*The presidency of Barack Obama and the implementation of liberal policies have inspired backlash in the form of people questioning whether individual freedoms are being eradicated.
President Obama is depicted as a totalitarian leader who is determined to take away liberty from the citizenry as he reshapes the country as a communist entity.
What those protesting rarely acknowledge, and perhaps do not realize, is that Obama’s philosophy of governing is not radical and should not be feared. His philosophy is simply one of many ways to try to enable people to achieve their goals.
Societies can exist in two basic states: a state of anarchy in which there are no rules anyone is forced to obey, or a state of government in which there are rules.
Certainly there are several different forms of government that a society can adopt, and many different methods of choosing those in leadership within a government, but it cannot be disputed that if there is a government then there are rules. Under all forms of government individuals relinquish a bit of their individual freedom for collective security and in doing so pledge to adhere to the rules of society.
The existence of rules in any society, and the fact that individual freedoms have been sacrificed creates the necessity for rule enforcers; rules must be enforced to make the sacrifice of individual freedoms worthwhile. Taxes are established by government to compensate those people who create, enforce, and interpret the rules.
In the United States the rules of our society have evolved over time. At the inception of our country people traded individual freedom and paid taxes for a government that would regulate interstate and international trade, among other things. In 1800 that meant government passed laws to ensure African and African-American slaves remained in a state of bondage so that the country’s agribusiness could flourish. In 1900 that meant examining price fixing and combinations of corporations to ensure that these companies were not cheating the public. The catch was that the growth in the American economy meant the growth in the taxes necessary. In 2000 the regulation of interstate and international trade encompasses the fields of agriculture, technology, and finance. And again there are requisite increases in taxes.
In all of these time periods the government is taking the money of its citizenry and providing services. Yet we do not label those presidents as being radical or un-American. President Obama is following in a long line of his predecessors in that he is doing what he can to implement programs he feels will be beneficial to the American public. In this way he is practicing socialism the same way Theodore Roosevelt practiced socialism, the only difference is the amount of help Obama feels he can/should do.
The great thing about the United States is the ability of the public to debate political issues and ultimately to re-elect their representatives or replace them. Obama’s ideas and philosophy are not so far from the norm among other Western societies. While his outlook may not match other outlooks, Obama hardly deserves to be vilified. The upcoming midterm elections this year and the 2012 Presidential elections will determine if Obama was correct in implementing these programs, not if he is a Nazi.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War and he maintains a blog called This Seems Familiar. You can reach him at [email protected]