Friday, 16 September 2011

Obama: "If You Love Me, You Got to Help Me Pass This Bill"

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President Obama declared to an impassioned crowd of students at North Carolina State University Wednesday, "If you love me, you got to help me pass this bill!" In an auditorium holding more than 9,000 people, the President rehashed the supposed economic benefits of his new $447 billion American Jobs Act, as he pleaded with the audience to help him win congressional support. But do the merits of the President’s latest legislative attempt at reviving the U.S. economy have any relation to the American citizenry’s emotional feelings for their country’s political "leadership?"

Using a copy of the bill as a stage prop, Obama ordered students: "For those of you who did skip class today, I’ve got a homework assignment for you.... Tell your Congressperson that the time for partisanship and politics is over.... The time for action is now.... Yes, we can," Obama clamored, evoking loud cheers from the crowd.

The President catered his dialogue to North Carolina’s wavering economic condition — which has an unemployment rate of 10 percent — as he touted an unfounded notion that his new plan would generate tens of thousands of jobs for the state, while putting more money into the pockets of business owners and middle-class families. "Pass this bill and right here in North Carolina about 19,000 construction workers will have a job again," he pledged. "Pass this jobs bill and there will be funding to save the jobs of up to 13,000 North Carolina teachers, cops, and firefighters."

In an attempt to exercise his youthful gift of charisma, Obama rattled off a series of technology-driven methods for students to use to make their voices heard. "You can call, you can email, you can tweet, you can fax. You can Facebook, you can visit, you can write a letter — when was the last time you did that?" The President then bulleted key points in the bill that he claimed will help America "get back to a place where we’re creating good, middle-class jobs again — jobs that pay well; jobs that offer some security; jobs that are available for all the young people who are going to be graduating from N.C. State."

Obama slammed congressional Republicans who renounced the bill because they fear that they would be handing the President "a win" by passing it. "I get fed up with that kind of game-playing. And we've been seeing it for too long," he said. "We’re in a national emergency. We’ve had — we’ve been grappling with a crisis for three years, and instead of getting folks to rise up above partisanship in a spirit that says we’re all in this together, you got folks who are purposely dividing — purposely — thinking just in terms of how does this play out in terms of this election?"

But why must opposition always be politically motivated? Could opposition stem from the bill’s merits — or lack thereof — and its intent for central planners to funnel more money into government-favored projects, rather than leaving money with private hands, where real jobs are produced? The question is more a matter of who decides to allocate resources to the economy, or more simply, who creates jobs, the market or the government? These aren’t issues of political banter, but of contrasting ideologies of how economies effectively function.

This also leads to the "emotion" which the President strives to play on. The U.S. government, and how it functions, is not a benefactor of the American people’s love for it, and surely it is not based on a cult of personality that means supporting or doing whatever its leader desires. That is reserved for totalitarian political systems. Historically, the U.S. government has recognized that all people, including political leaders, are flawed. As Thomas Jefferson cautioned in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, "In question of powers … let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." Of course, this brings to question not just the motives of the leader, but also the citizenry — that is, should the American people support legislation on a baseless emotion, or the social or economic bearing of its fruit?

"I love you, Barack!" shouted a voice from the North Carolina audience. "I love you back," the President responded. "But first — if you love me — if you love me, you got to help me pass this bill. If you love me, you got to help me pass this bill." Of course, this is not the first time Obama has expressed love to a crowd of strangers. And this is not the first time he has belted the rally cry, "Yes, we can!" Flashbacks from 2008 ought to be in full swing, as President Obama attempts to champion legislative support by resorting to the cult of personality — claiming that, to love him, we must implement his political agenda.

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Photo: President Barack Obama points to the crowd following his speech at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., Sept. 14, 2011, where he spoke about the American Jobs Act.: AP Images