working conditions, and equality for women. The Socialist platform in 1912 called for collective ownership of all means of transportation and communication and of all large-scale industry; collective ownership of land; collective ownership of the banking and currency system. And shorter working hours for workers; adequate insurance and safety rules; and the end of child labor. It favored woman’s suffrage and proposed to abolish the Senate and deny the president the veto over legislation. The Supreme Court could no longer declare laws unconstitutional, and eliminate federal district and circuit courts. Chace, “1912,” p. 186

    2. The Progressive Party convention opened August 5 in the Coliseum, which had just housed the Republican convention. “It was an assemblage of religious enthusiasts. It was such a convention as [the crusader] Peter the Hermit held. It was a Methodist camp meeting done over into political terms.” NYTimes, August 6, 1912. They sang “Onward Christian Soldiers,” and a play on the revival hymns, as “Follow, follow, we will follow Roosevelt.”

    a. The Bull Moose platform, one based on social justice, included labor’s right to organize, limits on campaign spending, conservation, woman’s suffrage, the 8-hour day, the 6-day work week, insurance for unemployment, old age and sickness.

    b. There was no mention of equal rights for African-Americans.

    c. Eugene V. Debs claimed that the Progressives’ bandana had replace the red flag of socialism. NYTimes, August 14, 1912 Debs: “My prediction that Roosevelt would steal our platform bodily has been fulfilled.”

    3. Woodrow Wilson ran and was elected as a Democrat, but his philosophical outlook, in terms of the role and primacy of government over the individual, identifies him as the quintessential progressive.

    a. "Wilson’s two terms in office provide the clearest historical window into the soul of progressivism. Wilson’s racism, his ideological rigidity, and his antipathy toward the Constitution were all products of the progressive worldview. The First “Progressive” President - Transterrestrial Musings

    b. The progressives, led by President Woodrow Wilson, placed their faith in reason and the better nature of the American people. Expanded government would serve as an engine of popular goodwill to soften the harsh rigors of industrial capitalism. Describing the condition of his fellow intellectuals prior to World War I, Lewis Mumford exclaimed that “there was scarcely one who did not assume that mankind either was permanently good or might sooner or later reach such a state of universal beatitude.” 1919: Betrayal and the Birth of Modern Liberalism by Fred Siegel, City Journal 22 November 2009

    Implicit in the desire for reform was the belief in a more powerful central government to sculpt the nation into utopia. But second-rate politicians saw this as an opportunity to co-opt the movement for their own benefit, to hide behind progressive-radical reform, and grow financially and in omnipotence. Which brings us to the current White House tenant….

    One can find elements of President Obama's programs in the platforms above..and...

    4. “As FDR once described it, the new social contract calls for the people to consent to greater government power in exchange for the government providing them with rights: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, etc. The more power the people give government, the more rights we receive. FDR's New Deal implied that there's nothing to fear from making government bigger and bigger, because political tyranny—at least among advanced nations—is a thing of the past.
    But the New New Deal of President Obama has new aspects as compared to Woodrow Wilson- FDR Progressive agenda:

    5. First, there is the postmodernism that crops up here and there, which insists that there's no truth “out there” by which men can guide their thoughts and actions, it denies the existence of a source of truth, morality, and intelligibility distinct from man. Postmodern liberals admit, then, that there is no objective support—no support in nature or in God or in anything outside of our wills—for liberalism itself. Liberalism in these terms is just a preference. The leading academic postmodernist, the late Richard Rorty, argued that liberals are moral relativists who feel an “aversion to cruelty,” and it's that aversion that makes them liberals. What sets liberals apart is the way they feel: President Obama calls this feeling empathy.

    6. The second new element in President Obama's liberalism is even more striking than its postmodernism. It is how uncomfortable he is with American exceptionalism—and thus with America itself. President Obama considers this country deeply flawed from its very beginnings. He means not simply that slavery and other kinds of fundamental injustice existed, which everyone would admit. He means that the Declaration of Independence, when it said that all men are created equal, did not mean to include blacks or anyone else who is not a property-holding, white, European male—an argument put forward infamously by Chief Justice Roger Taney in the Dred Scott decision, and one that was powerfully refuted by Abraham Lincoln.

    7. Unlike most Americans, President Obama still bristles at any suggestion that our nation is better or even luckier than other nations. To be blunt, he despises the notion that Americans consider themselves special among the peoples of the world. This strikes him as the worst sort of ignorance and ethnocentrism, which is why it was so difficult for him to decide to wear an American flag lapel pin when he started running for president, even though he knew it was political suicide to refuse wearing it. To put it differently, he regards patriotism as morally and intellectually inferior to cosmopolitanism.” (emphasis mine)

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