The Obama Administration and the Future

Last modified on August 25th, 2010

You know, I remember being in a pub in Yaletown with my friend Dave the night Obama was elected. The place was absolutely packed, and other than the people who were seated there early, it was standing room only for everyone else. There were TVs all over the place showing what was going on in the states, and everyone was glued to the TV, waiting to see the results.

I’m not at all joking when I say this next part — people cried in the Yaletown Brew Pub when Obama was elected. In Vancouver, Canada, in the heart of one of the most pretentious areas in North America, people cried when the new president of the United States, Barack Obama, was elected. It wasn’t just one person with an itchy eye either, there were tears all over the place.

And who could blame them? Obama represented morality and change. For the first time in ages, here was a president that presented the world with hope that things might be better, not just in the United States, but on a global stage. Close Guantanamo, improve the economy, implement a health care plan. These were all noble goals.

But here we are, nearly two years since that day, and for the most part Obama has been a pretty big let down. Obviously he inherited the worst economy since the great depression, and also the longest war in in the history of the US. But even so, I can’t help but feel that there was a lot of smoke in his campaign, but not a lot of fire after the fact.

I was watching the movie National Treasure not that long ago, and there’s a line that stands out to me. While reading the Declaration of Independence, Nicolas Cage’s character remarks nostalgically that people don’t speak that way any more.

And they don’t.

Nobody talks about liberty any more, or the values associated with it. It’s just an abstract concept that people take for granted. And as a result, at least in the United States, those liberties have been slowly (and ironically, approvingly) taken away a piece at a time. How will liberty die? If the Patriot Act is any indication, then it’ll be like George Lucas’ fictional vision of the past – it’ll die by thunderous applause.

Thomas Jefferson once commented that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. ” I’m not a violent person, but I often wonder what the future will hold. I’ve always been a supporter of gun restrictions, mainly due to accidental deaths. But the reality is that it’s hard to defend one’s self against their own government without arms. That’s the basis for the United State’s Second Amendment to the Constitution — that the right to bear arms is a fundamentally protected right.

Bear in mind that the founding fathers had seen the result of government gone astray. The Constitution in many ways represents the desire by the founding fathers of the US for reduced government – a government with it’s powers purposefully splintered into separate bodies to protect against the tendency of government to usurp power.

I was watching a few videos tonight of some of the presidential and candidate debates from 2008. Of those of note are some by Ron Paul, a person I hadn’t been familiar with at the time, but have now come to appreciate as a Libertarian and a Republican. Despite not being in the runnings really for president, he was third for raising funds, probably because many ordinary people associate with Paul’s core values — reduce government and restore the constitution.

In one video of Paul from the presidential debates, he remarks that 9/11 was simply Blowback, the end result of decades of intervention by the United States in the Middle East, often under the guise of promoting freedom when in fact it was often to protect the United States’ energy policy.

Without a doubt, it was in my mind. Prime Minister Jean Chretien also said something similar shortly after 9/11 (and I gained some respect for him for saying it) – that it was imperative that nations, especially the United States, reevaluate their foreign policies in the context of 9/11 to see if they contributed to that event. He took flack for saying it, as did Ron Paul by Mayor Giuliani.

Obama has two years left to turn things around. Given his massively inflationary policies regarding the economy, it’s pretty much certain that the US economy will be in complete shambles by 2012, and I find it unlikely he’ll be re-elected on that fact alone. But a lot can happen between now and then, so we’ll see what happens I guess in a few years. I for one have been a bit disappointed in his performance, mainly in some of his key campaign promises such as closing Gitmo. But maybe he’ll turn things around in the next two years.