Obama And Philosophical Differences Between Left And Right

If viewed from the perspective of perfection, liberals have plenty of reason to object to Obama. There’s his continuation of NSA surveillance, with recommendations for reform which are a good first step but do not go far enough. He continues the disastrous drug war (or should we call it the war against minorities) and is taking far too long to end the war in Afghanistan. He did a fine job of averting the Bush depression upon taking office but his stimulus program was too little (although we must also consider the Republican opposition to this and the manner in which they blocked his other proposals). While the Affordable Care Act has had some major successes, the difficulties in implementation show the advantages of a single-payer plan favored by many on the left. Still, when looking from the perspective of a two-party system, Obama’s accomplishments on economic recovery and health care reform are significant, and there is not a single problem which would not be worse if current Republican policies were being followed. More importantly, there a major difference in world view which can be seen in two recent comments from Obama.

Today there was this statement released on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade:

Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.  We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom.  And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.  Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

This shows a fundamental difference between Obama, and most Democrats, compared to the majority of Republicans. Republicans have no respect for reproductive freedom, and the right of women to control their own bodies. If you ignore the biology, along with philosophical problems in denying self-ownership of one’s own body, their case against abortion might be somewhat understandable. As it is frequently accompanied by opposition to birth control, it becomes clearer that this is primarily a religious viewpoint which they wish to impose upon others. On a related point, they also desire to impose their religious views to prevent same-sex marriage, an issue which Obama has evolved on. (Plus many Republicans do not even accept basic science with regards to evolution).

Obama showed his views are also evolving on marijuana and the drug war. In an interview with David Remnick in The New Yorker, Obama showed consideration of the underlying issues:

When I asked Obama about another area of shifting public opinion—the legalization of marijuana—he seemed even less eager to evolve with any dispatch and get in front of the issue. “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Is it less dangerous? I asked…

Less dangerous, he said, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.” What clearly does trouble him is the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.” But, he said, “we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.” Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

As is his habit, he nimbly argued the other side. “Having said all that, those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy. And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.” He noted the slippery-slope arguments that might arise. “I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?”

Far short of ending the drug war, but this leaves open hope of a change in policy. It makes no medical sense for marijuana to be classified as a Schedule I drug, and prohibition causes far more harm than the drug. It is hard to see any leading Republicans, other than perhaps Rand Paul (who does fall short of the libertarian position), considering a change on this issue.


  1. 1
    David Duff says:

    “Obama’s accomplishments on economic recovery”!?
    And this is his final paragraph:
    “One last question: who’s holding all the immense debt that’s piled on top of this soon-to-collapse sector? The domino of retail CRE [Commercial Real Estate] will not fall in isolation; it will topple the domino of debt next to it, and that will topple the lenders who are bankrupted by the implosion of retail-CRE debt. And once that domino falls, it will take what’s left of the nation’s illusory financial stability down with it.”
    And what is the biggest, most eye-watering debt of them all, why, America’s national debt!

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    You sure do love to cherry pick your sources and information to support your political views. I’m sure that you will always find a way to deny how much better the economy has been under Obama considering both what he inherited and how much the Republicans have been trying to block recovery for political reasons.

    It is also interesting how the importance of debt varies depending upon who is in office. Under Bush, who ran up the debt, the Republican mantra was that deficits don’t matter. Under Obama they go to the other extreme in thinking of virtually nothing but the deficit, while ignoring how much the deficit has fallen under Obama.

  3. 3
    David Duff says:

    You will not find me defending Bush for his financial diligence, he spent money like a drunken sailor.  Your problem is that Obama is spending it like three drunken sailors!  Only it isn’t *real* money, it’s ‘pretend’ money printed by the Fed Reserve who might have done better just to drop it over the (so-called) poor areas of the USA from helicopters!  Sooner or later this ‘Ponzi’ scheme will hit reality and the brown stuff will hit the fan!
    The reality may well come from outside the USA.  Many of Europe’s banks are broke and this year they will be found out when new banking regulations come into effect.  Equally, the Chinese banking system is broke which is why Chinese ‘zillionaires’ are using every available exit to get their money out of the country.  When that reality crashes into America you will see the collapse of a house of credit cards!

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Obama has been far more fiscally responsible than Bush, who left Obama with both a huge deficit and unfunded programs such as the wars and the Medicare D program. Bush’s tax cuts were also structured to have their greatest impact after he left office, further dumping on his successor.

    It makes no sense to blame Obama when he has been the one trying to fix the problem he inherited, despite total lack of cooperation from the Republicans.

  5. 5
    David Duff says:

    Sometimes, no, almost always, others say it better than me:
    We are now in a situation that looks like a dead end for the paper money system. After the last cycle, governments have bailed out malinvestments in the private sector and boosted their public welfare spending. Deficits and debts skyrocketed. Central banks printed money to buy public debts (or accept them as collateral in loans to the banking system) in unprecedented amounts. Interest rates were cut close to zero. Deficits remain large. No substantial real growth is in sight. At the same time banking systems and other financial players sit on large piles of public debt. A public default would immediately trigger the bankruptcy of the banking sector. Raising interest rates to more realistic levels or selling the assets purchased by the central bank would put into jeopardy the solvency of the banking sector, highly indebted companies, and the government. It looks like even the slowing down of money printing (now called “QE tapering”) could trigger a bankruptcy spiral. A drastic reduction of government spending and deficits does not seem very likely either, given the incentives for politicians in democracies.”
    Read the whole thing:
    The American economy is like a pedal-driven helicopter, it stays up just as long as the cyclist can keep pedalling – and so long as it is not suddenly hit by gale force winds from elsewhere!  Sorry, Ron, Obama knows nothing about economics, a characteristic which he shares with most western politicians, Left or Right.  All he thinks he knows are the Leftie platitudes and banner slogans of his youth. 
    Keep pedalling!

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    On the one hand we have Obama whose economic policies have been successful considering the limitations he has faced , regardless of how much you prefer to ignore the facts on ideological grounds.

    On the other hand, we have your quotations from far right sources which have a very poor track record in the real world. These people have had the same doom and gloom predictions going back as far as I can remember into the 1960’s and probably back further than that. They are promoting a religion, not serious economic views.

    I’ll go with the pragmatic, centrist, reality-based politician over the types of ideologues you follow any day. Plus if you are concerned about deficits, you should be supporting Obama over the fiscally-irresponsible Republicans.

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