Who Mourns for Obama?

During the fall of our last Presidential elections, I was at my 30th college reunion. I rarely miss every fifth year, and was delighted to be able to make this one. I cannot recall me and any of my closest friends, who were sharing a Bed and Breakfast, discussing politics over the years. This time, the subject came up and we all gingerly edged into the topic.

Most of my friends would probably categorize themselves as liberals–some openly, some quietly. I have always had a sense that big government was our most fundamental problem in the US, but had not really been a strong libertarian until ten or fifteen years ago. This was new ground for us.

I had already noticed the number of Obama stickers on various items in the crowd. That itself was new, as I never recalled such before. Maybe it was the coincidence that our reunion coincides with elections only every twenty years. No one got really worked up over specifics, but it was clear that I was in a philosophical minority.

My contribution to the pool of thought went something like this. We are (were, still are) headed for an even more devastating financial catastrophe* and this slate of candidates is the worst I have ever seen in my lifetime. Privately, I thought that Obama would be so swamped with cleaning up the financial mess that he could not possibly implement his far-left agenda. I also thought he could not possibly be worse than McCain.

Boy, was I wrong.

It seemed to me there was an unspoken and visceral sense among my friends that somehow Obama would make up for every injustice perpetrated by the “right” over the intervening years. Whether because of race, political philosophy or a combination of both, he was somehow seen as the One We Have Been Waiting For. My friends from college are bright–exceptionally so. They are not given to the kind of swooning we saw from the ditzier left, yet I could not help sensing that they were caught up in a fantasy. Dreams are wholesome and invigorating. Fantasies often come to bad ends.

Now, conservatives write things like this, an I-told-you-so piece–no great surprise. The surprise is how rapidly the fantasy is disintegrating on the Left. Liberals liken Obama to Jimmy Carter, a comparison rarely meant as a compliment. So who does still love him? No one, it appears, except for the few holdouts who say he “has a hard job” or who think the Tea Party has it in for him personally. Why all the despair and anguish now?

I think it is rather like this. Obama personifies all that liberals fantasized about for decades. Never being anything except a fringe irritant, the Really Far Left saw in him the chance to make manifest their vision of an America cut down an notch or two, with quaint coffee shops along car-free downtown areas, and clean trains zipping along everywhere. You know, like Europe, where doctors rush selflessly (for free!) to help the sick and human beings are not so arrogant. The food is organic and the art inspiring. All is well because they tamed those nasty capitalists and created a more humane world.

Now the fantasy is melting before their eyes, and they are not happy. I am glad in a way, though we will pay for our indulgence dearly. The Far Left has stamped its feet and raged for decades that the world would embody their ideals if it weren’t for all the ugly sensibilities of everyone else. Showing their massive lack of substance, they are abandoning Obama in droves. They won’t say so, but they are thinking, “If he can’t do it, who can?”

The answer is no one. No one can bring about their vision because their vision contains hopeless contradictions. Their policies are not impractical; they are impossible. Their every fantasy requires the cooperation of people who can actually create something of economic value. Yet every fantasy also contains a seething hatred of those who do so. Obama is now the culprit. They hate him now because he ran full-speed and face-first into that contradiction. He embarrassed them by unveiling the statue of jello that is the Left. As it quivers and melts into a puddle, who will mourn for the man that failed them?


*I briefly entertained writing a set of predictions for our next reunion, one that included 20% per year inflation. 2013? Could be…

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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