Question For The President: “Do You Feel Like I Do?”

Posted: Aug 02, 2009 12:00 AM

“Do you feel like I do?”

That’s not just a title of a famous song from “classic rock” Artist Peter Frampton. That’s a question I’d like to ask of President Barack Obama. Specifically, I’d like to ask him “do you feel like I do about the United States of America?”

Since its release last Wednesday, July 29, much has been said and written about the new Rasmussen Reports poll, indicating that nearly one out of two U.S. voters believe that the nation’s best days are in the past. The level of pessimism varies according to demographic categories, but overall, Americans aren’t feeling very hopeful about our country.

But buried within the details of the polling data is an even more interesting statistic - notwithstanding their pessimism about the future, 69% of Americans nonetheless believe that American society is still “fair” and “decent.” Still more interesting, only 49% of Americans believe that President Obama shares their views in this regard. This is to say that roughly half of Americans think that Mr. Obama views America as being inherently “unfair,” and “indecent.”

I’ve believed this about President Obama for quite some time. And while I can’t ever truly know another person’s thoughts and emotions, I’ve suspected that, while our President believes our country to be “unfair” and “indecent,” he also considers it his job to “fix” us.

Because of these suspicions, I also imagine that his economic policies are intended, to some degree, to weaken the United States. The less robust the U.S. is economically, the more opportunity President Obama has to intervene in the private economy and try to determine economic outcomes, and therefore ensure “fairness” the way he would define it. I know this may seem outrageous, and even politically untenable - conventional wisdom suggests that Presidents need to have the economy prosper on their watch, or they lose favor with the American people and can ultimately lose a re-election bid. But, despite the political risks involved, I think this theory has some plausibility to it, and I believe this for at least a couple of reasons.

For one, a sinking economy provides Obama greater opportunity to “rescue” frightened and suffering Americans with social welfare programs. This, in turn, creates a greater dependence on government itself - which ultimately is a dependence on him (I suspect he likes us being dependent on him), and also creates greater opportunity for the President to punish wealthier Americans with higher taxes, and to redistribute wealth to people that he believes are deserving of it.

But beyond the domestic ramifications of making Americans more dependent, Obamanomics also has the potential to change America’s place in the world. In fact, I think this is a significant part of the President’s agenda, and arguably, this is already starting to happen.

It simply makes no sense to try and view Obama through the lenses of American prosperity, and with the assumption that growing the U.S. economy is a good and noble and necessary thing, because his economic policies are counterintuitive to such things. Yet if we view Obama with a different set of assumptions in mind - that American prosperity itself is a problem to be remedied, or that the U.S. has become an economic superpower at the expense of other nations and deserves to be “ratcheted down” a bit - - then his economic policies begin to appear rational, and to make sense.

And Obamanomics is certainly repositioning our nation. Twice since his inauguration, the Communist government of China has expressed alarm about the United States’ ballooning national deficit, and has begun to balk at purchasing more U.S. debt. Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has described President Obama’s economic policies as “a way to hell,” and has predicted calamity for the United States. Russia and China have both publicly urged the creation of a new, “global currency,” to replace what they believe is an ill-fated U.S. dollar. And all the while, the U.S. unemployment rate continues to rise and the GDP continues to fall.

So why would President Obama feel so badly about American success and prosperity, and try to “reign it in?” I suspect this has to do with his foreign upbringing - a facet of his life which he has deemed to be very important. There's nothing wrong with spending one's formative years in Indonesia. But what President Obama lacks is the experience available only to those who have history and heritage in the U.S. It’s the experience of knowing that, because of the American economic system and the opportunity that it affords (NOT despite it), one’s family lineage can be transformed from being poor, to being comfortably middle class or even wealthy. This is the “American story” for millions of us alive today, and because of this, we view our nation with gratitude, not contempt.

President Obama lacks this kind of experience. And without it, I don’t think he could feel the way I do about the United States - even if he tried.