"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

11.05.2008

signs & wonders

Mercy me, I nearly fainted at all the angry rhetoric from some of my Facebook friends and acquaintances last night. Obama gets elected and all of the sudden we're facing imminent threats of a planned economy, gay abortionists, the second coming of Christ, and half our school teachers moving to the conservative hotbed that is Canada. You'd think it was the end of the world.

Being as we here at Texas in Africa are very interested in providing a public service whenever possible, now seems as good a time as any to launch a project we've been thinking about for awhile now: The Texas in Africa Apocalypse Watch 2008/09. That way, whenever you see a sign that the Obama administration is about to push America over the edge, you can report it here. We'll keep a log of all the plagues of frogs and locusts, rivers of blood, and changes in the color of the moon that are apparently inevitable, so keep 'em coming!

Seriously. I joke, but some of my friends really do believe this kind of rhetoric. And while I certainly believe that there are legitimate reasons to disagree with many of Barack Obama's policy positions, cavalierly throwing around terms like "socialist" and "antichrist" represents a fundamental failure to understand the meaning of those words or the way the American political system operates.

The record will show that I've already gotten on my soapbox a time or two about how bad the theology underlying the Left Behind fiction series is, so I'm not even going to dignify the antichrist nonsense with a response. Besides, according to what Dawson McAlister told us at a conference at Shades Mountain circa 1993, the antichrist will be Russian. ('Cause that's in the Bible, right next to where it says that puppy dogs go to heaven.)

As for "socialism," look. A taxpayer-funded bailout of corporations is not socialism, nor is a proposal to give tax cuts and credits to the middle class and working poor while raising the tax rate on the wealthy. It isn't a "redistribution of wealth" anymore than any other kind of government spending that doesn't benefit everyone in our society is. Socialism occurs when a country institutes a planned economy, puts tight controls on market prices for goods and services, and often uses force to accomplish those ends.

Nobody in the Obama administration will advocate collectivized farming.

Second, those who do and don't like Obama's policies both need to remember that presidents fail to secure their major legislative agendas about 80% of the time. Even in one-party government (which I agree is dangerous and almost always leads to corruption), presidents still have to contend with 535 outsized egos in order to get anything done.

"Ambition must be made to counteract ambition," wrote James Madison in Federalist 51. He designed a brilliant system that does just that. It sets up 537 people who are used to getting their way against one another, and forces them to compromise on policies that are best for the most Americans. That means, among other things, that no president, no matter how popular, can do everything he or she wants or promises to do in four or eight years. Remember Bush's bit plans for privatization of Social Security and immigration reform? How about Hillarycare, or Reagan's plan to cut spending that resulted in a huge deficit? Even if Barack Obama wanted to do all the crazy things his critics accuse him of (And, to be 100% clear, he doesn't want to do those things. Stop relying on unsubstantiated rumors and look at the facts), our political system won't allow it to happen.

I'm pretty sure that the fate of the republic is secure. Most of Obama's job will be cleaning up the mess the Bush administration made by restoring the powers of the presidency and vice-presidency to their constitutional limits, rebuilding America's relationships with our historic allies, and figuring out what to do in Iraq. But let us know if you see something funny, m'kay?

10 Comments:

Blogger UPennBen said...

You do realize that there will be a puppy in the White House? I wouldn't be surprised what other signs of the apocalypse there might be.

But seriously, do you think he'll be able to pass much (not all) of his tax plan? If there's anything at all that he campaigned on, it was to fix the economy and legislators must know that. There will be fewer compromises with a Democratic Congress, but Obama seems the type of guy who will know how to wheel and deal with them. I would guess that's one of his top priorities, and I highly doubt he'll try to shove it down anyone's throats. But I might be wrong.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 3:09:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Rahm Emmanuel will shove the tax plan down their throats, you're right. But a lot of the rumors flying about the tax plan (huge tax on small businesses, welfare queens getting money from rich people) just aren't supported by the facts, and sure won't make it through Congress. They know they have to run a center-left government to stay viable for 2012.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 3:56:00 PM

 
Blogger Michael said...

I'm with ya. Jesus isn't coming back just because Obama was elected. The country is not crumbling from within. And honestly, as a conservative, I'm glad to see the current Republican trash out of office.

And FYI, the quote from Federalist 51 is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 4:14:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

I'm kindof partial to "justice is the end of government" myself. Yay for being politics geeks!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 4:25:00 PM

 
Blogger haitianministries said...

For the sake of argument, let's assume that Obama's election really will usher in the Second Coming of Christ. Isn't that a good thing? Shouldn't that be cause for rejoicing and celebration rather than fear-mongering? Or has the "Left Behind" wing of the GOP, like the virgins in Jesus' parable, been locked out of the wedding because they didn't bother to prepare themselves for the arrival of the bridegroom ahead of time.

BTW, Dawson McAlister is wrong about the antichrist. I was taught that it will be Anwar Sadat. No matter that he's been dead for three decades. If it's in the Bible, that's good enough for me :-)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 5:23:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

I think Dawson McAlister was wrong about quite a few things. :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 7:00:00 PM

 
Blogger David McCullars said...

Excellent post, TiA!

And when it comes to economics, hopefully we can all learn a lesson from this recent debacle ... Capitalism (and especially pure Laissez-faire Capitalism) is as imperfect as any other economic system. Is it possible that we can get over this Cold War tunnel vision and realize there are a few decent ideas to be found (and dare I suggest tried) in other economic models?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 9:48:00 PM

 
Blogger Ann said...

um. puppies do go to heaven.

i should know.

i'm a reverend.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 10:35:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Right. It's just there, in chapter 17 of Zepphaniah.

Thursday, November 06, 2008 10:50:00 AM

 
Blogger MamasBoy said...

It always boggles my mind when people talk about moving to another country because of who won the presidency. The hysterics were especially bad when Bush Jr. won a second term, but hysteria and irrationality are not owned by any one political party. As far as I'm concerned, they can stay there and rot.

Regarding socialism, I think you are mistaken about the definition of socialism. I reproduce here a quote from Friedrich Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom." Hayek won the Nobel Prize in economics, so he is no shirk when it comes to economic theories. In other words, I trust his definition of socialism over yours.

"The most important qualification I must add is that during the interval of time terminology has changed and for this reason what I say in the book may be misunderstood. At the time I wrote, socialism meant unambiguously the nationalization of the means of production and the central economic planning which this made possible and necessary. In this sense Sweden, for instance, is today very much less socialistically organized than Great Britain or Austria, though Sweden is commonly regarded as much more socialistic. This is due to the fact that socialism has come to mean chiefly the extensive redistribution of incomes through taxation and the institutions of the welfare state. In the latter kind of socialism the effects I discuss in this book are brought out more slowly, indirectly and imperfectly. I believe that the ultimate outcome tends to be very much the same, although the process by which it is brought about is not quite the same as that described in this book.”

To the extent that Obama wants to move the US toward a stronger welfare state, he is indeed moving us more toward socialism.

MB

Monday, November 10, 2008 2:53:00 AM

 

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