Where’s the next Calvin Coolidge when you need him or her? Humble. Quiet. Effective.
Today, we have rock-star candidates who work the crowd with charisma, humor and “like-ability” rather than running a campaign based on sound policy and Constitutional awareness. Such is the inevitable role of the modern politician, but one cannot entirely blame the farmer for raising the day’s crop of choice or the singer for performing a modern number.
President Obama spoke to students at Colorado State University on Tuesday afternoon, adroitly maneuvering a series of somewhat predictable campaign topics with his typical charm.
Some of the key themes included taxes, foreign policy, healthcare, gay rights, education and renewable energy. Obama toed the party line, as expected, and he did not seem to offer any non-partisan positions during the rally.
Much of the opening and closing remarks centered on our obligation to posterity. The president made it clear that the youth of today will determine the quality of tomorrow, and he urged students to register to vote for this election.
More than one false dilemma was presented during the speech, including the assumption that raising taxes should be a primary goal, rather than eliminating government programs. The only question in Obama’s mind is who to raise taxes on.
While I can nod my head and agree with a number of the peripheral policy commitments that Obama discussed on Tuesday, I find his core vision for the country to be dissatisfactory based.
“Understand your power,” Obama urged. “Don’t Give it away.” But perhaps a look at history and our modern context will illuminate a double-standard in Obama’s advice.
FDR’s Secretary of Treasury, Henry Morganthau, famously disagreed with his commander in chief concerning the role of government in the United States. The now public correspondence between the two betrays a disturbing method employed by FDR in order to remain in office.
His recipe for success was simple: openly demonize business via class warfare while providing for the lower class through government programs. By installing tax-funded federal aid for the poor and unemployed, as in the New Deal, FDR admittedly sought to make an entire class of Americans dependent on the government for their well-being. They would, he predicted, have no choice but to vote for him to keep those programs in place.
This devious and highly effective approach to the presidency, along with other factors, garnered FDR four terms in office by guaranteeing life-long support from those who stood to benefit from New Deal policies.
I find this design to be immorally exploitative and unsustainable, yet I see this same pattern being replicated today with similar success rates. Obama’s blatant disdain for wealthy businessmen plays on the exact same theme.
So while the President’s speech on CSU campus may have been rife with the typical feel-goodery, patriotism and wit that we are accustomed to, there are deeper principles to consider this November. What sort of presidency do we really want to empower for these next four years?
This election cycle, neither candidate even remotely represents my vision for the country, but it is thrilling to see an electrified crowd of students gathered on campus in the name of the democratic process.
This is pivotal time for our nation, and power will always be easier to relinquish than to regain. Vote carefully.
Our thanks to President Obama for stopping by our college town to take part in Colorado’s conversation.
Jason Kincaid is a junior philosophy major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.