Obama’s Words

If Obama becomes president I will measure his presidency against his own words – starting with his acceptance speech. (I will measure a McCain presidency against his own words as well.) I caught parts of the speech while I was driving a moving truck last night and though I did not hear every word, there were a couple of parts that were noteworthy.

What — what is that American promise? It’s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have obligations to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It’s a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, to look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours — ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves: protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools, and new roads, and science, and technology. (p. 3)

Businesses have the responsibility to play by the rules of the road – what he left unsaid is that he believes that government has the right/responsibility to define the rules of the road. While there may be some rules that government should define, most of the rules of the road should be left to the market.

Perhaps more disturbing to me is that third paragraph which starts promisingly with the admission that “government cannot solve all our problems,” and that it should stick to doing things that we cannot do for ourselves. I’d like to know why we cannot “{keep} our toys safe, invest in new schools, and new roads, and science, and technology.” In the short term and on specific projects it may make sense for the government to make those investments, but we do ourselves a disservice if we learn to expect that government should be respoonsible for all those things that we can do for ourselves.

If Obama becomes President I will weigh what he does against these words:

And, Democrats, Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us . . . each of us must do our part . . .

Yes, we must provide more ladders to success . . . But we must also admit that programs alone can’t replace parents, that government can’t turn off the television and make a child do her homework, that fathers must take more responsibility to provide love and guidance to their children.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility, that’s the essence of America’s promise. (p. 4 to p. 5)

Those are wonderful and true words but if his policies do not support that requirement for individual responsibility his will be a failed presidency – regardless of his popularity. (I’m confident that the mutual responsibility aspect will not be ignored under Democratic leadership.)

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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5 Responses to Obama’s Words

  1. Reach Upward says:

    Obama’s rhetoric sounds centrist, but his policies are all extremely left, as noted by the WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/public/article_print/SB121997396071782159.html .

  2. David says:

    I know that – which is why I will judge him against his rhetoric. I don’t have high hopes that his policies will be centrist, but when they aren’t I will be among those saying “. . . but you said . . .” (In other words – I’ll be among those calling him a politician.)

  3. Tom says:

    This part felt off to me: “but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs,…” Call me silly, but excepting the New Deal, I don’t know that has ever been the responsibility of business (along with some of the others he listed).

    I’m a big fan of “corporate responsibility” (often interpreted to mean charity work and otherwise playing nice), but I see such a path as a logical choice for any company that intends to be around long for the long term. In other words, intelligent companies (properly) choose to give out of their own self-interest. If there actually is some altruism involved, so much the better.

    Still, it smacks of socialism to suggest that work exists primarily for the benefit of the employee, not the consumer or owner.

  4. Carl says:

    A note on Tom’s comment. The corporation exists solely for the benefit of its owners. Obama was off to suggest that a corporation exists to produce jobs. They are most definitely not charity organizations.

  5. David says:

    Tom and Carl,

    You are both right. Obama’s words there clearly demonstrate the view from the left that government has the right to “manage” private enterprise and that individual rights are nice rhetoric, but they really believe in playing Robin Hood while ignoring those rights.

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