Obama: Reject Voices Warning of Tyranny

Barack Obama at Ohio State University

During a commencement address at The Ohio State University, President Barack Obama praised government, played down the role of the individual, and urged students to reject the voices of tyranny.

“We, the people, chose to do these things together — because we know this country cannot accomplish great things if we pursue nothing greater than our own individual ambition,” President Obama told graduating students. “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works.”

“They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner,” he continued. “You should reject these voices.  Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”

The shot against “individual ambition” is ironic because President Obama himself is the defintion of that term. He was an Illinois state senator who gave a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Later that year, he was elected to the United States Senate. By 2007, he was campaigning full-time for his party’s presidential nomination, which he won in 2008, and would subsequently be elected president.

If that doesn’t define ambition, what does? That’s not a shot against him, by the way. President Obama’s personal story is one that should be admired. The problem with him, of course, is the policies he pushes, which leads us to the next point.

As noted, President Obama downplays those who warn of tyranny. While the United States is still the most free nation in the world, there has been a stunning tilt away from liberty since September 11, 2001.

It’s in our nature, unfortunately, to want more government in the event of a crisis. After the Great Depression, Americans were willing to trade economic liberties for temporary security, policies that actually prolonged the economic troubles of the nation by seven years. Nearly a decade later, the Roosevelt Administration — one of the most shameful moments in our modern history — forcibly interred thousands of Japanese-Americans out of the fear that they would collude with our enemies in World War II.

Since 9/11, Americans have seen their civil liberties threatened through policies authorized by President George W. Bush, including the PATRIOT Act and warrantless wiretaps. Americans who opposed the these actions and the Iraq War had their patriotism questioned and were frequently told that if they were doing nothing wrong, then they had nothing about which to worry. Nevermind that these policies blatantly violate the Bill of Rights.

These policies have been carried over by President Obama, and, in fact, he’s expanded upon them and pursued new policies that would curtail the civil liberties of Americans. Whether it comes to his push for gun control regulations, new regulations limiting the right to free speech, indefinite detention of Americans who are merely accused of terrorism, drones strikes on American citizens, or expanded surveillance on our communications.

We’re now told that we have to purchase a health insurance plan that meets minimum coverage requirements, whether we want it or not. Washington has put a tremendous burden on the backs of Americans by running up four years of $1 trillion deficits and a $16.7 trillion national debt, which doesn’t include the $60+ trillion in unfunded liabilities thanks to our entitlement programs.

How are these policies not representative of tyranny? As noted, we’re still a free nation by comparison; however, we are on a slippery slope to more government control over our lives. Obama, of course, refuses to admit that he has overseen the greatest expansion of government since the 1930s.

Jefferson on Tyranny

“We have never been a people who place all of our faith in government to solve our problems; we shouldn’t want to,” he said during the commencement address. “But we don’t think the government is the source of all our problems, either.  Because we understand that this democracy is ours.  And as citizens, we understand that it’s not about what America can do for us; it’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but absolutely necessary work of self-government.”

There is no entity more responsible for the problems that face the United States than its own government. The answer to the problems that government has created is, unfortunately, more government. This always comes at the expensive of our liberties, whether we’re talking about economic or civil liberties. That is, by definition, tyranny.


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