Archive | Politics RSS feed for this section

Activism

Obama-Obamacare-SignatureFrom the day I first became an activist – when my best friend told me that his family’s home was being seized by our hometown government when we were in the third grade (as I recently wrote about here) to this black day in our nation’s history, March 23, which, contrary to decades of my best activist efforts, marks three years of health care dictatorship known as ObamaCare (as I wrote about in an op-ed in this week’s Washington Times), I have learned the essentials of activism.

Key lessons include matching message to media, objectively communicating on principle, and not without consideration of factors which may at first seem irrelevant, an important aspect that many well-meaning activists, especially Objectivists, fail to grasp and master. For example, in the case of the third grade property rights action – we took on city hall with our door-to-door canvassing throughout the town – seeing two eight-year-olds walking across town to save a child’s home from government-sponsored seizure and demolition for the sake of a park concretized for residents that having a place for children to play seemed beside the point if it means depriving the child of a home to live in. Our campaign for justice was the perfect counterpoint in reality to the local government’s claims. They backed down. We won. My friend grew up in that home.

We bought time and we set an example of activism; he was able to keep his home. Seeing the bastards buckle was, for me, a tonic to the counterculture which I knew I hated. I could not have conceptualized it this way at the time, but I sensed that the New Left, which later spawned the ultimate nihilist Obama and was spreading all around me as a child, was sinister – I was being subjected to it every day in government schools amid ‘progressive’ education which was pure poison – and even as a boy I knew the left was contaminating the government. Whatever had almost happened to my best friend was caused by some dark intellectual force I had yet to identify but knew was lurking and slithering around me in various forms such as hippies, drug users and dealers and all sorts of toxic hosts that people remarkably still refuse to acknowledge: teachers, priests, political operatives and especially college professors. There were good ones, too, which must be said. But the bad ones put their professions to shame and were feeding off New Left dogma – if it feels good, do it; whatever works; love the one you’re with; just believe; who are we to know?; what’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for me – and bloodsucking the life out of youths. I learned to be on guard. In this sense, I learned that the New Left radicals have a point; the personal is the political and the reverse is also true and both to the extent that politics apply to one’s life.

I had also learned as a child to commit to physical action, whether for property rights, charity (ringing bells for the Salvation Army and soliciting on street corners to raise money to help the blind), safety (as a crossing guard and kids’ safety school instructor) and politics, standing at blustery Chicago locations to promote individual rights. Chicago Police detained me without cause when, tipped off by a sympathetic union source, I joined a peaceful protest of a Carter/Mondale union rally. That’s where I learned the value of the proper maneuver, getting to know reporters on site and communicating the message to the right recipient. That day, we failed, outfoxed by unions and corrupt cops, ignored by the broadcast media that turned the other cheek to youths being wrongly evicted from an exercise in free speech. We had been unprepared for hostile reaction.

Over years in campaigns and, later, on Capitol Hill with John Porter, on the advance team for Ronald Reagan, whom I met and talked with, and while running editorial operations for free market health care and patient advocacy, while reading Ayn Rand’s writings and reporting on news, sports and commentary, I developed the ability to quickly assimilate facts and action with a principled purpose, often in a crisis with a distinct and legitimate requisite for some degree of theatrical appeal. In Chicago, I had faced harsh weather and physical threats. I was also threatened with physical force on the streets in Philadelphia, where I coached and advised a student protest against state-sponsored voluntary servitude. There were lessons in Miami, too, when I met Elian Gonzalez days before he was seized at gunpoint by the U.S. government only to be returned to a Communist dictatorship.

At times, the activists walked away thinking we had won when, in fact, we’d lost. In other instances, the team figured we may have wasted time when, in fact, we had advanced the cause for freedom in some small but measurable way; the campaign to liberate Elian, which was opposed by some top Objectivists, comes to mind. The team had mobilized and activated thousands in unity in an unprecedented national effort which provided crucial experience to future leaders and serious artists, entrepreneurs and intellectuals. Most of the time the results were as mixed as the culture, a fact of reality which yields the best lesson of all: that, with regard to activism, reality is beyond one’s immediate control and you have to let go of what you can’t control to focus on what you can control, which may be an extremely difficult balance to achieve in an activist moment. Yes, one must act on principle to be a rational activist, as I learned in my youth. But one must act, which I have observed in 40 years of experience most Objectivists do not. When they do, it is often with self-aggrandizement, sanctimony or sneering that puts people off and precludes an intended audience from being receptive to persuasion from an objective communication about what’s in philosophy for them.

I’ve made scads of mistakes and the record proves it. We did not stop welfare statism or eradicate the notion of being morally obliged to “give back” to God, religion or others. We are losing that intellectual battle and fast and on an epic scale. We lost free choice in medicine to health care dictatorship and a child refugee to Communism. But, for the few who have activated their minds in principled action, and you know who you are, activism is not hustling in a self-centered way as most right-wing think tanks and professional political activists do. Activism offers a trade. When properly executed, results are the reward: Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), a moral challenge in action to those who seek to rule by force in the heart of where they gather – Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, DC – and a house a child calls home.

There are other benefits of rational activism: a strong, seasoned, unified network of rare, exceptional intellectuals, neither ivory tower types nor hucksters, who activate like real-life superheroes in a given crisis in a nation heading toward catastrophe, buying more time to live, which buys more time to be happy here on earth. For myself, I know firsthand that activism should not be a sacrifice, and that the greatest reward is having acted in my self-interest. From the life of the late John David Lewis, whose Tea Party speeches for free market medicine and victory in war with jihadists were as passionate as his lectures on history, to the example of Leonard Peikoff, who learned from Ayn Rand (who was also an activist), I have learned that the more the altruist-collectivist axis enacts a dictatorship, the more urgently the egoist-individualist and his allies must self-activate.

On this horrible date in history, the day the dictate ObamaCare became law, Americans should keep in mind the words of Leonard Peikoff, who said, when faced with the prospect of government-controlled medicine – and he said it to a general audience, not to a cluster of academics, let alone Objectivist academics: “So long as people believe that socialized medicine is a noble plan, there is no way to fight it. You cannot stop a noble plan—not if it really is noble. The only way you can defeat it is to unmask it—to show that it is the very opposite of noble. Then at least you have a fighting chance.” The upshot of this thought is to fight on principle; to know enough to fight to win and live life. In this sense, activism means fighting to live and this is a balance; one must keep in mind both that the point is to live and that living means active fighting, not passive griping, forwarding of e-mails and sharing of posts or making jokes, memes and comments. Activism is not only reading, listening and making donations to others. It means going on the offense, deep into the adversary’s field of operations. It means the opposite of sloughing off the world at large; it means engagement, not disengagement. As Ayn Rand wrote, it is sooner than you think. I think this is still true.

Objectivism is a philosophy for living on earth. Its application requires thought and action. Today, especially on this day, this means being an activist, not for the sake of activism but for the sake of your life. Dr. Peikoff’s forementioned health care activism resulted in an instantaneous standing ovation. I know because I was there and, as I remember it, I was first to stand up. The injustice he was fighting, the Clinton health care plan, was not only defeated; unlike ObamaCare, it never went to the White House for signing. That’s because it never made it to the congressional floor for a vote and that’s because it never became a piece of legislation. This is what activism can do.

Obama’s Re-Election

By most accounts, Obama won re-election (my forecast was way off, though I did say that the U.S. is so contaminated that my projection might be wrong). It turns out that Romney, godfather of ObamaCare whom I denounced early during his campaign as “Obamney”, a term coined by an even lesser opponent, was a poor facsimile of his father’s nemesis, Barry Goldwater, in the historically disastrous 1964 presidential campaign; he ran a decent campaign and then blanked on his best themes in the final weeks, winning the first debate with a relatively robust offense against Obama only to refuse to challenge Obama on his outrageous handling of the Islamic terrorist attack at Benghazi and instead agreeing with Obama on nearly every major issue, especially the morality of the welfare state, which he, like his running mate Paul Ryan, never challenged. Faced with another milquetoast, me-too Republican – and Romney tried to put voters at ease with his rubbery positions – more voters chose the real thing: a New Left destroyer of capitalism, individualism and America.

Those same voters are set up to be destroyed, one by one, and they will have deserved it. Those who do not deserve it will also be destroyed, as more innocents are crushed by Big Government day after day, month after month, year after year, which is why time is more urgent and precious than it was yesterday. We learned that there are more looters and moochers, in Ayn Rand’s terms from Atlas Shrugged, than there are creatives and producers, or at least more of those who vote. And to paraphrase a famous saying there’s a special rung in hell for those who did not vote, or wasted their vote on a third party candidate, or disdain politics altogether. There is another special rung in hell for religious people who seek to mix religion with secular government. Their lunatic candidates were trounced in the election, and the loss contributed to Romney’s loss, with their faith-based views making faith-based Obama seem reasonable. Obama will expedite the nation’s destruction. I don’t pretend to know which form the collapse may take or when but I know that people who want a republic based on individual rights and capitalism haven’t much time. Ayn Rand often cautioned that “it’s sooner than you think”, so Objectivists should think and re-think what we’re doing to communicate Rand’s ideas. That includes the Ayn Rand Institute, other leading free market intellectuals and, of course, my own efforts. We are heavily outnumbered – so were the founding fathers and patriots – and we should take stock of what we’re doing and whether we’re getting good enough results.

There are multiple sources for knowledge, understanding and inspiration, especially my favorite novel, Atlas Shrugged, and also Leonard Peikoff’s The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America (1982), the best history of philosophy book I’ve read, and Dr. Peikoff’s new book, The DIM Hypothesis: Why the Lights in the West Are Going Out.

We have less time with Obama in power and it is best to choose expenditures of time and effort wisely. I have been engaged in the battle for individual rights for over 30 years, since I was a teenaged campaign staffer in the land of Lincoln, and I’ve chronicled our downward spiral, from the forced removal of Elian Gonzalez to the death of the medical profession – ObamaCare – two years ago. I feel as if I have been an eyewitness to a botched surgery and autopsy and now it is time to bury the corpse. Hours after I met Elian in Miami, Florida, at the turn of the century, days before the child was seized at gunpoint and forced to return to slavery in Communist Cuba, someone I admire took note of the public’s rejection of Elian’s plea for life and freedom and told me: “The West is doomed.” At the time, I was shocked. I didn’t believe it was true. A few weeks later, during the government’s pre-dawn raid to snatch Elian, I reconsidered whether it was true. A year later, on September 11, I figured that we are probably doomed after all.

Today, I know we are. Before the election, I watched an episode of Frontline on PBS (yes, I know it’s government-sponsored TV), contrasting Romney and Obama. It was well done though slanted for Obama like everything else in the media including that stuff on Fox News Channel. Romney came across as a clean-cut, anachronistic American missionary turned successful businessman whose parents imbued in him a sense of purpose in delivering America into what the Romneys believe is a sacred prophecy. Obama, too, came off as someone who was raised to think he was some sort of savior for a cause – only, in Obama’s case, the cause is the delivery of America’s total destruction. Obama’s profile featured several comments, including a foreigner’s remark, intended as a compliment, that he “didn’t think of [Obama] as an American friend.” Then, Frontline covered Obama himself expressing a fond recollection for belonging to a collective of drug-induced, college-bred hippies known as the “choom gang.” And, in one of those tossed-off racist lines that we’re not supposed to think is racist because it’s pronounced by a black person – one of Obama’s college classmates – there was this formative comment. Upon learning that Obama’s real first name was Barack, not Barry, the black classmate suggested using Barack instead, asking Obama: “What kind of a name is Barry for a brother?”

Of course, we now know that Obama, who was admittedly and chronically obsessed with his own blood, did change his name to Barack, and we also know that he believes his identity is partly based on race. We know he thinks that government should control our lives, that we’re “all in this together”, which means each individual belongs to the collective and must submit to the dictates of its elected leader. We know, too, that Obama and wife hold creators in contempt – “you didn’t build that!” – as pre-advantaged people who must be brought down by force for the sake of other people, based on class, race and culture.

In the end, there were more people who accept the philosophy of altruism, collectivism and welfare-statism and wanted Obama than there were of the mixed, mangled bunch of us who wanted Romney for any variety of reasons, some of them, such as lighter forms of statism and outright theocracy, bad reasons. More Americans voted to re-elect Barack Obama and, if you think about it, you will realize, as I have, that to cast a vote for Romney required a certain exertion of effort, filtering and thinking things through so that the choice we faced yesterday was not obvious, particularly to those without an explicit philosophy. So, do not hate everyone for re-electing Obama, even if you think they should have known better. Buck up and read, or re-read, Atlas Shrugged, clarify and if necessary improve your own thoughts and arguments and act on what you know so that, in the next election, if we have one, and today part of me doubts we will, there will be a clearer, better choice. It is a fact that we live under a government on the fast track toward becoming a dictatorship. Giving up on integrating philosophy into life, which even more urgently requires persuading others to stop passively supporting violation of your right to life, makes life unbearable and sooner than you think.

My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it. Reality is what it is, so there is no denying that life will be harder now, much harder. The headline that matters at this moment is not that Obama was re-elected; what matters is today’s other headline that “ABC News Loses Power in Times Square Studio”. This is an example of the reality we should face, align with and resolve to fix. Life is already hard, and it is true that Obama’s re-election makes life more difficult and imminently more dangerous (ObamaCare). Things are going to stop working. Power will go down. Cities will go dark. Traffic on government roads will get worse. Waiting in government hospitals will be longer and the treatment will be inferior. Attending government schools will be more harmful to children. Businesses are going to be destroyed. People are going to starve and people are going to die. I will live, enjoy and make the most of my life while life is still possible, knowing that there is a destroyer with some degree of power over my life. My estimate that there are more voters who grasp that Obama is a destroyer than those who do not (or, worse, who know it and want destruction) was wrong. I should have known better: four years ago, I didn’t know Obama was a destroyer. Knowing it now is better than not knowing it and four years from now there may be more of us, perhaps enough to steer what’s left of the West toward freedom.

2012 Presidential Election Forecast

In the past, I’ve made projections based on my own estimates from years of studying American politics and working on political causes and campaigns and I have a decent track record, though I tend to overestimate the wins. That said, because I’ve covered this year’s campaign more than any other presidential election since 2000, here is my forecast: Romney to win 287 electoral votes to Obama’s 251. I expect the entire Northeast and West Coast to go for Obama, most of the South, Mountain and Plains states to go for Romney, and the following breakdown of battleground states: Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida for Romney; Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado for Obama. I’m projecting more cautiously this time, though I am inclined to forecast a bigger win for Romney in which he also takes Michigan and Pennsylvania and the rest of the Midwest, but with histories of electing welfare state politicians such as Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and John Culver, it is hard to peg them as defying Obama and there is no underestimating that the welfare state has led to an entitlement class of people dependent on government programs in all 50 states, so I could be wrong. My best scenario for Obama puts him over the necessary 270 votes with 342 versus Romney’s 196 – that gives Obama all the swing states – and my best scenario for Romney, which I’d like to think is more likely, is 355 to Obama’s 183. I’ll stick to Romney: 287 to Obama: 251. In either case, I will brace for impact because, no matter who wins, the nation faces real, serious economic collapse and military defense. I will be thoroughly disgusted with Americans if Obama wins. If Romney wins, I will be thoroughly realistic with low expectations and prepared for another lousy presidency – one that does not destroy the United States of America quite as quickly and decisively. If Romney wins big, Republicans may take control of both the House and the Senate. But I am projecting a solid yet smaller margin of victory over four more years of Obama. Today is Election Day. Let’s roll.

The Warning Sign

I know firsthand of the rash of attacks on Romney/Ryan signs across America. A friend in Ohio posted on Facebook that her yard sign was seized from her property – she replaced it with another and applied a layer of invisible disincentive to stealing it – and there are numerous reports of sign thefts throughout the nation. My own yard sign was stolen – replaced by a new sign offered by a kind neighbor with an ample supply – and, amid reports that racist American Islamic leader Louis Farrakhan is calling for post-election violence in the nation if Obama loses, a young man in Wisconsin who called out to thieves expropriating his Romney/Ryan sign was savagely beaten.

None of this is shocking in a deeply divided nation that faces a historic choice in this year’s presidential election: buy snatches of time to try and save capitalism and what’s left of what was once – and is no longer – a free republic or sanction Big Government for total government control.

But somehow today’s news, captured in the photograph by Jack Stephens and included here, of a burning Romney/Ryan sign on a Virginia couple’s front lawn provides a definitive image of the deteriorating state of the union under Barack Obama. No single picture in this long, painful presidential campaign better expresses what is happening to the United States of America under Obama: destruction. It is particularly fitting that the expression of free speech – an ideal the Obama administration abhors (as I wrote here) – on private property – another concept the government that gave us ObamaCare hates – is being burned. Property rights and freedom of speech are crucial only to those who love their own life and happiness on earth. Obama preaches and governs the opposite of selfishness – self-sacrifice – as the highest ideal and self-immolation is a common act for its most consistent practitioners. But make no mistake: those who hold self-abnegation as the ideal will not stop at setting themselves on fire. As we have seen, they will set fire to expressions of views with which they disagree and they will eventually get around to burning the people who express those views. We have seen pictures like this in the past. We know how this story ends. On November 6, we either heed the warning and reject more of the same, which leads to sacrifice, destruction and death, or we begin to break from the past and fight to live in the future.

Fading vs. Blanking Out

Tonight’s sparring contest at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, was another low point for the United States. The question is not who won or lost what’s falsely been billed as a debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama; what is usually meant by that question is who is perceived to have won or lost by others. The proper question is what was gained by the nation in the third and final presidential candidate exchange. The answer is not much, if anything. The more we learn about these two, the more we should realize that our nation is seriously off track and we should brace for impact.

Romney, whom I referred to over a year ago as Obamney, reverted to his moderate Mitt form, agreeing with Obama on nearly every foreign policy issue and failing to differentiate his candidacy from Obama’s rotten presidency. Romney played it safe, looked and sounded soft and, while he is measurably better than Obama – chiefly because he is not Obama – failed to take Obama to task for the outrage of this year’s Islamic terrorist 9/11 attack. Obama, looking at once tired, angry and petulant, smirked and swaggered in his seat, staring blankly at Romney, spewing rehearsed lies about everything from Israel – which he has done everything to undermine – to Iran, which he has done everything to appease. At one point even CBS News moderator Bob Schieffer slipped and mistakenly referred to “Obama bin Laden”. It’s not that Romney did not win, though he did not, it’s that he did not differentiate. Americans are ready for someone who will tell the truth about the lousy state of the union and commit to fixing it. Looking presidential and dodging traps and smears is not enough.

There are crucial issues at stake in this election and, one by one, Romney fumbled. Though he scored points when he more or less said that we can’t win the war against jihadists by picking off terrorists one at a time (as I wrote in my post on killing bin Laden, “Death of a Terrorist“), Romney agreed with Obama, who followed the disastrous Bush doctrine, on Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But we know where Me-too Republicanism, personified by Romney’s father, George, leads: Me-first, New Left variations of fascism, first authored by John Kennedy and climaxing under Barack Obama, which is why we urgently need a distinction with a difference. Romney instead whiffed when Obama ludicrously claimed he’s kept Americans safe for four years – tell that to those who loved the soldiers and statesmen we lost to jihadists at Fort Hood and Benghazi – and said with a straight face that he has no regrets about making the Islamicization of north Africa possible. Or when Obama said we stand with Israel, another lie. Worst of all, Romney declined to mention that the Obama administration repeatedly attacked an American who made a movie as the cause of the newest 9/11 assault as against the jihadists who launched the strike and murdered our ambassador and three Americans. Romney chose to be politically correct and ignore Obama’s serious transgressions against the United States, including terrorist investigator Steven Emerson’s disturbing new report about jihadists in the White House.

As we head toward a darker future, facing the prospect of economic crisis, paralysis and collapse and the war against Islamic jihad, America needs a pro-American president who displays courage and resolve in defense of individual rights, from free speech to free markets. Mitt Romney showed us how far we are from electing such a president. Barack Obama reminded us how close we are to re-electing the eagerly exact opposite.