By dint of legislative debacles at home and listless incoherence abroad, the Obama administration has decreased human freedom in every sphere it has entered. Five years into his presidency, Barack Obama presides over the most pronounced declination of individual freedom at home and abroad in the post-world war period.
Domestically, consider the unfolding disaster of the Affordable Care Act. Millions of health care policies were cancelled, negating millions of rational economic decisions by consumers concerning the best coverage for them and their families.
A direct consequence of the ACA is that individual autonomy – to choose a provider, a health plan, a doctor, a specialist – has been replaced by central command, and the results are literally sickening. Weekly, stories emerge of critically ill patients barred from life-saving care or treatment previously covered under health plans deemed inadequate by Obamacare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid assures us none of these stories is true. When he assumes the Minority Leader post in January 2015 he might reconsider that statement.
Adding insult to injury, restricted economic decision making has been accompanied by restrictions on religious freedom as religious citizens and institutions have been forced to provide contraception coverage that violates their core beliefs. The answer to apologist law professor Douglas Kmiec’s trenchant 2008 question – Can A Catholic Support Him? – has been squarely answered in the negative.
Politically, conservative citizens attempting to organize in not-for-profit corporations have been targeted for scrutiny by the IRS in a manner befitting Richard Nixon’s administration.
Legally, the monarchical selective enforcement of the law reinforces the maxim that an excess of law results only in tyranny. Almost weekly, the president re-writes the Affordable Care Act with impunity. Further, his Justice Department assists states in upending valid marriage laws passed by millions of voters, he unilaterally attempts to raise the minimum wage, and he makes a mockery of the immigration laws he purportedly seeks to comprehensively reform by granting waivers by executive fiat.
In the business arena, the president’s lackeys at the National Labor Relations Board attempted to bully Boeing for opening a plant in right-to-work South Carolina and have threatened to investigate the lawful worker vote against unionization at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee.America’s booming energy industry offers the potential for energy independence, but this president isn’t interested. In the first term, his team squandered billions on failed solar panels and car batteries. In the second term, domestic coal production has been targeted for elimination, offshore drilling has been blackballed, natural gas production permits are stymied by bureaucratic regulations, and new, job killing fuel regulations have been promised for heavy duty trucks by 2015. And the president continues to hold up the development of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will provide jobs (economic freedom) to millions.
This is just his record at home. Abroad, the results are even more dispiriting.
In Egypt, the uneasy peace that prevailed under Hosni Mubarak has been replaced by upheaval that has endangered religious minorities, political dissidents, and freedom of speech.
In Iraq, where so much American blood and treasure was spilt to depose a tyrant and create the region’s first democratic Muslim ally, al Qaeda fills the void left by the withdrawal of American leadership. As in Egypt, religious and political minorities cry out for American protection.
In Syria, the president’s red lines were ignored by a tyrant who scoffed at President Obama’s ultimatums. Surely Putin had advised Bashar Assad there was nothing to fear from Obama’s threats. Where Reagan loudly demanded that Gorbachev “tear down this wall” and opposed Soviet advances across the globe, the current president quietly whispered about the flexibility Russia would have after his reelection.
Applying that lesson in Ukraine, Putin realized that the American president would not oppose his expansionist agenda. Accordingly, Russia prepares to annex the Crimea while the world stands by. President Obama’s ultimatums, shown to be meaningless in the wake of the Syrian debacle, have no currency in a moment when action is required.
As more Americans look to Washington for solutions, abroad less will do so. Friends and foe alike wonder if America has lost its stomach for leadership. The president who promised to end “dumb” wars, speak to our enemies without precondition, and “reset” America’s foreign relations will justifiably be remembered as Jimmy Carter 2.0 whose nice words and good intentions were rendered utterly meaningless by his repeated failure to act when American action could have made a difference. Libyans, Egyptians, Iraqis, Afghanis, Israelis, and Ukrainians longing for freedom must wonder what has become of the shining city on the hill.
If it shines no longer, who will light the way?