Everything was supposed to be different by now. When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, it was supposed to herald the dawning of a brave new world. A trillion dollars or so of stimulus money handed out to the right Democratic constituent groups would cause an economic boom to pay for a slew of expertly administered programs that would cure every social ill, a bit of the impeccably multi-cultural president’s silver-tongued oratory in Cairo would soothe the most savage Islamist breast, and the most transparent administration in history would reveal no taint of the scandals that had so offended liberal sensibilities for the previous eight years. By now, the faithful truly believed, everyone would be marching in formation behind the great leader toward a glorious future.
Although it seems so very long ago, we vividly recall running into a friend who had just returned from an Obama rally on the eve of the Democrats’ state caucus back in ’08. She spoke at length about the wonderful things her newfound hero would surely accomplish, and with such a youthful idealism in her star-struck eyes that we were tempted to slap some sense into her, then promised that the best part would be when the country stopped bickering and was at long last united. When we assured her this would not happen, and that we were certain of the fact because we had every intention of opposing with every legal means at our disposal, she seemed quite taken aback but only momentarily disappointed by the news. Everyone else she knew was apparently of one mind about Obama’s leadership, and she was confident that the few contrarians would eventually come around.
The same expectation was widely shared by the president’s supporters, and for a while there it seemed possible that the opposition of a few individualists would indeed be overwhelmed by the collective adulation of the masses. Most of the media did their part, overlooking Obama’s paltry record of legislative accomplishments, longtime membership in the First Church of Hate Whitey, his sneering characterization of small town Americans, and various other scandals while focusing on the most minute and sometimes imaginary scandals of the opposition, and the photographs always seemed to include some sort of halo effect. Dissent was suddenly unfashionable after Obama’s election, and those who did dare express were treated harshly in the court of public opinion. A well-known radio commentator who openly hoped for Obama’s failure was pilloried in the press, and the president himself warned congress not to listen. The only television news organization that assumed an adversarial role in its coverage was widely mocked, with the president criticizing it by name. A mass protest movement by ordinary Americans opposed to the administration’s deficit spending and extensive health care reforms was portrayed by most of the news media as an extremist element constantly on the verge of violent revolution and was relentlessly ridiculed by the entertainment media. The bond holders in nationalized auto companies, Supreme Court justices issuing unfavorable rulings, wealthy donors to conservative causes, and others who stood in the way of the administration received similar vitriol.
In recent weeks it has been revealed that the official harassment of the administration’s opponents went beyond far beyond name-calling and stigmatization, with protest groups subjected to the menacing scrutiny of the Internal Revenue Service, journalists being treated as suspects in criminal investigations simply for doing their jobs, donors to opposition campaigns being hounded by various agencies of the government, and businesses being approached for donations by people with regulatory power over their industries. The administration professes to be appalled at what has been happening to the very people they have eagerly demonized for the past five years, and insists that of course it has nothing to do with what has been going on in its government, but the public seems to be growing skeptical lately. There’s no shaking a suspicion that the president had also expected that everyone would have fallen in line by now, and is not troubled if some are pressured rather than persuaded.
The economy has whimpered rather than boomed, the various new programs have shown little success and the big Obamacare triumph is looking like a “train wreck” even to its sponsors, the murderous impulses of Islamist terrorism are somehow proving immune to the president’s oratory, and the bickering continues in a country that is far from united. All of which makes it even more crucial to quash the dissent, as the entire collectivist project depends on having everyone go along. If some private company starts fracking oil and gas on private lands it keeps the prices down too low for the government’s “green energy” plans to succeed. People with legal claims to the industries being nationalized make it difficult to transfer their wealth to more favored groups. News organizations that report stories embarrassing to the administration undermine public confidence in the government’s ability to solve all their problems. Tax protestors make it difficult to raise the revenue required for an ever-expanding government. Donors to the opposition might even wind up getting a Republican elected.
Such dire outcomes cannot be tolerated, not when there’s a brave new world that might yet be achieved, and it should not come as a surprise that some people have been taught a lesson about keeping their mouths shut.
— Bud Norman