COMMENTARY | Nile Gardiner, writing for the UK Telegraph, suggests that President Barack Obama is headed for an electoral disaster in 2012. This runs counter not to the conventional wisdom on both sides of the Atlantic.
Gardiner cites familiar reasons for President Obama’s electoral weakness: the bad economy in the United States and the president’s declining poll numbers. But Gardiner also has the following insight:
“There is no feel good factor in America at the moment. But there is a great deal of uncertainty, nervousness, even fear over the future of the world’s only superpower. This is hardly a solid foundation for a presidential victory for the incumbent.”
Gardiner seems to have hit the nail on the head. In 1979-80, there was a sense that America was in decline, but the blame was placed on the incompetence of President Jimmy Carter rather than a deliberate design. There is a suspicion, largely unspoken but widespread, that Obama may be presiding over the decline of the United States as a super power. He is doing so, it is said, because he has an ideological problem with the United States as a strong, unilateral force in the world.
A hint of Obama’s attitude toward the country he was elected to govern came when he was in Strasbourg, France, when he sneered at the idea of American exceptionalism.
“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism,” Obama said, according to the Washington Times.
Obama mistook exceptionalism for patriotism or love of country, which are different concepts. American exceptionalism is based on the premise that America, unlike any country in the world, is based not on a language or a race, but a set of ideas. Those ideas include the primacy of freedom, the rights of the individual, and the virtue of free markets. Unlike most countries, anyone can become an American, regardless of where they came from originally.
At the same event, Obama said that America had “shown arrogance,” a curious thing to accuse his own country of considering it has brought freedom to hundreds of millions of people, winning World War I, World War II, and the Cold War and is even now at the tip of the spear in the war on terror.
Obama’s disdain for his own country has manifested itself in various, pernicious ways. In passing health care reform and huge increases in social spending while slashing military spending and ending NASA’s Constellation space exploration program, the president seems bent on remaking the country of his birth from the rugged, free market super power that he disdains to the European-style welfare state that he prefers.
Gardiner correctly observes that the American people are recoiling from this vision of their future. That is why they have inflicted a political tsunami on the president and his party in 2010. Gardiner seems to be predicting that part two is to come next year.
It also suggests that the Republican candidate who will best be able to beat Obama will be the person who can best articulate a vision of America as a uniquely great nation, founded to do great things. Such a person would make the next presidential election a world one that will change the course of history.
Source: Why Barack Obama may be heading for electoral disaster in 2012, Nile Gardiner, UK Telegraph, June 2, 2011
American Exceptionalism, Washington Times, July1, 2009
Barack Obama and American “Arrogance”, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, April 6, 2009