Obama

We’re More than Just Votes

The smooth-talking, supposed consensus-building, “thrill up your leg” inducing President Obama sure knows how to ruffle a few feathers, doesn’t he? As we approach what will likely be an historical election, political passions have, like Joe Biden’s hairline, receded slightly, at least comparatively speaking to the last few months. Americans have gotten a chance to gasp for breath as the turmoil of the gay marriage controversy falls from its fervent pinnacle. Whether it’s health care, religious freedom, or marriage, Obama’s policy decisions, speeches, and opinions are often sources of great controversy. Sure, he’s the president and he’s going to create controversy wherever he goes, but like many of his policies, his controversies go to the extreme. He has frequently made controversial decisions and statements without regard to their impact upon public opinion. The president seems to forget that his authority is not infinite nor is it based upon his charm and personality. Political authority is contingent upon the consent of the people which hinges upon our approval/disapproval of his job performance. We voted for you, Mr. President, and we can vote you right out again.

President Obama has certainly made a career out of riling Americans’ passions. He was still basking in the post-election glow when his wave of approval was brought to a crashing halt as Obamacare was signed on March 23rd, 2010. The nationwide opposition of the universal healthcare law resulted in widespread anger. As a result, the Republicans took back the House in November of 2010. More recently, President Obama incensed many Americans with his birth control mandate which would force religiously affiliated employers such as hospitals to provide birth control. Many religious groups, especially Catholics, cried foul, citing their conscientious objection to contraception. Like Obamacare before it, the birth control mandate is now having its day in court. Meanwhile, Obama faces stark criticism in the court of public opinion.

Finally, the news media exploded recently when the President came out in support of gay marriage. While Obama was praised by social liberals, he also defied a large segment of the nation. Thirty-eight states ban same-sex marriage, including North Carolina, which had passed a constitutional amendment banning the practice the day before the president’s announcement. Just to be safe however, President Obama waited until Gallup reported that national support of gay marriage finally breached the 50% mark. Bold move? I think not.

Ironically, as Obama incenses the anger of millions of Americans, he also does everything to pander to our votes. He is now the “First Jewish President,” and the “First Gay President.” And of course he’s the Second Black President after Bill Clinton. Don’t forget the fact that the President actually mimicked a Puerto Rican accent when he was in the Central American nation. That’s the threshold of political pandering.

President Obama’s persona is becoming nothing more than an amalgam of every single interest group, even conservatives. Remember when he compared himself to Reagan? Yet, in an attempt to cover all the bases, he’s losing what little quality he has for quantity. The job description for elected officials does not include spreading yourself thin to appeal to everyone, although that’s unfortunately all too common. It’s about creating a specific platform and sticking to it. Politicians aren’t supposed to appeal to every segment of the population. While it may now be a pipe dream, they’re supposed to have a solid base while still remaining acceptable. In other words, politicians shouldn’t be too polarizing if they want to be elected. Perhaps President Obama needs to learn that lesson.

Furthermore, his perpetual flip flopping is indicative of his pandering tactics. Although the President was widely praised for his gay marriage stance, he has teetered on the issue historically, swinging from support to outright opposition of the practice. He only came out in support of it when he expected 53% of Americans to be behind him. Talk about cowardice. The President also flip-flopped on his position regarding Super PACs. At one time, he labeled them a “threat to our democracy” but now he has seemingly embraced his Super PAC supporters. Money talks.

This constant back and forth between pandering to and ostracizing Americans is indicative of President Obama’s world view (and unfortunately, the worldview of many politicians). He sees us as voters, not individuals. We’re just numbers in a statistic and only worth what we can contribute to his campaign. This is eerily similar to the words of none other than Karl Marx:

“In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.”

In the eyes of a professional politician like President Obama, we are capital, not human beings. He panders to us because we are voters, not because we are Americans. He’s more interested in the quantitative vote count than the quality of the American people. We are a nation of quality, not quantity. Our strength depends upon the character of our citizens, not the size of the nation’s voting bloc. Rejecting this fact denies the concept of individual worth. The United States is a nation of strong individuals who together make up a society with a strong character. We are more than numbers and we are more than a simple collective. We’re not just votes, we’re unique individuals with diverse assets to contribute.

Amy Lutz | Saint Louis University | @AmyLutz4

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