Democratic Convention 2016

Obama's Right: We Don't "Look to Be Ruled." So Stop Ruling Us Already!

Democrats refuse to understand how telling people and businesses what they can and can't do is also authoritarianism

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President Barack Obama, in the course of giving a pretty darned effective speech last night at the Democratic National Convention, uncorked one of the better two-liners in his presidency. "Our power doesn't come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way," he said. "We don't look to be ruled."

As T.A. Frank observed over at Vanity Fair, "Many lines by many speakers were delivered, of course, but none quite measured up to that one." It wasn't just the callback to America's founding vibe, it was the almost exasperated amusement with which he delivered it. Trump's strongman authoritarianism, the president was indicating, is self-evidently ridiculous:

Even if the descriptive accuracy was questionable (if a significant number of Americans didn't look to be ruled, why would Donald Trump have won the Republican nomination?), as an aspirational idea Obama's formulation was spot-on. Don't you go treading on me, politician!

If only President Obama and the Democratic Party governed like he talks.

The organizing dissonance of this convention is one that Reason TV's Zach Weissmueller so skillfully documented on Opening Day: Democrats do not understand how extracting taxpayer money to tell taxpayers what they can and can't do with their money and their lives is an act of forcible coercion, too.

Banning fracking or outlawing "assault weapons" or requiring businesses to pay workers $15 an hour, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo bragged about tonight, requires pitting police power against the actions of a free people. Protecting children from risqué media, as Hillary Clinton has tried to do her whole career, means conducting a sustained assault against the First Amendment. To paraphrase Gary Johnson supporter and Reason Foundation Trustee Drew Carey, daddy-state authoritarianism and mommy-state authoritarianism is still authoritarianism.

Bill Clinton's show-stopper of a speech Tuesday night included an eye-glazing number of government programs his wife has helped push through over the years—increasing the number nurse practitioners in rural Arkansas, requiring elementary schools to have counselors, raising sales taxes to increase teacher pay, expanding pre-school, creating the federal Children's Health Insurance Program, getting emergency money to New York post-9/11, extending family leave…it just kind of goes forever. While it's folly to expect too much introspection at a political convention, what's striking is that almost never do you hear about whether a program is actually working. Cost-benefit analyses are not required. It is enough to say, "There is a victim class or predatory corporate class, and we either gave them money or restricted their latitude." Good intentions are what matter, not performance.

That thinking, and the political opportunism of finding causes that No Decent Person Could Oppose, is why you have things like federal emergency-declarations growing from 28 during Ronald Reagan's presidency to 44 under George H.W. Bush to 90 under Bill Clinton to 130 under George W. Bush and 153 under Obama by just his fifth year in office. That thinking is why the Democrats have just flat-out stopped talking about the country's $19 trillion debt, and have instead embraced expanding, rather than reforming, entitlements.

Spending other's people money—including on massive debt service payments—and restricting their behavior, amounts to "ruling" over them. Judging by this convention, Democrats want to rule over as much as if not more than they ever have.

NEXT: Wise words about the much-too-criticized passive voice

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  1. “….Democrats do not understand how extracting taxpayer money to tell taxpayers what they can and can’t do with their money and their lives is an act of forcible coercion, too.

    Banning fracking or outlawing “assault weapons” or requiring businesses to pay workers $15 an hour, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo bragged about tonight, requires pitting police power against the actions of a free people.”

    This is where the ‘deprogramming’ should begin. Start having people recognize one man’s ‘feel good initiative’ leads to the stomping of another man’s rights. Democrats, Liberals, progressives, leftists – whatever – have to be made to understand there’s an unseen cost to their policies. We’ve reached a point, however, where it’s not unseen anymore as the results are clearly there for us to observe.

    1. the results are clearly there for us to observe

      Almost the entirety of the northern two-thirds of the state he is governing would be a good place to start looking.

      1. What’s up with Upstate NY anyway? It’s so…so…I’m not sure.

        1. Economically depressed?

          I’m from Rochester. It is criminal what the Dem’s policies are doing to that region.

        2. Being a Texan I am frequently painted with the brush of a slow witted Southerner by those who live north of the Mason-Dixon. I was even called an illiterate hillbilly by one vaunted Reason poster who is reputed to wear out mirrors on a regular basis.

          When I was young I met a true hillbilly. He was from upstate New York. This guy was so backwards country that he put to shame anyone that I had every met, full stop. This guy was so ignorant that he probably accurately matched the caricature that the WART tries to impose on those who live south of the Mason- Dixon.

          1. The Appalachians do reach well into upstate NY.

            1. And those who live in them where they are in New York are indeed New Yorkers ?

              1. Technically, sure.

          2. It’s really funny how the supposedly anti-racist “progressives” are totally comfortable with collectively insulting rural white people, but if someone did that with urban blacks, they’d be tarred and feathered.

            How many times have you heard “progressives” mocking conservative voters by putting on a phony Southern accent and saying, “Shucks, I don’t want no queers gettin’ married or wimmin gettin’ dem abortions!”

            Now imagine their reaction if someone did an imitation of African-American vernacular and said, “Sheeit, I be finna vote fo’ Hillary so I can gets mah welfare checks!”

            They’d have a brain aneurysm over the latter, but it’s really no different than the former.

            1. I’m from rural NY/PA stock even though I grew up in the city. I’m comfortable in either setting and I don’t truck with that kind of animosity – it’s so ugly.

            2. They’re allowed to do that because of their extraordinarily successful rebranding campaign. They redefined ‘hate’ and ‘bigotry’ to mean antipathy toward certain specific groups that happen to be part of their electoral cartel. The surest path toward self-improvement is redefining one’s vices as virtues.

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  2. Americans don’t look to be ruled, you say? Au contraire, mon fr?re.

  3. No, but a large portion of the citizenry wants government to grid, chart, sort, categorize and partition us on every matrix possible.

  4. We look for government to rule OTHER people.

    1. Exactly. Voters are willing to sacrifice other people’s liberty for security. Tyranny of the majority, peasant.

  5. “Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way,”

    What he neglected to say was that this is the actual text of E.O. 220100233, which he just signed earlier today.

  6. Obama’s Right

    Even if the descriptive accuracy was questionable (if a significant number of Americans didn’t look to be ruled, why would Donald Trump have won the Republican nomination?),

    If only President Obama and the Democratic Party governed like he talks.

    President Barack Obama, in the course of giving a pretty darned effective speech

    Bill Clinton’s show-stopper of a speech

    Those cocktail party invites don’t make themselves you know.

  7. My ( for now until I get sick of this shit) GF uses “Republican” as a curse word, an insult. The other day I made some observation about Bernie’s supporters being upset, and she started going of on me “how come you are so reflexively anti-Democrat?”, etc., even though I had made no disparaging remark ( that time).
    Ah, liberals and their echo chambers. Not like here, of course.

    1. I mentioned this before. But my MIL called me a racist for expressing disgust for a politician. She asked if I liked anybody to which I made a smart-alec confused Scooby-Doo grimace on purpose while at the same time her daughter – my wife – replied, ‘Really, ma? Racist?’

      Not once did she ask me ‘why’ I took issue with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Le Beau Trudeau – the subject of my bourbon driven ire.

    2. A lotta guys might say it seems like you’re already “sick of this shit”.

      1. Yeah, she told me that, if I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Shrillary, then a priest vote for Johnson was OK. But a vote for Trump, who might actually keep the traitorous felon from the White House was unacceptable.
        I was all like “lol, wot? Bitch, you gonna tell me who I can and can’t vote for? Whatever.”

        1. No no no… as a liberal she believes in freedom and the democratic process (which now has been shown to actually be the Democratic process)…

          Just as long as you confine yourself to these regulations, requirements, right-thoughts, beliefs, actions, feelings, etc. Do that and you can vote for whoever your government approved heart felt desires lead you to vote for.

        2. Question: The election is just around the corner. who are you going to vote for?

          Answer: I’m going to vote the same way you do; by secret ballot.

        3. This probably explains why I am incompatible with relationships, but if a GF told me voting for someone was unacceptable, I would go to the polling station with her, vote for that candidate, take a phone pic of the ballot and show it to her after, just for shits and giggles.

          Really, it’d be nice of more people (especially women) could be, if not indifferent, a little less emotional about politics. But, this is what happens when a whole generation grows up watching the Daily Show.

    3. DenverJ

      Use a rubber every time, period, full stop.

      The last thing you want is to impregnate this crazy and have her in your life for the next 18 years.

      No pussy is that good,

  8. one of the better two-liners in his presidency

    Does it count if it’s obviously not delivered in good faith?

    1. He’s a Democrat so…yes.

  9. Millennial Actress Chloe Moretz is promising her fellow millennials that Hillary will deliver the free shit, but only if you register and vote for her.

    1. It’s a good thing I don’t give a shit about celebrities politics or I’d never be able to enjoy the entertainment some of them provide.

  10. “Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way,” he said.

    That’s some major lack of self-awareness there. I can’t believe he really said that with a straight face.

    How’s that slowing of the oceans’ rise going. Barry? And how about all that stuff you were going to do with your pen and phone, because you won and Republicans were supposed to just shut up and let you drive?

  11. Was this two-liner better than the two lines he did in college while also smoking pot?

  12. Apparently Obama has never heard of Obamacare.

  13. News – Obama Admits He’s a Liar, Apologizes for Lying About ObamaCare!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV8hYZNXul8

  14. Appearing on “Meet the Press” with Tom Brokaw yesterday, a co-chair of Barack Obama’s transition team, Valerie Jarrett, explained Obama “is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one.”

    It seems that ruling is what he wanted all along.

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