Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union (SOTU) address delivered no surprises. Like most such speeches, it had little to do with the state of the union and much to do with the state of the speech maker. In that regard, Obama strolled down the same path taken by many of his predecessors; in election years, SOTU speeches set the tone for an upcoming political campaign, in non-election years, they simply trumpet previous or forthcoming campaign rhetoric.
Where Obama’s speech diverges from those of numerous other presidents is in its championing of six years of failed policies. Like the speech itself, that holds no surprise. For in Obama’s view, the social and economic malaise still gripping the country, and the terrorist events in Europe and the Middle East are simply the costs to be rightly paid by societies in which government does not control virtually every aspect of life, from cradle to grave.
Such a belief is rooted in the elitist liberal philosophy that all people are born into victimhood; some are victims of ethnic background, others of economic conditions, human frailty or a combination thereof. That philosophy also holds that the only way a person can take charge of his or her own life and escape victimhood, is by victimizing others. Obama appears to embrace the concept of victimhood with the fervor that comes only from someone who views himself not merely as a victim, but as a champion of victims.
Ultimately, poverty is the most crushing, and most common suffering visited upon a society. It is also a suffering that government does have some latitude to address. Whereas a government-sponsored safety net for people in need is reasonable and proper, government support of people in want is not. Yet the line separating need from want is easily blurred, or in Obama’s case erased, as a means of expanding the victim base for which the need of government assistance can be “justified”.
The Obama view transcends typical bleeding heart liberal philosophy. It sees government assistance not merely as means to fulfill a need, but as a bridge to compensation for being born into victimhood.
Considering Obama’s background, such a viewpoint is entirely understandable. Psychologists can undoubtedly provide a complex analysis of the factors that served as the genesis of his victimhood philosophy. On a less lofty plain, application of logic to the details of Obama’s formative years provides insight into the development of his personal philosophy.
The son of a white mother and a black father, Obama was born in 1961. His parents were married on February 2nd, a scant six months before he was born on August 4th . Later that same month, his parents separated and ultimately divorced in 1964.By the time Obama was old enough to understand the meaning and significance of “mother” and “father”, his father was already long gone and his mother had remarried. Also unsettling was being uprooted and moved to a different country; when he was six years old, his mother and stepfather moved from Hawaii to Indonesia.
In 1971, he returned to Hawaii, lived with his mother for three years, and then was pawned off on his maternal grandparents; his mother had decided to return to Indonesia, where she largely remained for the next 20 years. During that same time period, his father remarried and in 1982, while driving drunk, died after hitting a tree.
By the time of his father’s death, Obama’s own victimhood was in full bloom. He had clearly rejected the white half of his heritage, choosing to identify solely with his black heritage. According to a Los Angeles Times article, in his book, “Dreams from My Father,” Obama references the first stirrings of anger towards whites as having arisen during the years prior to his graduation from high school in Hawaii.In addition to dealing with his racial issues, Obama also had to confront parental rejection. His father all but abandoned him before he was a year old, and his mother effectively abandoned him when she returned to Indonesia and left him with his grandparents—grandparents he later characterized as plain old “white folk”. He also said of his grandmother, (in reference to a comment she had made) “The point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person…” (US News and World Report).Rather than being grateful for the efforts of his grandparents to provide him with a quality education, Obama must view their efforts as simply an extension of his victimhood; he was victimized by owing a debt of gratitude to two people who are of the race that stirs his anger.
Considering Obama’s victimhood perspective, combined with the psychological scarring he obviously sustained in his youth, his actions are both expected and predictable. In simple terms, he sees anyone who has achieved financial security as a victimizer who has achieved success on the backs of victims. In a July 13, 2012 campaign speech, Obama claimed, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
At first blush, the statement appears to be just an analogy for “victimizers succeeding on the backs of victims.” It’s more than that. Obama supporters claim that critics have taken those two oft-referenced sentences out of context. In that, they’re correct. Obama’s context was that government-funded education, infrastructure and research, serves as the major, if not sole reason businesses succeed.
In fact, the speech was a two-pronged attack on owners of successful businesses, who are victimizers in Obama’s view. The “somebody else” who built a business refers to the workers who were victimized by business owners. Secondly, the successful business owners victimized the government by not paying their “fair share” of taxes, yet utilized government-funded services.
Whether select sentences are taken in or out of context, the speech serves as a capsulation of Obama’s view. All people are born into victimhood and those who achieve financial success have done so by victimizing others and taking advantage of government. Such a philosophy leads to another tenet of Obama’s view of the world, government as Robin Hood— it is the role of government to take from victimizers and give to victims.
That is best exemplified by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA itself is about income redistribution; health care is simply the mechanism. It’s difficult to conceive of a more inefficient, cumbersome and expensive means of reforming health insurance than the voluminous Affordable Care Act. Conversely, the ACA is reasonably effective at using taxes and fees paid by those who can afford health insurance to subsidize part or all of the premiums of those who can’t. Or won’t.Other examples of rob from victimizers and give to victims abound. Although Obama pulled his proposal to tax 529 college savings plans, his proposed 2016 budget is rife with tax increases squarely aimed at “victimizers”. These include, restricting top earners to taking tax deductions at the 28 percent rate, even if their income is taxed at the top 39.6 percent rate; increasing capital gains rates — to 28 percent, from the current 24.2 percent; a 14 percent, one-time tax on previously untaxed foreign income; a 19 percent minimum tax on foreign income and a fraction-of-a-percent fee on the 100 financial firms with assets of over $50 billion. In total, 20 new tax increases were contained in Obama’s 2016 budget proposal. Cuts in entitlement programs were nowhere to be seen.
And although Obama is pitching his tax increases as being targeted at the ultra-wealthy, his budget’s $474 billion deficit translates to an increase in the national debt– and ultimately higher taxes across the board.
Obama’s victim/victimizer view extends well beyond the realm of economics. Whether he is in fact a Christian or a Muslim is only partially relevant to his actions, or lack thereof in response to terrorist atrocities; viewed through the lens of victimhood, Muslims are ultra-victims. The general population of virtually every country in which Islam predominates is mired in poverty and plagued by internal strife. Even in oil-rich middle-eastern countries, the majority of people are victims. Power and money is typically in the hands of a cabal of victimizers- sheiks, monarchs or dictators.When Obama does take a stand that is more aggressive than drawing imaginary lines in the sand, his focus is on members of the ruling cabal. Yet when poor “extremists” gun down innocent civilians, set off bombs or murder U.S. citizens and drag their bodies through the streets, Obama is either silent, or dismissive of the atrocities being the work of Muslims.
He is also dismissive of Muslim and Arab attacks against Israel, for if ever there was a victimizer in the Middle East, in Obama’s view, it’s Israel. Surrounded by a literal and figurative desert, Israel is an oasis of economic and social success. It has prospered in the same physical environment that has bred poverty and civil turmoil in its neighboring Islamic countries. Surely, in Obama’s view, Israel has succeeded at the expense of its Muslim neighbors.
Unfortunately, Obama’s victim/victimizer view of life is but a single component of a sociopathic personality that has trivialized the role of the United States on the world stage. In that regard, Obama has ironically made himself both a victimizer and a victim.