On President Obama’s ‘ideologism’ versus ‘pragmatism’
By Isaac Yetiv, Ph.D
LA JOLLA, California–In my previous articles, I wrote about the “structural endemic obstacles” that plague our system of government and lead to immobilism and, even, to paralysis. In this analysis I concentrate on a very disturbing flaw in our political discourse that makes the decision-making process a herculean task. I am talking about rigid ideologism as opposed to flexible pragmatism.
The dictionary defines an “ideologue” as “a dreamer pursuing an irrealizable ideal,” and a “pragmatist” as someone who “makes his decisions based on FACTS (from the Greek “pragma”= fact) and for whom the only criterion for truth is its practical value.”
The ideologue posits a proposition a priori as an act of faith and if the facts do not fit the belief, then so much the worse for the facts.
It is true that political ideologues –an oxymoron in itself because “politics is the art of the possible” and of the compromise–are found on both sides of the political spectrum, but they abound in the Left, and they overabound in the Obama administration.
The president surrounded himself with about 36 “czars” who epitomize ideologism and do not hide their well-entrenched beliefs in value systems that constantly clash with reality. What is most disturbing is that they don’t go through the system of vetting and approval by the Senate in total disregard of the constitutional “checks-and-balances.” Ideologues are also found among Obama’s appointees to cabinet positions and other functions. This is simply because Obama himself is an ideologue of the Left. Only after he got , in his words, “a shellacking” in last elections did he hesitantly attempt to “move to the center” without much success.
There is always an “ideal” to attain, sometimes virtuous and noble , but most of the time doing more harm than good . Consider the ideal of “equalization.” I read about a professor of economics who was pressured by the political authorities to “equalize” his grades. To prove that the idea-ideal , and by extension Obamanomics, was wrong, he did the following experiment: he averaged the grades of one exam and gave all students a B ; he did the same for the second exam and averaged a D ; the third exam averaged an F . He explained that the bad and lazy students did poorly as expected, and the good students had no incentives to work hard and share the fruits of their labor with the bad students. Hence the fiasco. Examples of ideologism harming more than helping abound. I will limit myself to the most damaging to common sense, to the economy, and to national security:
1) Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, recently abolished the “education vouchers program” for the sake of equalization. The result:
1,700 schoolchildren in Washington D.C. public school system, mostly minorities, lost their “privilege” of attending private schools
in a special program that had been very successful. Arne Duncan himself was the superintendent of Chicago schools ( 400,000
students; 4 billion dollars budget , i.e. $ 10,000 per pupil ) where 83 % can’t read or write at their level.
2) Obama appointed Kevin Jenning, a homosexual, as a “safe schools czar ” (!) to oversee the indoctrination of the kids in
what is, or should be, sexually permitted, which caused a fury among parents and teachers.
3) Obama appointed Cass Sunstein as ” czar of regulatory policy” (?) to issue regulations based on hardcore beliefs that are in
flagrant violation of the sacrosanct first amendment rights of free speech. Sunstein said that ” speech rights must be distributed
by government bureaucracies like wealth and entitlements.”
4) The “Soak the rich and redistribute-the-wealth” ideolgy has been pursued vigorously despite the fact (yes fact, confirmed by most
economists on the Right and the Left, ) that it harms the economy and hinders economic development, and hurts the poor more than the rich. The top 1% of earners pay 40% of the tax collected; 10% of the earners pay more than 70% of the tax; and the bottom 40%
do not pay tax at all. Who is going to invest and create jobs for the latter if we equalize and average out?
5) It is strange that Obama underwrites offshore drilling in Brazil, and even gives them money to do it, but here in the U.S., ideology triumphs. To protect the caribou and the “pristine” shores, a ban on drilling for oil is maintained, causing tens of thousands of unemployed in Louisiana after the disastrous spill and other places, and forcing us to continue the transfer of seven hundred billions to the autocrats in the Middle-East which is burning as we speak, making the flow of oil precarious and uncertain, and perpetuating our dependence. The ideal of “alternative sources of energy” is laudable, but it will take 20 years if we start now, seriously. Meantime, we have treasures of oil and gas underground and undersea, and only ideologism prevents their exploitation that could create hundreds of thousands of jobs and fill the empty coffers of the governments, state and federal.
6) It may also be a noble ideal to add 30-40 million “uninsured” to the health care program, but this means creating a new “entitlement” when the other entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Welfare etc…) are bankrupt and need restructuring and restrictions, and cost trimming, when the projected annual deficit is 1.5 trillion dollars and the national debt passed 14 trillion, and when, according to the proponents of the Healthcare law, its administration will require the addition of half-a-million bureaucrats, 153 agencies, and 16,500 IRS agents to pursue and punish those who will not buy into the program or violate any of its mandates. No wonder then why the constitutionality of the law has been legally challenged by 60% of the states.
7) Ideologism and national security: Since the advent of the Obama administration, orders have been issued to all its agents to ban from their lexicon words like “Radical Islamists, jihad or jihadist, terror or terrorism etc.” and ridiculous neologisms have been forged as euphemisms, such as “man-caused disaster” for act of terror.
Why all this masquerade? Because, as said above, Obama himself is an unrepentant ideologue who postulates that all people are good, American exceptionalism is a false belief, evil either does not exist or can be negotiated with if only we give them their “rights, ” apologize for past American misconduct, and preserve their dignity. And this, even after he was rebuffed by the Russians, the Chinese, and especially by the mullahs in Iran who rejected his offered hand for peace and his advances for an honorable dialogue.
It was reported that the Attorney General’s office hired many radical lawyers to provide assistance to terrorists. And how pathetic and patronizing was the Obama order to NASA leaders (NASA ???) “to reach out to the Muslim world, and make them feel good about Islam’s past contributions …” Or his fanfare about closing Guantanamo which he had to recant, or his attempts at trying its inmates as common criminals , not enemy combatants, in a civilian tribunal with all the constitutional protections available to U.S. citizens.
Ideologism is also the reason why a major in the army , with proven contact with Middle-East terrorists, who said “Allahu Akbar” before he killed 13 soldiers and wounded 35, has not been court-martialed and sentenced promptly, and why a high functionary of the government “worried about people damaging “diversity” –whatever this silly word means under the circumstances– when they call Major Hassan “a radical Islamist” or “a terrorist.”
It is time for the Obama administration to open its eyes to see the facts, that we are at war, to leave their ideological musings
in the locker room, and tackle the arduous problems facing the country on the basis of what is and not what ought to be.
Yetiv is a La Jolla-based freelance writer and lecturer on current affairs. He may be contacted at email@example.com
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