By Any Other Name…

We love to hate our Presidents.  Lincoln was reviled by states’ rights advocates.  Roosevelt was thought by Wall Street to be the devil incarnate.  George W. Bush was characterized by the Left as a dunce and a Nazi.  And Obama, well, yes, there’s him.

Barack Obama has done us all a great favor.  Love him or hate him, he has brought our political discussion out in the open where it belongs. I cannot remember such an energetic outpouring of political opinion by ordinary citizens since the Viet Nam War.  Back then many of us were worried that our narrow behinds might be in the jungle getting shot off.  That’s important stuff in my estimation, having grown fond of me wee arse over the years.

What is at stake now, though?  Certainly not the draft.  We have a volunteer army.  There is no credible threat of an armed invasion of our homeland (though there are plenty of kooks who want to blow things up with homemade bombs).  The economy stinks on ice, but realistically, little has been disrupted so far.  Yet Americans are increasingly irritable and surly.

We have our current President to thank for that.  Now hold on–I don’t mean he is the cause of our anger.  Sure, plenty of his policies are controversial, but that is not what I mean.  I think the real reason that Obama is so divisive is that we can no longer hide behind complacency and cynicism.  Events in Washington matter.

We rely more on government and less on ourselves than ever before.  It just seems to have happened, with no great revolution or “movement.”  The portion of the general populace that objected remained quietly irritated and went about their business.  The portion that was in favor of it needed only to wait–no need to agitate for the inevitable.  That time is past.

Bush could pretend that he was not a socialist even as he pushed to bail out big businesses and spent money like a shopping addict on speed.  Obama pretends not to be a socialist too.  But we all know that what quacks like a duck probably is a duck. If you support Obama and the Democrats’ agenda, please don’t insult me by claiming they are not really socialists.  If you support the Republicans, please don’t insult me by pretending they are any different.

For all the turmoil, the last election may have been a blessing in disguise.  Let’s not pretend any longer that ducks are not ducks and socialists are not socialists.  We have to decide which way this country is going to go–toward a larger state that affects more and more of our lives or a smaller one that leaves its citizens to decide and fend for themselves.

I know which side I am on, but that is not the point.  The point is that there are serious consequences for either point of view.  Better we acknowledge that fact and start debating these issues like adults than to try to fool the other side into thinking we are something that we are not.

— Terry tries hard not to pretend he is anything other than what he is.  Well, maybe a torch singer in a smoky bar now and then…

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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