Pella Chronicle

Z_CNHI News Service

May 16, 2014

Obama maneuver to silence debate finds followers

Editor's note: CNHI newspapers that are not weekly subscribers to Taylor Armerding's column may publish this one if they notify him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

Travel with me back in time to those good old days when it was so very cool and correct to declare: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

Remember that? It was a mantra, a slogan, a moral crusade for all conscientious liberals when George W. Bush was president.

If you do remember, you probably also recall the exact day it stopped being cool and correct: Jan. 21, 2009, when Bush became a former president and President Barack Obama was inaugurated. Dissent suddenly became tantamount to sedition.

Yeah, Obama promised the “fundamental transformation” of America. History will judge more objectively than any current analysis whether his encouragement of a vast expansion of dependency on government entitlements; a sluggish economy; an uncertain, weak foreign policy; and blatant disrespect for laws he found inconvenient were all the fault of “the rich” or a Republican “war on women.”

But we don’t need to wait for history to judge the suppression of dissent, by mockery and the weight of government itself, to be very, very bad for the country.

Obama’s acolytes had it right back in 2000-2008: Dissent is patriotic. They were rarely patriotic in their attitude;  their hatred of Bush was so intense that it degenerated into mindless slogans and personal attacks. “Bush Derangement Syndrome” was not an exaggeration for millions of lefties.

But they are (were) correct that dissent from the agenda of those in power is one of the healthy characteristics of a free society.

If Bush called a press conference to declare that “the debate is over” regarding some unpopular program of his, there would have been a meltdown on the Left from sea to shining sea. This, they would have said, is proof from the president’s own mouth that he is a fascist.

Yet, that is this president's direction, and his disgraceful example is spreading.

A few weeks ago, Obama took to his teleprompter to declare the “debate” on Obamacare, his signature legislation, is over since 8 million people have reportedly signed up for it.

Yes, one recent poll found that a majority of Americans want to keep the law in place, but that same poll found only 12 percent consider it a success. Since when does a president get to say that a minority of Americans have to shut up?

Ask the administration for details on those 8 million people, and suddenly, not only is the debate over, but so is any transparency. (Remember, this was going to be the “most transparent administration in history.")

The administration won’t say how many of those people have started making their payments. It won’t say how many previously had insurance but lost it since their plan didn’t conform to new Obamacare rules. In other words, they won’t say how many truly “uninsured” now have insurance.

Do Obama or any of his supporters define success by 8 million people allegedly complying with an order of the federal government when they will be punished if they fail to obey it?

Yet the president tells us the debate is over. He must really dislike democracy.

The same attitude is at play regarding global warming, which has been renamed climate change and more recently “climate disruption.” One obvious way to tell that those on one side of an argument are losing is that they keep changing the euphemisms to cloak what they really mean.

The president and his loyal cohorts insist “the science is settled.” One acolyte said continuing to debate the issue would be like taking an opinion poll on whether 15 is more than 5. Cute. But, as any credible scientist knows, science is never settled.

This president mocks as “deniers” those who question his thinking. What was that about being president of “all the people”? Never mind.

This attitude, not surprisingly, infects all of society. Anyone who publicly questions the gay agenda or gay marriage does not get a reasoned response from the other side, but demands that he or she be silenced.

Twin brothers David and Jason Benham, scheduled to launch an HGTV show on renovating and flipping houses, saw the show canceled because they disagree with gay marriage. Apparently, you can’t be allowed to show people how to renovate houses if you hold politically incorrect views on marriage.

Good thing Obama “evolved” on the issue since his public position on gay marriage was the same allegedly hateful one as the Benhams' until two years ago.

Meanwhile, students at major colleges and universities are doing exactly as they have been taught by their president and allegedly liberal-minded professors. They have successfully banned commencement speakers whose views they don’t like.

The list includes not only conservatives like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (her crime was being part of the Bush administration), but also Somali-born feminist Ayaan Hirsi, who has sought to inform the world of the way radical Islamists mistreat women. Challenging radical Islam somehow violates the “core values” of Brandeis University.

In short, they don’t want to debate people they oppose, which is what a free society should be all about. They want to silence them.

That is neither progressive nor liberal. That is totalitarian.

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net

 

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