President Obama is suddenly warning fellow Democrats not to get too radical too fast, slow down the socialist rhetoric and keep things in check – or lose 2020. He seems to be telling them to stop plowing under their 2020 chances. On one hand, he is right. On the other, let’s hope no one is listening.
The warning is a curious turn, since Obama set in motion – with Obamacare, federalization of state laws, mass regulation and centralization – much of what inspires Democratic leaders to “go socialist.” One can only wonder if Obama thinks they are “letting the cat out of the bag,” revealing too much too soon.
On one point, Obama is right: Radical ideas take on a life of their own, often consuming their promotors. In the former Soviet Union, Menshevik leader Leon Trotsky helped Bolsheviks seize power, and was then killed by a competing Soviet Socialist, Joseph Stalin. Stalin took political opposition and socialist justifications for mass killing to a new level.
Likewise, the French Revolution started with pitches of reform and a “Declaration of Rights of Man.” It ended in mass violence. Idealism in 1789 devolved into score settling, property destruction, attacks on the Church and mass executions – including Louis XVI – by 1793.
Cascading disorder, fueled by reforming agitators, blazed into national destruction and condemnation of the Church, producing violent leaders like Robespierre and the Jacobins, then the “Reign of Terror” promoted by an ill-conceived “Committee on Public Safety.” Appeals to radicalism, by definition, are destabilizing.
But there is more to Obama’s comment. None of the star-crossed Democrats have yet embraced a new Communist International or opted for ending the Church, although some are close. That said, they are pushing “socialism” – hard. What Obama sees is that this appeal goes down hard; Democrats, Independents and Republicans are choking on that socialist message.
In short, “socialism” – however defined – does not fit any America. It is contrary to our American model, founding documents, Constitution and Bill of Rights, democratic principles, practice and individual liberty. Obama, a pragmatist, knows this. He may want socialism but knows most Americans do not – thus the big “Shush!”
Media outlets universally interpreted Obama’s warning – i.e. that voters do not want to “tear down the system” – as just “a veiled shot at Warren and Sanders.” Maybe. Or maybe it was meant for the entire Democratic field and House Democrats. If so, Republicans should take notice.
Obama’s message may be nuanced, aimed at both sets of Democrats. It may be this: Impeachment also goes down hard and stains the overzealous party – with overzealousness. If trust is lost, it is difficult to recover. Time will be short.
A presidential field pushing socialism against the backdrop of a flawed, partisan impeachment – is in trouble. Americans are disinterested in politics but impeach their president on flimsy evidence to hoist the Socialist flag, and you have lost them.
In short, what Obama sees – and most Washington Democrats do not – is that socialism, however cleverly defined, is not America. Free stuff paid for by nobody only goes so far – and less far if Americans think Democrats have abused our constitutional process for politics. It goes nowhere when the economy is thriving, measured by record stock indexes, gross domestic product, exports, income and wage growth, labor participation and productivity, employment and consumer confidence.
In short, even Obama sees Democratic prospects for 2020 falling into shadow. Promoting socialism will not help them. So, what should we expect? If Democrats ignore Obama, they will just keep promoting socialism. If they hear him, they will change rhetoric – not what they believe, but what they say. His message may cause Democrats to better mask their intentions.
In the US House, little is likely to change. The roar of impeachment grows louder weekly; the waterfall is just ahead. Likelihood is articles of impeachment get voted by Democrats on party lines.
Obama is right to be uneasy. By many measures, Americans are disgusted with how Democrats are acting. At present, House Democrats are not governing. They are not conferencing appropriations bills or passing treaties. They are obstructing Senate and White House initiatives. They spout socialism, while denying Republicans due process rights, decency, and dignity. They are drifting from historic moorings. What they have become neither Harry Truman nor John Kennedy would recognize.
One cannot help but think of the poet Robert Burns. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go askew.” The Democrats are on a beeline for partisan impeachment and socialist paradise. But the walls are closing in. In Burns’ poem “To a Mouse,” the poet laments destroying a mouse’s house with his plow. Democrats are methodically plowing their own house under –along with chances of securing the White House. Hard to give Obama credit, but on this one he may be right. Unless something changes, expect Democrats to keep plowing.”