Kathleen Parker writes in this article:
“Thus, in post-Judeo-Christian America, the sports club is the new church. Global warming is the new religion. Vegetarianism is the new sacrament. Hooking up, the new prayer. Talk therapy, the new witnessing. Tattooing and piercing, the new sacred symbols and rituals.”
Parker’s words strike a chord. This church of secular narcissism also has its gods to worship. Parker writes that for this crowd, “apparently, Barack Obama is the new messiah.” Parker quotes a 20-year-old Obama-ite as saying that Obama is “like, whoa….” She then goes on to opine, “Whatever the Church of Obama promises, we should not mistake this movement for a renaissance of reason. It is more like, well, like whoa.”
There is no doubt that Obama’s campaign is working hard to package him as a messiah-like brand. And it is true that some of Obama’s supporters do a fine impression of tent revivalists. But according to Stephen F. Hayes, articles like Parker’s miss the point. Hayes notes in this article that Obama is able to disarmingly articulate his positions “in ways Americans can understand.”
Hayes’ article brings to light a rather odd thing. Republicans have spent the last two decades looking in vain for the next incarnation of Ronald Reagan. Democrats have spent the past three decades detesting Reagan. But now the next Reagan is leading the nomination race in the Democratic Party.
Of course, the policies of Obama and Reagan stand in sharp contrast to each other. But, like Reagan, Obama has a talent for using the power of words in a way that appeals to people and gives them a sense of something beyond mere politics. The critics of Obama’s airy rhetoric sound a lot like Reagan’s detractors of a quarter century ago. Like those Reagan detractors, claims Hayes, today’s Obama critics are underestimating the target of their scorn.
Isn’t Obama the U.S. Senate’s most liberal member? Yes. Isn’t he very short on executive, federal legislative, and foreign policy experience? Yes. But none of that will matter to a lot of voters if they get the sense that Obama can, to use Reagan’s words, “make America great again.”
For those of you that fear that Obama is the devil, Russ Roberts offers some consoling (although not very comforting) words in this NPR commentary. Roberts says that we like living in a fantasy world where we think that our candidate is going to be different by actually following through on campaign rhetoric.
“But,” says Roberts, our politicians “always break our hearts, don’t they?” Why? Because once they are in office they “respond to the political winds, rather than the rhetoric that got them elected. And when they break their promises because it’s politically expedient, they always have a justification.”
“The good news,” Roberts opines, is that the “evil candidate from the other party that you hate, isn’t nearly as dangerous as you think. Once in office, he or she will listen to the public rather than to principles. It happens every time.”
This might seem like a rather cynical view, but it is not terribly far off from reality. In a democratic republic the public doesn’t let any chief executive get too far away from what the mainstream wants for very long. We can be grateful that our Founders designed a system with this kind of strength.
Despite harsh rhetoric that claims otherwise, our relatively weak chief executive office won’t support a dictator. The curtain will soon be swept aside on any politician elected as a messianic figure to reveal just another fallible human — just another politician.