President Obama and the Problem of Evil
There are things President Obama has done or is doing of which I do not personally approve: expanding the “war” in Afghanistan, drone warfare, assassinations, defending Wall Street, protecting war criminals like Bush/Cheney, being too eager to compromise on taxes, health care, and so on. It is probably fair to say he has his faults, some of them more important than others. But there is one facet of Obama’s behavior that is difficult to criticize as it may be interpreted as a truly good feature of his personality or one not so good. It has to do with his apparent belief about the problem of evil.
I think the worst single mistake Obama has made as President, at least during the majority of his first term was believing that evil does not, or perhaps even could not exist. I think he truly believed that he could get Republicans to compromise with him. He attempted over and over again to get bipartisan help for important issues like health care, deficit reduction, tax increases, appointments and so on. I don’t believe he thought even for a moment that Republicans would simply oppose everything he tried to do to increase employment, provide health care, improve education, unemployment insurance, minimum wages, or whatever. I think he was (perhaps still is) constitutionally unable to believe that Republicans would oppose such obvious necessities for the well-being of citizens of the United States. I don’t think this was a result merely of naivete as I suspect that many Americans felt the same way. It is, of course, completely unprecedented that one of the two political parties would simply refuse to govern at all, that what has always been considered the loyal opposition would become the disloyal opposition.
In fact, I confess that I, too, cannot believe that Republicans are apparently opposed to virtually anything designed to help ordinary people in their everyday lives: health care, unemployment insurance, food stamps, education, day care, Social Security, Medicare, minimum wages, unions, abortions, contraception, women’s health, any increase in taxes, jobs, you name it and they are against it. I don’t believe this is all simply because they oppose Obama, there has to be a more fundamental reason but I can’t understand what it could be. This opposition to helping others goes against everything I was taught as a child: the golden rule, helping the less fortunate, fair play, honesty, opportunity for all, and etc. And quite frankly, I do not remember in my younger years that even Republicans were opposed to such things. True, they were always considered a party of business and the wealthy, but not to the extremes they now seem to promote. Even Presidents Johnson and Nixon managed to get Republicans to sign on to at least some positive legislation. I’m not sure what happened to change things so drastically, but I believe it started with Ronald Reagan, a basically mindless twit so obsessed with his beliefs about communism and welfare he was willing to go to any lengths to destroy them both. And of course the transition from a bona fide political party into a quasi criminal conspiracy gained traction during the Clinton administration when even common decency was abandoned for political gain. Bush/Cheney went even further with this program of destruction, following Rove’s attempt to create a permanent Republican takeover. No lie was too egregious, too disgusting, too dishonest, to help them attain their all out assault on taxpayers for the benefit of the wealthy and corporations. Conservatives laid the groundwork carefully for what is now paying off for them, bribing Congress, loading the courts with conservative judges, changing an already imperfect Republic into a state of near Fascism.
The effect of their attack on taxpayers and ordinary citizens is now being exposed for the scam it is. The free market capitalism they have touted as the only worthwhile economic system has failed miserably, doom and gloom has come over the land, inequality is slowly destroying the nation, the environment, infrastructure, educational system, and even the climate have been shamefully neglected while intent on empire and the military have become the priorities. The entire world is in the clutches of a small number of international corporations that now control virtually everything. And what a remarkable situation they have achieved. They pay millions, even billions, to attain their goals, but most of that money simply goes out of one of their pockets into another one, the benefactors of all that largesse are mostly television and newspapers owned by the same corporations that provide the funds from other businesses. It’s like renting cars from your own car rental company to your other companies that need them. The money just circulates endlessly within the same parent corporation. It’s almost as good as perpetual motion.
It appears that Obama may be in the process of giving up his childish beliefs in truth and beauty. I hope it won’t be too late.
It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded.
W. Somerset Maugham