The presidential election of 2008 produced an event I thought I would never see in my lifetime: The word “socialism” used in serious political discussion of public policy.
It is impossible to minimize or denigrate the significance of the election of the first African-American president of the United States. Over the past 22 months we have grown accustomed to seeing Barack Obama at a speaker’s podium, viewing him through our political biases. But last night, when the president-elect strode on stage with his family — America’s new “First Family” — for the moment, we slipped the bonds of bias. We were witness to a pivotal moment in the history civil rights in America, one-in-the-same with a moment of personal reflection.
We saw a Michelle Obama, a woman of strength throughout the campaign, smile almost nervously, like the first black mother meeting the stares at a suburban PTA meeting. Her young daughters, overwhelmed by the crowd and not fully aware of the significance of the moment, eerily reminded us of the innocent and bewildered black children escorted by armed troops through tossed taunts and vulgar insults into previously segregated schools. How, we must wonder, could this country ever have persecuted ones such as these?
And then there was Barack Obama — not the politician Barack Obama, but the father Barack Obama, bending to whisper to and hug his daughters and lightly kiss the tops of their heads. He frequently glanced at and shared private smiles with his wife, at times oblivious to the crowd surrounding them. Like the masses of black families who, during the decades of the Great Migration, moved across state lines in search of greater opportunity, our new First Family stood poised at the edge of an uncertain but promising future for themselves and a new era for America.
Obama’s personal achievement
In his election night speech, Obama paid tribute to John McCain, noting that he endured for his country what “most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.” Likewise, most of us — white and black — cannot imagine what Barack Obama endured on his journey to the presidency, yet we are all better off for the prejudices he has overcome, the stereotypes he has destroyed and the role model he provides for all Americans.
Barack Obama’s personal achievement cannot be denied.
The ramifications of Obama’s historic election will reverberate for decades to come, but intoxication with his personal journey must not rule out a rational examination of the journey Obama plans for America. His governing philosophy, his policies, too, will echo throughout our county’s future.
“I urge all Americans,” said John McCain in his concession speech, “I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him (Obama), but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.”
McCain’s objective is admirable, but the reality of the now-concluded presidential campaign cannot be denied. We are country divided, not along liberal and conservative lines, but divided by the age-old battle between the individual and collective society.
Using the tax system to punish businesses that act legally but contrary to government policy, using the tax system not for the economic purpose of efficiently raising revenue but for the moral purpose of “spreading the wealth around,” extending the socialization of the financial industry and socializing the health care industry have no common ground with constitutionally limited government.
The “Road to Serfdom,” a path on which the Bush administration surreptitiously trod, could the autobahn of the Obama administration.
Political loyalty is not measured by fawning over he who holds power; political loyalty is measured by adhering to principle in the presence of power. It is reminding the president of his oath and primary obligation to “preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States.”
Even a little socialism compromises the entire principle of constitutionally limited government.
Keeping the constitutional principles of individual sovereignty, rule of law and private property alive is now the duty of the loyal opposition. That is the fallen banner that must be retrieved from electoral defeat. Preserving limited government is cause around which Republicans must rally.
Challenging the president-elect need not, should not and does not denigrate the achievement of the man, Barack Obama. It need not, should not and does not diminish our shared pride in our new First Family. We best honor the man by honoring the principles of the country that he now serves. In good faith, “Yes, we can!”