Certainly, 2009 is not ending on the note that Obama supporters – or the President himself – expected. Iran develops a nuclear arsenal unchecked, spitting in the eyes of the United States and the rest of the world. As evidenced on Christmas Day, Al Qaeda adherents still plot to murder innocent Americans. Notwithstanding his campaign pledge to slow the rise of the oceans, President Obama will find it difficult to execute at home the climate-change promises he made abroad.
And that’s just foreign policy. At home, the “stimulus” rushed through Congress with the promise of a quick economic recovery and more jobs has shown no results – except trillions in new deficits, high unemployment and a continuing story of payoffs to key Democrat constituencies. Health care “reform” – intended as the apotheosis of liberal, big-government do-gooderism – has degenerated into a political disaster for the Democrats, with significant majorities of Republicans and independents opposing new congressional legislation so misbegotten that even its supporters characterize it as “flawed.”
Yet even as Obama’s partisans have been surprised, perhaps his political adversaries have been astonished, as well. Given the uncritical coverage of the new President by the media during last year’s campaign – and the warm embrace extended to him by the overwhelming majority of Americans last January – the magnitude of the burgeoning, spirited (but non-violent) repudiation of his brand of big-government liberalism has been heartening, and amazing.
Too often over the years, all the political passion (and public demonstrations of it) has seemed to come from groups on the left seeking an ever-larger role for government in American life. Students, unions, actors, community organizers and such have made most of the noise, not coincidentally because they’ve been the ones with the time and the inclination to do it. Those on the other side – small business people, the self-employed, stay-at-home moms and the like – have traditionally worked to succeed within the status quo, rather than constantly trying to change it. Often they’ve been so busy, in fact, that they’ve failed to notice when little bits of their liberty have been incrementally chipped away.