Even with all of the infighting and philosophical differences currently going on inside the Republican party, it’s pretty safe to say that the one thing that unites right-leaning thinkers is this country is a strong opposition President Obama’s mind-numbing expansion of the size and scope of the federal government. We understand how it’s hurting this country, and we recognize that the president’s policies, decisions, and neglect are steadily taking us down a European road of ruin.
There are some who believe that the decline of our nation is the product of purposeful management. In fact, I’ve heard a number of people insist that it is President Obama’s disdain for the history and traditions of this country that has compelled him to intently neuter the power of the United States. They believe he wants to make us less significant on the world stage, and that he recognizes that the best way to manage our slow, steady decay is to bury us under insurmountable debt and dependency. It’s his way of teaching this country a lesson.
I don’t buy that. I do believe that President Obama would prefer that the United States be less influential in world matters. There’s plenty of evidence to conclude that he truly does favor the idea of America “leading from behind.” However, I don’t think that our nation’s insolvency is the planned endgame of his social justice crusade.
No, I think the true explanation isn’t quite as sinister or conspiratorial, though the end result isn’t any less harmful. I’m of the opinion that Barack Obama simply approaches his role as our president with what I’ll call bumper-sticker leadership.
What is bumper-sticker leadership? It’s when someone addresses serious, complicated issues with mere expressionism.
Let me explain…
While driving along a road, or maybe as you’re walking through a parking lot, have you ever spotted a bumper-sticker that really spoke to you – one that summed up exactly what you believe on a particular topic in a very simple but profound way? I know I have.
In fact, I noticed one just the other day that I thought was pretty brilliant. It read, “Ask not what your country can take from other people and give to you.” It was a sharp take-off of the classic JFK line with a modern-day, pro-individualist spin. Though the driver was a complete stranger to me, he managed to earn some legitimacy in my eyes because of his implied, philosophical view of the role government in our society.
But really, beyond the sticker, I didn’t know a thing about the driver. I didn’t know if he was a good-hearted, honest person. I didn’t know if he was a responsible, law-biding individual. I didn’t know if he was trustworthy and competent. And I didn’t know anything about what he had achieved throughout his life. Those are the kinds of things that define an individual… not some clever idiom.
The same distinction can apply to leadership.
When I look at Barack Obama’s performance as our president over the past five years, I don’t see a man who has defined himself as a leader. I see a man who has essentially relied on attractive slogans and broad theory to earn legitimacy. And in the eyes of the mainstream media and a good portion of the American public, that’s all it’s taken. In some cases, that contentment can be explained by shared ideology. In other cases, it can be attributed to pure laziness.
Really, President Obama is like one of those cars you see from time to time that has a plethora of bumper-stickers plastered all over its body. With so many messages and witticisms on display, there’s always a good chance that some of them are going to draw favor with onlookers. But if you bother to peel away at those stickers, like the media and a lot of unengaged Americans have been reluctant to do with our president, you’re most likely going to find a clunker of a car underneath.
The Obama-method for governing appears to be the practice of throwing out some broad proclamation about addressing a problem, with the expectation being that the proclamation alone will somehow magically result in that problem being taken care of. And not only will it be taken care of… It will also be done so in an effective, efficient way.
That’s not leadership. That’s narcissism and gross irresponsibility.
We’ve seen major problems arise from this. We have an incoherent foreign policy that includes our government routinely seeming to first learn of significant unrest overseas at the same time the rest of us do. Four and a half years after the Great Recession ended, we still have an economy and employment situation that can’t find solid footing. We’re drowning in debt, we’re no longer respected by other countries because we lack credibility, we’re not dealing with soaring energy prices, and it’s all because bumper-sticker leadership does not solve problems.
The latest example of this is all of the disastrous implementation problems we’re continuing to see with Obamacare. The creation of the Affordable Care Act was predicated on the simple notion that everyone deserves access to affordable healthcare. I don’t doubt that Obama’s intent in signing the bill into law was to bring that idea to fruition. The problem is that the extent of President Obama’s leadership on this very serious issue of healthcare reform never went beyond that of knee-jerk instinct and self-righteousness.
We often refer to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare” because President Obama was the one who spearheaded healthcare reform as a key component of his first-term agenda. But the truth is that all he really did was throw out a motto. The concoction of the actual bill was delegated entirely to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other dimwits in the Democratic majorities in congress.
The president himself was too busy being a progressive visionary and demonizing his opposition to be bothered with the details and ramifications of what actually went into the bill. And I don’t think he could have cared less about those things anyway. Obama clearly believes there isn’t any cost that outweighs a perceived benefit. There isn’t any reality that negates a well-intentioned notion. All he cared about was his name going into the history books as the signer of a big government solution to healthcare.
That’s all that mattered.
Even if you overlook the numerous shady deals and joyrides on Air-Force One that took place in order to get enough votes to pass the bill, the rhetoric that was used in selling it the public was very telling. President Obama himself told a number of falsities, like the bill being deficit neutral, people’s premiums not rising, and that everyone would get to stick with their current insurance providers. And yet, I’m not even convinced that he was actually lying. Willful ignorance fuels bumper-sticker leadership. I honestly believe that the president thought that merely saying these things would actually make them happen when the law was implemented.
Of course, that mindset isn’t grounded in reality. So now, our country is stuck with a nonsensical, 2,000-page law that is unaffordable to Americans, unsustainable to our economy, unmanageable by our government, and staggeringly detrimental to the quality of our healthcare. And everyone, including those in the administration, knows that it’s an absolute train wreck.
The only reason the law hasn’t been repealed for the sake of the country, is because of the enormous embarrassment that it would cause to the Obama administration and those in congress who invested their political capital in it . And because of that monstrously costly need to save face, we’re already seeing the self-implosion of the law being incomprehensibly blamed by the left on those dirty, Republican obstructionists.
George Will said it well on ABC’s This Week last Sunday: “What Obamacare requires for it to work – mass irrationality.”
When a law’s implementation relies on mass irrationality, what exactly is the honest justification for keeping it around? It’s an absolute mess, and it’s going to cause a lot of pain.
Unfortunately for the American public, no number of “Yes We Did!” bumper-stickers is going to change that.
Copyright © 2013 BernardGoldberg.com