Do you ever find yourself wondering what has happened to the America you grew up in? The longer Barack Obama is in office, the more often I have these thoughts. I find myself recalling what Theodore Roosevelt said about Woodrow Wilson when all of Europe was stumbling haphazardly toward World War I: “It is not a good thing for a country to have…a president with an astute and shifty mind, a hypocritical ability to deceive plain people…and no real knowledge or wisdom concerning internal and international affairs as head of the nation.” One wonders if Roosevelt was a psychic. He could have been talking about Barack Obama.
As you can see from Roosevelt’s quote, Barack Obama was not the first president to lead America down the wrong path. Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton all contributed their share to disenfranchising Americans who still share the vision of the Founders. But of all these left-leaning presidents, none led America farther away from its roots than Barack Obama. It is no stretch to claim, as I do, that President Obama has done more damage to the status, economy, and values of America than all of his left-leaning predecessors combined.
Socio-cultural change in America was happening well before Barack Obama took office, but it was happening slowly—slowly enough that Americans became accustomed to it, just as Saul Alinsky said we would. The left has been boiling the frog, as the saying goes, and conservative Americans are the frog. But with Barack Obama in office, the left finally had a fellow traveler in the White House who would champion even their most shrilly anti-American causes. As a result, much of what conservatives believe about the American ideal has been turned upside down. Consider just a few examples of how the left has inverted the socio-cultural landscape in America:
- Poverty is rewarded and success is punished. President Obama’s policies reward poverty by making it acceptable and economically feasible to remain poor. His rhetoric has turned poverty into a condition imposed on poor people by the heartless wealthy who refuse to “give their fair share.” Working hard, long, and smart to build a better life is no longer the American dream. That dream has been supplanted by an entitlement mentality that says, the government has to take care of me because I am a victim.
- The president thinks he has to apologize for America. President Obama is constantly apologizing to enemies and allies alike for America’s supposed sins. In the America where I grew up, presidents did not apologize to country’s or heads of state who either hate the United States and everything it stands for or have no gratitude for what our country has done for them. In the America where I grew up, we would not have elected a president who thinks he has to apologize for our country. In the past, even liberal presidents projected pride in America because they understood and appreciated the enormous contributions our country has made to freedom throughout the world.
- Achievement was stressed over self-esteem. In the America where I grew up students were rewarded for achievement, competition was intense, and grades were awarded on the basis of merit. Self-discipline, self-sufficiency, personal responsibility, and hard work were stressed, not self-esteem, multiculturalism, and entitlement. Tolerance was not the bottom line issue that trumps all other considerations, as it is now. What were tolerated in the America where I grew up were such things as hard work, extra effort, doing one’s best, helping carry the load, and pitching in to help others. Failure was tolerated, but only if the best possible effort had been made and the appropriate lessons learned. Every student who tried out did not make the team, losing teams did not get trophies, and the scoreboard was not covered to keep players on losing teams from getting their feelings hurt. Life was full of little disappointments and people were expected to cope with them without whining or expecting special treatment.
These are just a few ways that the America where I grew up has changed. There are plenty of others. For example, parents used to be able to spank children who misbehaved without fear of going to jail, the 10 Commandments could be displayed in public buildings, children and their teachers could pray in school, the rights of the individual came before the rights of the government, parents believed they—not the government—were responsible for their children, owning a home was viewed as a privilege not a government guaranteed right, the government would not have dared tell parents they could not give their children raw milk, and grandma would never have been strip searched before boarding an airplane.