The Great Unifier

To win wars, clean up oil spills, or define domestic policies, don’t we need to work together? Isn’t the president’s most important duty – the one that lies under all those others – to unify? I suspect that was the founders’ thoughts, since the presidency is the one post for which the entire country votes.

Sure, I saw enough of BDS to suspect Bush less culpable than his audience; I’m trying to be objective. And the leftist pundits are unhappy. Still, crazy as they are, they aren’t the thugs at polling booth doors – nor responsible for the large numbers at Tea Party rallies.

Surfing responses, I was struck by Luntz’s focus group: the more Obama talked the more reactions diverged; his audience became intensely argumentative. Some were attracted to populist rhetoric and others turned off by it.

My impression of past polls is despite a good-sized discrepancy on many issues, the lines were roughly parallel. The more knowledgeable might remark whether this divergence is common. Perhaps it isn’t a big deal. I hope not. We don’t need an increasingly polarized country. But though I would like us all to at least minimally get along and be more productive, that doesn’t mean I’m buying much if any of the goods Obama was selling last night.

8 thoughts on “The Great Unifier”

  1. The central tenet of leftism is that one group of citizens has the right and obligation to direct the violent power of the state against other groups of citizens. Leftism is all about attacking your neighbors. External threats, if they are acknowledged as existing at all, have a minimum priority.

    Therefore, Obama doesn’t have any idea what to do about problems other than to attack his fellow Americans and sow dissension and suspicion between them. That is his solution to everything. It is very telling that he directed the phrase, “Kick Ass” against business people and not overt military enemies. He is far, far more hostile to his fellow Americans than he is to any foreign threat.

    Obama cannot unite the American people because doing so would destroy his entire political raison d’etre.

  2. The trope of “bring us together” and national unity, is the essence of fascism. The fasces for which the movement was named was a bundle of rods with an ax in the middle, and was a symbol of of Rome. the fascist idea was that the unified people were strong like the sticks bound together in the fasces.

    The genius of the Founding Fathers and the United States is that the union is only at the highest level. The Federal government is designed as a government of limited powers so that the people and the states could each pursue happiness as they understand it.

  3. P.S. Fasces were shown on the reverse of the dime coin minted by the US from 1916 through 1946. Being silver, they have all disappeared from circulation. The coin design predated Mussolini’s movement, but was not changed until FDR’s death.

  4. Robert, I do not see unification as an absolute good, to be pursued no matter the cost. And that some of us would like and some of us not like any president is a given – and a good. But that someone who speaks for us in terms of foreign policy or defines domestic policy enrages both sides – one against him and the other against his “enemies” – is surely not a good thing. It leads to an unreasoned, emotional debate more likely to encourage fascism.

    A unified desire to find the best answer would, for many of us, mean a much more limited government; we are not likely to be unified on the best answer – we could be unified on desiring rational discourse and practical solutions. If he had demonstrated humility before the size of the problem (or in fact before about anything), he would have been less divisive, more attractive. If that humility led him to solutions less those of government and destruction of populist enemies, the effect would be less – not more – fascist.

  5. I think there are a couple of reasons for Obama’s attack-dog approach to virtually everything. One of these is, as Shannon points out, the inherent nature of leftism. But another factor, which is particularly important in the case of this particular individual, is this:

    When an individual is promoted to a job for which he lacks the skills, he often reverts to whatever activities made him successful in *previous* jobs. Thus, the new sales manager who spends all his time doing personal selling rather than taking on his new responsibilities of coaching, system-building, and measuring. Or the new engineering manager who spends his days doing product design while his organization dissolves into chaos. Or the financial executive promoted to CEO who fails to learn the difference between *measuring* results and *causing* them. In Obama’s case, what he’s mainly been successful at is *campaigning*. So he campaigns. His approach to this has always been a combination of (a)vague idealism and (b)casting blame and demonizing particular groups. (a)doesn’t play quite as well in the current climate, so the gain is being turned up on approach (b).

    A leading fictional example of reversion to prior behavior is of course offered by Lt Cdr Philip Queeg, of the destroyer-minesweeper “Caine.”

  6. I didn’t watch the speech. I had no desire to. Which is interesting – well, to me anyway – because I almost always watch things like that. He makes me depressed.

    Does anyone find it weird to have a President in the Oval Office talking like that about BP? Not that BP doesn’t deserve criticism, but that the whole tenor of this presidency is so odd. It’s all throwing money at problems and trying to co-opt the private sector via bullying or, again, throwing money at it. Crony capitalism meets flailing.


    – Madhu

  7. The genius of a decentralized governmental structure is that it allows for and compensates for disunity at all levels.

    In most cultures throughout history, being different was a decidedly dangerous business, whether the difference was tribal, religious, or any number of other personal/cultural qualities. Many times in this country, powerful segments of the population have tried to enforce some type of uniformity, only to have various differing opinions or values break up the closed ranks.

    For all our mistakes and false steps, and there have certainly been some gruesome and terrible errors, the national consciousness has gradually evolved to be more open to differences of all kinds, whether personal, religious, or cultural.

    The seemingly monolithic strength of the totalitarian state is, in fact, only disguising the brittleness and fundamental weaknesses of that system, as recent history has so wonderfully shown. It is the mullahs’ Iran, and Chavez’s Venezuela that are tottering, and the lunacy of the North Korean dictatorship that is teetering on the brink of collapse, not the many democratic states who are also facing difficuties and problems.

    The deep strength of our seemingly disunited and disorganized society is that very disunity and disorganization. It is resiliency and inventiveness that matters, not some lock-step uniformity of thought and action.

    Out of many—one. And that one all the stronger for the many.

  8. Emotional, personal responses by a president to problems personalized by him (and his followers) is not the sign of an Army of Davids. It indicates he is playing to the crowd of true believers – and they are willing to attack.

    I agree that we should be open; I agree that out of multiplicity is likely to come a more vibrant economy and richer culture. But a president whose speeches are designed to excite a relatively small base and who does not value the opinion of a large percentage of his listeners is not a leader; nor does he understand the value of multiplicity. Sure, he need not convince everyone nor would it be good if he did; he should, however, acknowledge with respect other perspectives.

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