As I watched President Barack Obama on the Tonight Show this past week I concluded that Obama represents nearly everything a post 1960sAmerica hoped for as a nation. Too often this brings to mind Obama’s racial makeup, which overlooks how nicely our president fills most if not all of the important blocks contemporaryAmerica demands of its politicians, and perhaps of itself. Indeed, Obama stylistically projects a vision of anAmerica everyone, at least in public, wants this country to be.
In a society frequently more focused on appearance than substance, Obama never disappoints. He is always calm, articulate, even soothing when he talks. He has a pleasing smile and seems to be well prepared for any exchange, however tongue and cheek. He masterfully controls his public space, never offensive, always on key. During the show I noticed that Jay Leno, though certainly not known for his tough questioning, never seemed to be interviewing the president, merely conversing with him.
If you were not one of the thousands occupying Wall Street, one of many business owners uncertain about the economy, or one of the millions of people currently out of work or unemployed, Obama’s performance made you feel good about your country. You might believe that this man, who seems so in control, sincere, and forward looking, is moving us in the right direction. After-all, who would want to believe that someone who embodies all that post 1960s politically correct America has to offer, is leading us on the road to disaster? Answer, not many.
It is time to acknowledge that Obama’sAmerica is crumbling, not just his presidency. College kids who parade around their campuses wearing T shirts that say diversity are immune to the reality that balkanized cities colorAmerica’s landscape, or acknowledge that ethnic wealth inequalities are at thirty year highs despite massive government wealth transfer and affirmative action programs. Those who praise Obama’s financial rescue or hisDetroit bailouts ignore the disserted communities that pervadeDetroit’s city blocks or claim to support Occupy Wall Street without a hint of irony. Meanwhile, Obama travels across the country rallying support for a second enormous stimulus package asWashington teeters on the brink of financial catastrophe.
It may be confusing to people who voted by the millions for “hope and change,” and a post-racialAmerica, and understandably feel let down. Yet, few of them seemed to question exactly what Obama stood for or how he intended to produce the results he promised. For them it was form that mattered, not substance, bringing us to another value celebrated by political correctness. Always be positive and preferably idealistic, even if there is absolutely no justification for it. I don’t think Obama’s optimistic appeal has fully worn thin yet either, just as the 1960’s vision ofAmerica has not yet hollowed out.
For this reason among others, pundits who dismiss Obama’s chances of winning re-election are misguided. Sure his approval ratings are down but people still personally really like the president, a factor that has played a major if not decisive role in virtually every modern presidential election since Nixon. Obama critics simply don’t understand that whoever runs against him is not merely running against a man, but a powerful vision of this country 60 years in the making. Obama’s iconic rise to the presidency was not just a vote against Bush but a vote supportingAmerica’s love affair with its own idealism.
Perhaps that explains why the other party seems so wanting when it comes to their presidential candidates. Notice I don’t use the term Republican because the GOP is on its way out. True Conservatives are finally reclaiming their party, but certainly haven’t retaken it yet. In spite of Tea Party opposition to the establishment, the Grand Old Party maintains control over who will get the nomination, and that means Mitt Romney will probably win.
The GOP likes him and the Tea Party hates him, neatly illuminating the fight between two conflicting views ofAmerica battling it out for control of the party. The GOP likes him because at the moment he is the closest thing the Republicans have to Obama, someone who is un-offensive, handsome, fairly articulate, moderate, and completely vacuous. Romney is all things to all people, just like his friend Obama on the other side of the aisle.
Unfortunately, when it comes to substance and change Romney doesn’t have it either. Like Obama he will say what he has to in order to be elected, but when it comes down to it Romney will dither and equivocate just as the system taught him to do. Intuitively, the Tea Party knows this, which is why they strongly support candidates like Herman Cain and Ron Paul. For all their flaws, Tea Partiers know that Cain and Paul are genuine, they stand for something. They are not part of the politically correct establishment responsible for creatingAmerica’s problems.
So what does all this mean? It means that Americans are in for much harder times until we choose reality over fantasy, substance over style, and honestly face up to our problems. Political leaders who really change things and improve society are not beloved by all because they paint a happy picture. Real leaders stand for something concrete, and oppose specific ideas or policies that are wrong. TheLincoln’s of our day are out there, but we must be receptive to them instead of fawning over a hollow vision of our country.
Cameron Macgregor is a USNA grad and a former Naval Officer. He is writing his first book, The New American Nationalism.