Thursday, July 16, 2009

Obama the Dictator? Part 3: Conclusions

Note: this series of posts is distilled from a conversation I had online, in which my responses were so over-long and verbose that I realized they'd make better blog posts. Some slight changes have been made to style, but the content is the same.

Obama is not fascist: a mere definitional examination of the term is enough to easily rule that out. Nor is he a dictator: he won in a popular election, as well as in the electoral college. Dictators rarely, if ever, come into power through fair or open elections. And his presidential power is not unique or unprecedented; we just had 8 years of expansion of executive power, so it should come as no surprise that the current president enjoys many of the powers awarded his predecessor. This is all unexpected.

The disappointment in the conclusion, then, is that many similar abuses remain. Some of the targets of these abuses have changed (or, more correctly, some of the perceived victims may have changed), but the power remains, and has not been dismantled. We have a president in the United States with serious power. No surprise there. That some of it is unconstitutional is a bit disappointing, and that's the fun part of being a citizen.

Caring about politics means perpetual stewardship.

Even with the president you wanted, just as much as with the president you didn't. As Americans, with our peculiar form of democracy, we have to constantly work to secure the rights we should already have, to secure the ones we are wrongfully denied, and to make sure that our government accurately reflects us as people. The only things outright damaging to this system are apathy (which allows others more invested to dictate all decisions), and powerlessness/rage (which themselves see the destruction of existing institutions as the only way to freedom). I don't feel that either of those are viable, but they both offer the easy moral shortcut of wiping one's hands clean of this nation. To care, to be invested in this nation, one has to accept the existence some terrible things while one works to make them right. I'm a bit of a statist, so my default position is always that change can come gradually, and can come from within. And partisan though I am, this is true across administrations. Very little will change that, while very little will convince the apathetic/powerless/angry that this is possible.

No comments: