November 13 2012
What Happens When Voters Fall in Love?
One of the things I’ve worried about and blogged about several times is the cult of personality, something that until President Obama came along we had not seen much of in the United States.
Commentary senior editor Abe Greenwald addresses this troubling matter on the magazine’s blog in a post entitled “Democrats Better Start Soul Searching:”
Barack Obama ushered in America’s first large-scale experiment in personality-cult politics. The experiment continues apace. Obama got reelected because he enjoys a degree of personal popularity disconnected from his record. No modern president has ever been returned to office with employment figures and right-track-wrong-track numbers as poor as those Obama has achieved. …
The president’s reelection is not evidence of a new liberal America, but rather of the illogical and confused experience that is infatuation.
Greenwald writes that when “the personality at the center of the cult” leaves the stage, Democrats will be stuck with the abysmal results of his policies. Since the president will likely continue on his disastrous path in a second term, the country could be in enormous trouble.
It is in the nature of personality cults to fail at most things beyond generating and disseminating propaganda. This inability is the result of two things. First, the personality’s popularity is not results-driven. Since adoration hasn’t been earned by achievement but by the advent of charisma, why kill yourself trying to get results. Second, few people are willing to candidly critique the personality at the center of the cult, so there is little chance of course correction. None of this bodes well for Barack Obama. And for the country’s sake, let’s hope it’s wrong.
To effect a revolution in American politics, you have to set parameters that successors will be compelled to heed. FDR implemented programs that at least produced identifiable results before revealing their unsustainable flaws. Bill Clinton had no problem declaring the age of big government over because Ronald Reagan had ushered in a prosperous era in which this was so.
What part of the Obama agenda will resonate when isolated from the Obama phenomenon? It’s too soon to say, but not too soon wonder.
Maybe this should make those of us who regard President Obama’s policies as bad for the country feel a little better. I feel worse, however. If Greenwald’s analysis is right, we have an electorate much in need of a better grasp of democratic principles.