Since I created this Blog, I have wanted to write something about liberty and libertarianism. It is a topic that brings out the passion in me and was a driving reason for creating this Blog. But where to begin has been quite a stumbling point. There is so much ground to cover, so many wonderful ideas and concepts to explore. And recently my thoughts have been on other things frankly. Lately I have been thinking about my mom and finally confronting how I feel about her absence from my life since she died last Christmas. So what better way to introduce some thoughts on liberty and libertarianism than to share a letter I sent to my mom a few years ago. Some background.
It was early 2009 and soon after President Obama’s inauguration. Obama had been elected the previous fall and my mom was VERY excited and happy about the “hope and change” that was coming after 8 years of President Bush. To my mother Bush was the acme of evil (and stupidity) but, as she was a dyed in the wool, true bleeding heart liberal, every Republican was a potential Satan spawn to her. No wonder she and my dad divorced! Anyway, she had called me about the inauguration and asked if I was as excited as she was. She was thrilled that a black man had been elected President of the United States. When I told her that I was not excited at all, she hung up on me. After I looked at the phone in disbelief for a moment, I laughed so hard. I should have expected she would not take that answer kindly. But because she was more enthused about Obama’s election than I remember her being about any election in my lifetime, I thought she deserved an explanation for why I said I was not. So I wrote the following letter to her (Keep in mind this was written in 2009. I think my predictions have been pretty accurate):
Here is why I am not excited about Obama being our president:
The basic answer is that nothing has changed. In fact, I believe that things will become worse because a man of color is going to be the one holding the reins of power. This is not because an African-American is incapable, unworthy, immoral or whatever racist attribute may be cast upon me for stating the above. It is because NO man should hold as much power as he will hold. And as an African American president, I believe that it will be harder to hold Obama accountable for fear of racism accusations.
As much as I was outraged by the Bush regime’s unitary executive agenda with consolidation of power in the presidency, undertaken with the resulting diminishment of our civil liberties at home, the withering of goodwill abroad about Americans, the concept of pre-emptive warfare (the same concept proposed by Hitler as justification for his numerous invasions) and the needless torture and death of thousands of human beings by our government’s actions since 2001, this next president will do more harm than his predecessor. How can you say this cry the hopeful Obama minions? Here is why I say this.
Obama may do many things seemingly less harmful than his predecessor. But have no doubts that there is one thing he will not do; decrease the power of the presidency and the State. In fact, I believe that I will see the next 4-8 years bring even further expansion of presidential powers and State domination. The hopeful masses who think that we have done some wonderful form of atonement by electing a black president will in unison say Obama is a good man and will certainly be an improvement over Bush. That may be true, yet my position stands that Obama is no savior. Indeed, after his term(s) of office I am certain I will be less free than before. Here is why I think this.
Obama may close down Guantanamo. He may not use the unconstitutional (no matter what the Supreme Court has ruled) surveillance powers created by Bush. Although I suspect his administration will defend these practices in Court once he is president. He may ease of out of war in Iraq, although with the continued erection of mega military bases; true withdrawal will be a sham. While Obama may not kidnap and torture “enemy combatants” in the State’s War on Terror (a term designed to be so incapable of definition as to escape restraints on time or application) he will not cede away the power to do so. Indeed Obama has publicly stated his intention to keep prisoners indefinitely without charges or trial, but the practice is to be called “prolonged detention”. While he may not start another preemptive and unjustified war (I am unconvinced on this since it seems Obama is going to escalate our involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan as was shown by his predator drone bombing in Pakistan within hours of his oath of office, but time will judge) he will not cede the power to unconstitutionally commit such aggression in the future. While Obama may not himself order the unlawful detention, torture, and rendition of the State’s “enemies”, he will not prosecute any officials for having done so already. And this power will remain in wait for a president that will eventually reenact these horrors. Indeed, it may be that a “crisis” will occur that may “force” Obama to undertake “reluctantly” these same policies.
While Obama did not order the unconstitutional bailouts and effective nationalization of many of the nation’s financial institutions, he will not repudiate these actions and return to a free market economy and philosophy. Rather, he has decreed we will see increased government involvement and takeover of the economy. While Obama did not order the Federal Reserve printing presses to run non-stop during the Greenspan/Bernanke years, he will not order them stopped and has stated the solution is to run them faster under the title “quantitative easing”. While Obama did not personally create the latest boom and bust cycle, he will use the power of the State in a futile attempt to re-inflate the balloon, burdening our future prosperity with overwhelming debt and creating the conditions for another boom-bust cycle. Obama did not create the military-industrial-welfare State, but he will expand it—all of it.
Expanding debt. More welfare; corporate and individual. More government at all levels. Decreased liberty. No accountability demanded of the Federal Reserve. Risk of hyper-inflation and/or currency debasement. More War; Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. Continued encirclement of Russia. More surveillance. More government control over our personal health decisions.
I do not hate Obama. I understand the desperation of many for any hope after the last 8 years. I understand that seeing a black man attain the presidency makes it seem that American culture must be improving over the days of Jim Crow laws. But I do not think the color of a president’s skin is important at all. But his choices of men and women to help run this country do not offer encouragement that much will change. They are all establishment types. They are pro-war, pro-Israel, and pro-Keynesian. The targets and the recipients of government largess and abuse may change, but the leviathan that is the State will grow and grow. And the cult of personality that has emerged around this President, the unabashed love-affair with all things Obama, will make it that much harder to keep the State and an unrestrained presidency in check. This can only be harmful to my freedom, my liberty, my country.
I wish I had been more wrong about the Obama presidency – for my mom’s sake at least. She became so disillusioned because she really expected his presidency to be completely different than the Bush presidency. But as a libertarian, I knew that other than some cosmetic differences between the two, Obama’s presidency would almost be like another 4 years of Bush-more government, more war, less liberty.