A Faith-Based Secular Socialist Machine?
Speaking before a gathering of Republicans, Newt Gingrich declared yesterday that President Obama is running “a perfect, unrepresentative left wing machine dedicated to a secular, socialist future”. If you’ve been getting your news from Tea Party Nation, that may sound like an on-target criticism of the President. If you’ve been reading us here at Irregular Times since Barack Obama entered the White House, you know Newt Gingrich’s statement is absurd.
I won’t bother to argue against the accusation that Barack Obama is trying to steer the USA into a socialist future, because it’s an accusation that’s so vague as to be almost impossible to refute. Republicans like Newt Gingrich, when they use the word socialist, are trying to excite anxiety that the United States will soon be a full-fledged Communist totalitarian state like the Soviet Union. Yet, the programs they attack as socialist are ones that most Americans are happy to have around, such as Social Security. If the word “socialist” can be used to describe both Soviet forced labor camps and Social Security, then it can be used to describe practically anything government does. It’s a nonsense term.
I can address Gingrich’s “left wing” accusation, though. We here at Irregular Times can fairly be described as left wing. We’re not members of Earth First or the Socialist Party USA, but we do focus on ideas that most people would call liberal. We know the left wing. The left wing is a friend of ours. Barack Obama is no member of the left wing.
Go on over to our article category “Barack Obama” (It’s over in the left hand side bar on this page) and sort through our articles there. Going back to well before Barack Obama was elected, we offer him some praise when it’s due, but mostly we criticize him for betraying the trust of his overwhelmingly liberal base of political support. The activists who enabled Barack Obama to win the 2008 Democratic Party primary were liberal, but Barack Obama himself is not.
Obama has supported a huge range of policies that the Bush Republicans loved. Among them are: Unlimited presidential authority to detain prisoners and withhold evidence from the courts, unreformed Patriot Act spying, an unreformed FISA Amendments Act, government subsidies for coal, record military spending and expanded offshore drilling.
Another anti-liberal policy Obama has continued from George W. Bush is the violation of the separation of Church and State, using the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. The Obama White House uses this office to funnel money from the federal government’s budget to organizations with explicitly religious missions, and allowing those religious organizations to use federal money to discriminate against employees on the basis of religious belief.
In fact, Barack Obama has expanded the size of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives to make it far bigger than it was under George W. Bush. Obama announced that it was his plan to do so way back in 2008, but he placated his liberal supporters by promising that he would reform the office to make it less corrupt and to ensure that the funds it sent out would not be used to support religious discrimination in hiring. That’s a promise that Barack Obama has not kept.
From the Obama White House, there have been only two announcements about the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives: One announcing that the office would get a new name and expanded mission, and another announcing the President’s hand-selected religious leaders to appoint to an advisory committee to steer the council. Barack Obama seems to have abandoned the idea of reform.
President Obama recently met with Christian leaders in order to have an official White House celebration of the holiday, and many of Obama’s officially appointed government religious officials were there. It’s been one of many specifically Christian celebrations at the White House. Yet, not once has Obama met with a group of atheist leaders, or secular humanist leaders, or leaders of any other organizations of non-religious Americans. Those leaders have been methodically excluded from access to the White House.
President Obama has a political machine, to be sure – all political leaders do. However, it’s not a left-wing machine, and it’s not working to create a secular future. Instead, Obama’s machine is working to promote much the same agenda as George W. Bush’s machine did, only with a few adjustments. It’s a a center-right machine, a corporate machine, and a Christian machine.