February 13th, 2008

The Fallacy of Misplaced Hope


photo credit: a35mmlife

Barack Obama has been seen of late as an eloquent speaker, passionate politician, and a uniter. To be sure, his speeches are inspiring and motivational—one comes away from hearing him speak with an upbeat attitude and optimistic outlook on life and politics.

However, those who become enamored with Obama are often those who fall victim of the fallacy of misplaced hope.

Hope is a wonderful virtue when the object of its attention is true and proper. However, when one’s hope revolves around falsehoods, inefficiency, and immorality, it is misplaced and thus ineffective.

It is in this latter scenario that hope becomes a diversionary tool, leading the recipient to focus more on their feelings than on axioms and logic. While a proper pursuit of truth relies upon both methods of inquiry, those who become enthralled with political feel-goodery often cast aside any attempt to scrutinize principles, details, and historical analysis.

Ask the average Obama supporter, for example, what exactly his platform entails. They’ll repeat his common mantras of change, hope, unity, and equality. But what does that mean? I have met very few Obama supporters that can name specifics and defend the underlying principles of each proposed action.

Why is this? I believe it is because on the campaign trail, Senator Obama focuses more on fluff than features. He capitalizes on his way with words, pumping the political rhetoric so full of misplaced virtue that his supporters become whipped up in a frenzy and fail to investigate the issues.

Were they to do so, they might see a full-blown statist in their midst. Wrapped up in the banner of hope and unity is one seeking to expand the size of government drastically, promising programs and initiatives that would almost always require more bureaucracy, more centralized control, and more reduction of liberty.

This misplaced (and misinformed) hope is akin to a doctor telling his patient that he has cancer, giving him a lollipop and a smile, and telling him that it’ll all be okay. While it may be difficult to hear, the patient would much rather be informed about specific options on what can and should be done to remedy the festering problem. Beating around the bush and feeding him with fluff will not solve the problem.

Unless it is grounded upon true principles, hope is misplaced. Unless it is supported with logic and reason, it is misinformed.

In saying all of this, I mean no disrespect to Senator Obama nor to those who have been passionately invigorated by his loquacious speeches. I’m sure that Mr. Obama truly believes that the values he promotes are ones that will better America as a whole. My problem lies with those who falsely place their hope in individuals based on their character and words, rather than their fruits.

Hope will naturally come as a byproduct to actions and pursuits that are grounded upon true and established principles. Any person who falsely generates a contrived sense of hope without providing the necessary underlying foundation of established principles will quickly see that illusory hope dwindle and be exposed for the fallacy that it was.

58 Responses to “The Fallacy of Misplaced Hope”

  1. Dan
    February 13, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    Hope comes from real fruit, Connor.

  2. Connor
    February 13, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    Real fruit != good fruit.

    This goes back to the point in my political effectiveness post: simply getting things done does not mean that one is doing the right things. You obviously disagree, but I argue that based on Constitutional principles, Obama’s fruit is often pretty sour.

  3. Jasonthe
    February 13, 2008 at 3:18 pm #

    What “fruits” is the energized movement behind Obama causing your worry?

    And what alternative would you suggest for the record number of voters the Democratic primaries have drawn to the polling stations?

    Are you implying there a problem with an engaged electorate? Or are you perhaps acting the concern-troll because the Ron Paul campaign petered out?

    I think the argument you are attempting to make is a valid one, and one that each of us should engage in. The problem is you aren’t making it well. You instead come across as simply trying to take the wind from Obama supporters sails without justified example as to why those supporters should be wary.

    And devil’s advocate here, even if you did present this argument better, it would apply to Obama, Clinton, McCain, and even (gasp!) Ron Paul supporters. What are they all to do, stay home because it’s too risky to vote?

    The only “false hope” that might be enacted in this election is if we keep things the way they have been for the past 8 years, or hand Bush a 3rd term via McCain out of irrational fear and subjecting ourselves to weak principles.

  4. Connor
    February 13, 2008 at 3:26 pm #

    What “fruits” is the energized movement behind Obama causing your worry?

    As stated in the post, the fruits (or rather, the lack thereof) I am worried about are the masses of “record number of voters” who cannot even name specific policies of their preferred candidate’s platform, much less articulate the principle upon which they are established.

    Or are you perhaps acting the concern-troll because the Ron Paul campaign petered out?

    My intentions with this post are unimportant. The issue stands on its own, regardless of my thoughts and reasoning. But to satisfy your curiosity, this has nothing to do with Ron Paul’s progress.

    The problem is you aren’t making it well. You instead come across as simply trying to take the wind from Obama supporters sails without justified example as to why those supporters should be wary.

    My intent is not to take the wind out of their sails, but to point out the nature of the wind itself.

    What are they all to do, stay home because it’s too risky to vote?

    I have elsewhere stated my thoughts on why people should vote. It has everything to do with principle, and the Lord’s admonition in D&C 98:10 to support good, honest, and wise men.

  5. Dan
    February 13, 2008 at 5:00 pm #

    Connor,

    Huh, reducing global poverty. You have whacked ideas about what “good fruit” is if you think that’s an example of “bad fruit.”

    Thanks for sharing, though, another example as to why Obama is the best candidate out there.

  6. Connor
    February 13, 2008 at 5:54 pm #

    You have whacked ideas about what “good fruit” is if you think that’s an example of “bad fruit.”

    Case in point. Here we have somebody so in favor of something (ending global poverty) that they fail to analyze the underlying principle and explain where government derives the authority to act in this regard.

    Reducing global poverty is an excellent idea and a commendable endeavor. Doing so by forcing people to comply and give up their money is the wrong way to go about it. Forced charity is a paradox.

  7. Dan
    February 13, 2008 at 6:09 pm #

    Connor,

    But it isn’t “forced charity.” People elect their representatives knowing what they are getting out of them, and if they don’t feel those representatives are representing them properly, the people can, of their own free will and choice, elect representatives that choose differently. Sorry, Connor, but there is no “forced charity” in a republic, in a democracy, in a representative republic, or anything that has people choosing other people to represent them. At heart, voters choose what kind of policy they want. And frankly speaking, I prefer to give of my taxes to help other people. That’s my choice. It is not forced.

  8. Connor
    February 13, 2008 at 6:37 pm #

    Dan,

    1. Your example is laughable. Government itself is force, as President Washington noted. By its very nature, government is compulsory. It matters not what type of government is in place, and whether it be administered by representation or not. It is still force.

    If you wish to help other people, that is your prerogative. But the problem with administering charity through government is that you are voting to likewise tax others who may disagree and wish to use their money in another fashion. Thus, you are compelling them to do that which they do not desire, and using a middleman (government) to enforce one’s bidding:

    Even though it be true that all men share the same moral code with respect to human freedom, history demonstrates that they have a strong disposition to do through government that which would violate that code if done outside its framework. They seem to divorce their ethical from their political principles and become oblivious to the moral consequences of the laws they favor. (H. Verlan Andersen, via Quoty)

    Those moral consequences Andersen refers to are the things completely disregarded by those Obama supporters, such as yourself, that would seek to involve government in every aspect of life, regardless of whether or not the action is Constitutional.

    2. What happened to this decision? :)

  9. Sam
    February 13, 2008 at 6:51 pm #

    Solid policies aren’t the norm at this stage of any election, though – you’d be hard-pressed to get any specifics out of McCain supporters either other than “stay the course.” Each candidate for each party has essentially the same policies. We’ll see candidates get down to specifics once the nominees are settled.

  10. Scott
    February 13, 2008 at 8:01 pm #

    McCain’s policies are quite apparent to everyone. He has a long track record. I don’t like many of his policies or the way he acts, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to conjure up an image of what he would be like as Chief Executive. Again, it’s not a picture that provides much comfort.

    Clinton is more transparent than Obama, but less so than McCain. Although she has been in the public eye for a long time, she has a short track record on actual performance. You can still get somewhat of a picture of what she would be like as President.

    Obama is an enigma. Few of his independent and moderate supporters understand that he was ranked as the most liberal senator of 2007. It’s bizarre that people buy his soaring bi-partisan rhetoric. The most liberal senator is going to “reach across the aisle” to solve problems. Ummm…, not unless it’s to reach across and slap people on the other side of that aisle. It is because Obama’s record is so little known that people can look at a charismatic guy and conjure up a favorable image in their own minds.

    But for those that have looked closely at these three contenders for the nation’s top office, none of the pictures of our next president give any warm fuzzies.

  11. Allie
    February 13, 2008 at 9:05 pm #

    Sadly I think most voters go to the polls without doing any homework, and they vote for the party (or in the case of Mitt Romney, religion) instead of for the person that they believe will do the best job.

  12. Daniel
    February 13, 2008 at 9:47 pm #

    It is in this latter scenario that hope becomes a diversionary tool, leading the recipient to focus more on their feelings than on axioms and logic.

    I realised that a Latter-day Saint wrote this, and I once again mourned the death of satire.

  13. Smith
    February 13, 2008 at 9:47 pm #

    Oh come on! He’s going to bring change to Washington… I’ve talked to a lot of Obama supporters and very few can tell me what that actually means. I know more about him than they do and I couldn’t disagree with him more. To fill you in he voted against increasing punishments against gang members, voted against a bill in the Illinois Legislature that would make define a living breathing baby as actually being alive…I don’t know about you but even though they tried to abort it and failed, if it’s born it’s ALIVE!!! Even Sen. Barbara Boxer believes that.
    If you want to live under a pseudo-communist state go ahead and vote for Obama. I am not saying Hillary or McCain are much better. Personally I’d rather vote for an alien that will enslave our whole race and make us build a giant death ray at a planet we’ve never hear at. All Hail President Obama, oops I mean Kang!

  14. Connor
    February 13, 2008 at 9:58 pm #

    I realised that a Latter-day Saint wrote this, and I once again mourned the death of satire.

    Your assumption presumes that one cannot have faith in the divine without simultaneously basing such belief on axioms and logic. This assumption is incorrect.

  15. Daniel
    February 14, 2008 at 12:05 am #

    Since you responded: Of course you can do both faith and reason, just not both at once. Your religious faith is internally consistent based on the axioms you have accepted, but it doesn’t match the external world or sound principles of reasoning. And LDS testimonies are based on feelings. I just thought it supremely ironic that you would complain when Obama fans do it.

    Back on topic: I noticed as far back as Reagan that Americans don’t pick the president based on what he’ll do or what he’s done. It seems to me that we look to a president to make us feel good about being American, and to reflect what we want and who we want to be. Almost like the president is a totem for our national identity. Has anyone else noticed this?

    So Obama (and Clinton in ’92) came to represent hope. Reagan was cheerful optimism. Bush (W) — I can’t imagine what his draw was. What were you people thinking?

  16. Connor
    February 14, 2008 at 8:52 am #

    Of course you can do both faith and reason, just not both at once.

    Speak for yourself, Daniel. Others, like myself, disagree wholeheartedly. Please don’t presume to know the basis and scope of my faith, or anybody’s for that matter.

    Almost like the president is a totem for our national identity. Has anyone else noticed this?

    I would agree, in that our elected representatives are but a reflection of the will of the majority who elected them. If the people are immoral, they will likewise elect an immoral leader. If they crave socialism, they will elect a leader that promises them a piece of the pie.

  17. Steve
    February 14, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    This cracked me up. I have watched a half-dozen Obama speeches and this about sums him up. There is no substance to him. Or perhaps, he doesn’t want to share what he really plans to do as then people won’t vote for him.

    After all, who isn’t for hope and the future?

    take a listen…
    http://mfile.akamai.com/5020/wma/rushlimb.download.akamai.com/5020/New/obamaspot.asx

  18. Doug Bayless
    February 14, 2008 at 2:44 pm #

    Connor,

    Interesting post. I have almost finished reading all the links you provided. I found I actually disagreed with many of them – clear, documentable, contradictory evidence, or – at the very least – a different frame of reference that I’ve got. But two of those stories made me pause: the one on “age-appropriate sex education for kindergarteners” (I mean I get the concern about educating and protecting children from ‘inappropriate touching’ . . . but it’s simply a bridge much too far for me to believe that foisting that off on the education system provides the best [or even a ‘good’ solution]) and the fairly well documented article on the many ‘weasel words’ of Obama’s foreign policy stances (thank you especially for that link! . . . of this I was partially aware, and with my personal obsession with foreign policy Obama stances like those were the deal breakers for me about the same time I discovered there was actually a Republican willing to break with the Bush doctrine).

    That said, however, this “Ron-Paul-Republican” is still considering throwing my full support behind Obama. I’m likely to put up an Obama sign next to my Paul sign.

    Here’s my reasoning:

    1) Paul has pretty much admitted that he is finishing up what has become a successful “message candidate” campaign now that a brokered convention is out for certain. I’m praying he retains his seat in Congress where he can still do the most good (imho).

    2) You could write a hit piece like this about any of the leading candidates. I don’t think we’ve even begun to see the serious critiques of McCain. But at the end of the day, Obama [imho] has a package deal that will do more good than harm.

    3) As suggested by Alma 31:5 preaching of “words” can be more powerful “than the sword”. Granted, that verse is specifically talking about “the virtue of the word of God” but I find much of Obama’s supposedly non-substantive preaching to be in perfect harmony with God’s admonitions. I find some of the Obama speeches and proposals that I’ve researched to be stirring, moving, inspiring, and a successful call to action. I’d contrast that with say, George W.’s recent State of the Union address (not very inspiring) or Romney’s abdication speech (it inspired many people I know but for reasons that I find morally deficient — blind party loyalty, fearmongering, warmongering). Maybe I just need to research Obama more, but I really want to support candidates that are both inspiring and talking about values I share (hopefulness, helpfulness, optimism, unity . . . kinda the opposite of Romney/Bush/McCain)

    4) Finally when Obama does strike a chord in a speech that doesn’t resonate with me – and I think these are the kind of things you are expressing the most concern about – welfare without responsibility, blaming ‘big businesses’ without sound or fair reasoning, centralizing more Federal government, etc. I fear his proposals for bad government or fiduciary irresponsibility far less than McCain or even Clinton. Furthermore, I find far more reason to hope that an Obama proposal on establishing a new Federal Bureau of Something for instance would wind it’s way through the normal checks and balances of Congress whereas a McCain (or even Clinton) Iranian invasion or Venezuelan standoff (or whatever) would simply be rubbers-stamped and financed by more borrowing without any questions.

    So I guess for me instead of “it’s the economy stupid” I think “it’s the foreign policy stupid” which is bankrupting our economy, creating ill will abroad, and mismanaging the good will of our own patriotic citizens at home with many lives hanging in the balance. Despite some mis-steps, Obama is head and shoulders beyond Clinton and McCain on foreign policy and that matters to me this election.

    Still researching this one — and your thoughts and articles have given me more to consider — but I tend to like more about Obama the more I find out about him (not a general trend for me and politicians). IE I like his books, I like that he left his high-paying lawyer job to take a low-paying social worker job in Chicago, etc.

  19. Doug Bayless
    February 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    Furthermore, I don’t buy into many of the liberal / conservative tags I find bandied about. Much is starting to be made of Obama having “the most liberal voting record” but I need to really look into their criteria (I was happy to see they listed the bills they were considering) before I come to a conclusion on that. For instance, I would consider Paul’s stance on almost everything very “conservative” — but somehow borrowing trillions of dollars to provide corporate welfare and invade foreign countries is considered “conservative” and not “liberal” by lots of people that aren’t me.

  20. Daniel
    February 14, 2008 at 7:05 pm #

    Speak for yourself, Daniel. Others, like myself, disagree wholeheartedly. Please don’t presume to know the basis and scope of my faith, or anybody’s for that matter.

    I’d like to follow this up, but later and not on this thread.

    We’re only starting to see the Obama-bashing. They usually wait to see who the nominee will be. And since the Republicans will probably be out of power, they won’t have anything to do but crank up the noise machine.

    First, it was the madrassa smears, and now it’s the “most liberal” tag. You can expect to hear a lot of that this year.

  21. Jay
    February 14, 2008 at 10:31 pm #

    And since the Republicans will probably be out of power, they won’t have anything to do but crank up the noise machine.

    My guess is that it’s more than probably. I’m one who would love to see the Democrats take the Republicans out behind the woodshed and give them the beating of their life. And I think this is going to be the year. The Republicans are going to lose the presidency, and probably more seats in congress. And they should. After they way Bush and his cronies have screwed up this country and the economy, it’s time to turn it over to the Democrats who without a doubt, will show us that they can screw it up even more, if it’s possible. And then maybe after four years of Democrat foolishness, we’ll be ripe for a president who actually honors his oath of office.

    I got a great kick out of Flip Flomney’s endorsement of McCain. What a couple of peas in a pod. I bet Utah Republicans are chocking on their grape Kool-Aid, tonight.

    Jay

  22. Dan
    February 15, 2008 at 3:52 am #

    With Romney’s endorsement of McCain, I wonder what Republican Mormons will do when McCain takes on Huckabee as VP…

    heh.

  23. Daniel
    February 15, 2008 at 6:08 am #

    I think as long as Huck’s a non-smoker, there shouldn’t be too much trouble.

  24. Dustin
    February 15, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    I’ve been wondering why Americans can seem so brainless at times. We’re like stupid sheep. The answer becomes more apparent when I think about the scriptures. When leaders are righteous, the people are righteous and prosper. As the leaders become corrupt, so do the people.

    Mosiah 11 really stood out to me as I read it the other day. The people were doing well under the reign of Zeniff. Once he conferred the kingdom to his son Noah, things went downhill fast.

    He laid a tax of 1/5 on the people (I wish we were so lucky!).

    Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.

    I think we labor to support iniquity.

    The Lord sends in a prophet and it doesn’t do much good.

    Now the eyes of the people were blinded; therefore they hardened their hearts against the words of Abinadi…

    They eyes of the American people are blinded by the cunning words of the candidates.

    I was listening to Glenn Beck on the way home from work the other day. He said if all the candidates got what they were proposing (these are from memory so I hope they are accurate):

    If Obama wins, federal spending increases 280 billion per year
    If Hillary wins, federal spending increases 210 billion per year
    If Huckabee wins, federal spending increases 40 billion per year
    If McCain wins, federal spending increases 7 billion per year
    If Ron Paul wins, federal spending decreases 150 billion per year

  25. Daniel
    February 15, 2008 at 10:18 am #

    If you don’t mind me sayin’, the first problem was in assuming that Glenn Beck was accurate.

  26. Sean
    February 15, 2008 at 10:28 am #

    Daniel,

    I think Dustin’s point in sharing those numbers was to point out the spending increases proposed by each candidate. I haven’t verified the exact numbers myself (each of which would be based on assumptions), but by scope of magnitude they sound reasonable to me.

  27. Doug Bayless
    February 15, 2008 at 10:53 am #

    I’ve seen the numbers Beck is reporting (they’re not his conjectures) but I do think trying to prophesy something that specific is an exercise in ignorance and insanity.

    About the only assumption I find reasonable there is that if Paul got what he proposes federal spending would decrease, but if any of the other major party contenders got their proposals federal spending would increase.

    Everything else about that is disingenous at best and wild speculation at worst.

    As for disingenousness, Obama has put out some of the best hard numbers and figures for his proposals (one of the facts that I think contradicts this “non-substantive” attack). Consequently he’s very open to attack. But that kind of transparency should be praised.

    Furthermore, Obama’s proposals are the least connected to these automatic “patriotic duty” military expenditures that the other candidates (except again Paul) are most likely to push through. So if John McCain decides we need $300 billion extra for an unbudgeted emergency 5-year (100 year?) staying plan in Iran after a botched precision bomb, bomb, bombing campaign (to the Beach boys tune) it’s probably an automatic rubber stamp from Congress. But since debating and even voting against Obama’s proposals isn’t likely to result in treason charges, it’s *way* less likely that somebody like Obama will *get* everything they propose.

  28. Sean
    February 15, 2008 at 11:06 am #

    Doug,

    People forecast budgets all the time in many areas of life. They are rarely exactly accurate; the goal is usually to make them as reasonably accurate as possible in order to help people make decisions.

    I agree with you that the specifics could be debated as to their likelihood for passage, and their morality. But I suspect many readers of this blog (and, I wish, more of the population at large) are interested in knowing the philosophies of candidates regarding their approach to government – who proposes to increase spending and why? I know I am.

    We could (and many do) debate round and round about specific proposals and price tags. But my opinion is that good and wise men believe more in people solving problems than in government solving them.

  29. Doug Bayless
    February 15, 2008 at 11:09 am #

    But my opinion is that good and wise men believe more in people solving problems than in government solving them.

    OK. I agree very much and – in all fairness – more to the point of Connor’s post I think.

  30. Doug Bayless
    February 15, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    But I suspect many readers of this blog (and, I wish, more of the population at large) are interested in knowing the philosophies of candidates regarding their approach to government – who proposes to increase spending and why? I know I am.

    I guess I feel like other than Paul *all* of the major party candidates are proposing expanding our flawed socialist programs. I suppose I feel most comfortable with the type of socialism Obama proposes.

    It seems as if somebody like Obama proposes something like an expansion in food stamps for low income families and the Republicans step in and so “Are you crazy? That promotes indolence and rewards laziness with my tax dollars!” while saying out the other side of their mouths “But what we’ve have noticed is that proven, hard-working business leaders seem to be making poor decisions probably caused by low sugar levels mid-day. What we need is a subsidized corporate eat-out-at-expensive-restaurants-free-for-lunch program to stimulate business leaders mid-day thinking. Sure it costs just as much as that “food stamp communist thing” (or more) but it rewards hard workers plus it’ll “trickle down” so it has a much better ROI. . . .
    I guess I see Republican corporate and military-industrial socialism as equally expensive but much more morally deficient.

  31. Sean
    February 15, 2008 at 1:20 pm #

    Doug, I agree with your analysis on both types of socialism. And I think that is why the “welfare-warfare state” has expanded, because there are vested interests in politics and society on both sides of that spectrum. And they tend toward an uneasy alliance, all the while expanding government. Then when someone like Dr. Paul asks for a stop to it, each side point the finger at the other. I am frankly growing a little weary of specific policy discussions by the candidates and am eager to move more toward a discussion nationally about appropriate principles of government.

  32. Amy
    February 16, 2008 at 11:24 am #

    Couldn’t have said it better myself!!! You took the words RIGHT out of my mouth. :)

  33. Connor
    February 19, 2008 at 9:32 am #

    Further evidence:

    Sophisticated commentary now notes the growing creepiness of the Obama campaign: Its aversion to substantive policy discussions. The sermonizing — “In the face of despair, we believe there can be hope.” And the messianic bit — “At this moment in the election there is something happening in America.” (That would be he.)

    Volunteer trainees at Camp Obama are told not to talk issues with voters, but to offer personal testimony about how they “came” to Obama. Makes the skin crawl.

  34. John
    February 19, 2008 at 9:51 am #

    Honestly, I’ve like most everything I’ve heard from Obama. Sure, he has his hopes & dreams speeches just like every candidate (well, except for McCain’s we’re-in-it-for-the-long-haul speeches), but I don’t think he’s completely insubstantive. His website isn’t sparse on details or history. It might be a matter of context.

    His speech about faith in America was seminal.

    If anything, I’m starting to wonder if my misplaced hope is in Ron Paul’s presidential race. It’s not over until it’s over, but there’s not really a chance we’ll see President Paul in 2009.

    If push comes to shove, I’ll vote for Obama’s higher ideals over McCain’s never-ending wars and torture.

  35. Doug Bayless
    February 20, 2008 at 10:47 am #

    Genuinely, Connor I think this “Obama is insubstantive” meme is unfair and overblown. Rasmussen is the FOXNews of the polling world so quoting them isn’t the most credible for me . . . their biases are well established and the line between reporting and shaping opinions continues to blur.

    Certainly, Obama does not have a well established respect for the “proper role of government” as you convincingly and accurately argue. But neither do the other likely candidates. McCain is a corporate/military-industrialist socialist and Clinton strikes me as a combination of both McCain and Obama’s worst strains of socialism.

    For me, given the choice of what brand of socialism I’ll vote for, it’s Obama at this point. At least he’s proposing taking from the people and then giving to the people that might need it most. And he is at least *talking* pretty well on Iraq. Although I prefer law and order, I’d vote for Robin Hood over King John any day.

    I guess I kind of think of it like in the Book of Mormon where the people choose to have a king against the better recommendation of people like Nephi. If you’re gonna have a king (really not the best choice in the first place) at least try to choose one more like Mosiah than Noah, y’know?

  36. Dustin
    February 20, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    I don’t think it’s the role of Government to play Robin Hood. “Thou shalt not steal” is a commandment no matter what you do with your stolen goods.

    Besides, these guys think they are robbing from the rich to give to the poor. The poor continue to pay taxes though and continue to get poorer. The rich are smart enough to know how to shelter all their money. In the end, it’s the working middle class that is hit the hardest!

  37. Connor
    February 20, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    More commentary:

    In this piece from the PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, E. J. Dionne pointed out that Obama is actually speaking in the fashion of a revivalist. I’ve noticed the same is true of his wife Michelle. This seems to fit in nicely with the idea of Obama’s movement being a sort of cult following. Revivalism from the beginning has only thrived insofar as a single individual is the focus of the devotion of the faithful, and that individual is chosen based on his ability to stir up excitement in his followers. Objective truth and deep sustained intellectual reflection are substituted with shallow rhetoric and easily attained emotional fervor. So, in fact, Obama actually has more in common with Charles Finney than with any former president, in that his views on policy are largely irrelevant to his supporters. In the modern context, Joel Osteen comes to mind. People don’t care what he says, so long as he makes them feel good. But what we’re witnessing is a sort of resurrection of the Caesar cult. People believe that the government is to be their savior, and they think Obama would make a good messiah.

  38. Doug Bayless
    February 20, 2008 at 3:41 pm #

    Dustin and Connor,

    I’m actually in complete agreement with you guys as to the inappropriateness letting government pretend to play “Robin Hood” or people believing that “government is to be their savior”

    My simple disagreement with “the fallacy of misplaced hope” is that it seems to suggest that Obama is *more* guilty of that than his likely opponents.

    In a nation where too many of my fellow Republicans are cheering for the government to pre-emptively attack non-aggresive nations to “save” us from potential future terrorism [to cite just one example], I have a hard time seeing Obama as the bad guy. Or the worst guy anyways.

    As to the rest, and regardless of my perhaps to hasty comments, I’m basically in agreement with the principles that concern you.

  39. Connor
    February 20, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    My simple disagreement with “the fallacy of misplaced hope” is that it seems to suggest that Obama is *more* guilty of that than his likely opponents.

    While Obama was specifically mentioned in this post (as he is the largest purveyor or political “hope” in this campaign), the main indictment is on his supporters. Consequently, the same indictment may be made just as easily on any other candidate’s supporters—those who have a budding hero-worship, and praise the man more than the principles.

    …I have a hard time seeing Obama as the bad guy. Or the worst guy anyways.

    Indeed. Many would agree. This, then, leads to the “lesser of two evils” approach, which assumes that as long as Obama isn’t bombing people, he’s a good pick for president. Thus, he could get away with any number of social evils, so long as he didn’t physically injure another. One might argue, under this premise, that it’s far easier to be evil in this regard than in the other, for the bomber is easily seen as evil, whereas the Robin Hood is praised continuously for being a do-gooder.

    I think this all boils down to what one perceives as proper presidential support. Do we support the lesser of two evils, or do we stand firm for truth, righteousness, and morality? Do we throw our weight behind the “practical candidate” (as many former Romney supporters are now support McCain, their one-time bitter enemy) or vote for the person that meets the Lord’s requirements of being honest, good, and wise, regardless of his so-called “electability”?

    This most certainly is a conundrum, for the “lesser of two evils” camp is winning. As the lesser of two evils is still evil itself, what do we get election after election? Certainly not anything that moves the cause of liberty, that’s for sure.

  40. Dustin
    February 20, 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    Ah, this reminds me of 8 years ago, when I was first married and hardly into politics. My wife asked who I was voting for. My reply was “Most likely Bush, the lesser of two evils.” She got on my case because she really liked him.

  41. Daniel
    February 20, 2008 at 4:53 pm #

    This, then, leads to the “lesser of two evils” approach, which assumes that as long as Obama isn’t bombing people, he’s a good pick for president.

    This analysis makes sense — if you forget that we actually do have a president that is bombing people!

    Bush has set the bar pretty low. At this stage, anyone who doesn’t bomb the wrong country, throw people into secret prisons, wiretap my phone, use the Bill of Rights to roll joints in, or take a dump on the Oval Office rug is lookin’ good!

    If they can actually manage to make some reasonable policy decisions, that’s a bonus.

  42. Sean
    February 20, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    Bush has set the bar pretty low. At this stage, anyone who doesn’t bomb the wrong country, throw people into secret prisons, wiretap my phone, use the Bill of Rights to roll joints in, or take a dump on the Oval Office rug is lookin’ good!

    I think you just reinforced Connor’s point. That is, it sounds like you’re saying Obama looks pretty good when compared with someone else (Bush). That sounds like the lesser of two evils argument to me.

    Among McCain, Obama, and Clinton, none of the three give me much hope.

  43. Daniel
    February 20, 2008 at 6:46 pm #

    Oh, I don’t mean to sound like that.

    It’s funny, because I know people have complained about Lo2E candidates for as long as I can remember (the 70’s, FYI), but this is the first time I’ve actually thought that one party had fielded such a strong group of candidates. (Talking about the Democrats, of course.) All the Republicans (bar one) sound like they’re running for Bush’s third term.

  44. Doug Bayless
    February 21, 2008 at 9:26 am #

    The “Lesser of Two Evils” debate is one I don’t know how to reckon with.

    What constitutes the “Lesser of Two Evils” in the first place? Any candidate who falls short of perfection? . . . I’m supposing that people here aren’t being that silly. I got excited about Ron Paul because for once I found a candidate that I believed could truly promote more good than harm . . . is that a reasonable criteria for transcending the “evil” tag: “more good than harm”?

    I guess basically I feel like the “Lesser of Two Evils” is a worn-out abstraction — perhaps the same amorphous evil you find in platitudes about “hope” lol. Without more substantial criteria to discuss you can potentially dismiss all candidates on all sides in all contests as the “Lessers” of multiple evils and nobody can really call you out on it because there isn’t clear criteria to analyze.

    When they asked Nephi to be King and his understanding of governance caused him to blanch he didn’t pull the “Lesser of Two Evils” card, he seemed to understand that an imperfect system was better than anarchy and at least something to work with. When Benjamin found himself King — and also seemed to have a good understanding of all the problems that entailed — he simply strove to be the best one he could (not the lesser of all possible evil kings although you could philosophically argue that is the same thing).

    There are certainly things in life where “none of the above” is a better choice than “the lesser of two evils” but I’m not sure President is one of those things.

    Finally, I actually do believe that bombing innocent people and starting wars of pre-emptive aggression is far, far more evil than any expansion of ill-conceived government social ventures. Furthermore I think you can support a candidate like Obama for the parts of his platform you agree with and continue to voice your opposition to the planks you disagree with. In fact, that’s pretty much your civic duty whoever you support.

  45. Connor
    February 21, 2008 at 9:37 am #

    What constitutes the “Lesser of Two Evils” in the first place? Any candidate who falls short of perfection?

    I think the Lord said it best:

    Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;
    And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil. (D&C 98:6-7)

    So, anybody who is a strict Constitutionalist is okay. Anything other than that – not good.

    The criteria we must analyze, as you mention, is the Constitution—that document that elected leaders swear to uphold and defend, but rarely do. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we hold our leaders accountable and, as Jefferson said, bind them down to the Constitution.

  46. Doug Bayless
    February 21, 2008 at 10:03 am #

    Connor, well said and referenced.

    OK, down to specifics, what do people who want to follow that standard do now?

    Ron Paul is pretty dang good on the Constitution. The best I’ve seen. I voted for him in the Primary and didn’t mind that technically that could have helped Romney or McCain or whoever had a better chance in my primary — because none of them were better than each other on the issues that I held most dear.

    But for the national election I do feel like Obama upholds the Constitution much better than McCain. (If it’s Hillary/McCain this calculus changes and I’m pretty sure I vote for Paul.) Obama is against the usurpations of civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution for the right reasons. Obama is against at least some of our un-Constitutional and unwise military actions for the right reasons. He voices those opinions and votes correctly on many issues. If it ends up being Obama/McCain and I don’t do anything to help prevent McCain and his un-Constitutional policies – both at home and abroad – then I will feel like I misused my freedom.

  47. Connor
    February 21, 2008 at 12:36 pm #

    Another article, this one an op-ed in the NY Times, likewise notes the “Obama Comedown Syndrome”.

  48. Doug Bayless
    February 21, 2008 at 1:07 pm #

    David Brooks (the author of your latest NY Times hit piece) is a neo-con who helped fuel media acceptance of the potential Iraqi invasion, is currently helping fuel apocalyptic visions of US withdrawal (he admitted recently that his “10,000 Iraqis dying a month” was chosen completely out of thin air), and further seems to be on the “wrong side” [for me] of almost every other issue I’ve researched on him. That he would help push the Obama is “insubstantial” meme surprises me not at all.

    I feel like I’m on some website trying to explain to people why Kerchik’s TNR hit piece on the “Ron Paul Newsletters” is not the sum substance of Ron Paul. I expect somebody like Brooks to be pushing this idea, but not the author or commentators at connorboyack. :]

    Look, you can accurately disagree with some stupid positions Obama has taken over the years (kindergarten sex ed was one you found that I’d never heard of but, yeah, . . . whoa . . . wrong on so many levels lol). You can express grave concern that somebody like me jumps on the bandwagon by choosing my favorite of his many varied foreign policy statements. You can cite his hypocrisy when he excoriates Clinton for voting to make the Iranian guard an official “terrorist organization” — when he didn’t even show up to vote. The guy certainly has chinks in his “messianic” armor. Around here you can simply point at his CFR membership — or better yet highlight phrases in his CFR speech last year or his article in Foreign Policy. Etc.

    But attacking him as having the least good fruits (heck his opposition to our endless war and the Patriot Act are pretty substantial fruits for me) or for having dedicated and possibly under-informed supporters seems kinda pointless. What are McCain’s good fruits? Clinton’s? I never thought people should judge Paul by his less impressive supporters . . . why should Obama?

    Basically I find Obama’s messages about “hope” sincere and substantial. I’ve been looking into his platform, his character, and his positions. I didn’t expect to find someone as willing to uphold the Constitution as he is so close to the nomination. For me this isn’t about political party or about media spin. Perhaps my hope is misplaced but I currently believe an Obama election would send some immediate messages to the world that anything short of a Paul election would fail to do. For me the jury is still out on this Obama guy – I just can’t see the point in writing him off so surely.

  49. Connor
    February 21, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    Doug,

    I admire your persistence. :)

    I was not aware of this author’s background. While interesting, I think his points are valid.

    You make a good point in saying that the candidate should not be judged by his supporters. In Obama’s case, however, he is the one adding fuel to the fire. For example, Paul does not mention the 9/11 truth movement or pro-conspiracy theories. And yet, the media and others try to undermine his platform and viability based on the positions of isolated supporters.

    In Obama’s case, however, he is the one causing the problem. I realize that his website is rich in content and specificity. However, he offers little of this in his speeches. He seems to want to be a revivalist preacher more than he does a president. I believe that his speeches should contain substance, details, and principles instead of so much fluff, eloquence, and rhetoric.

    It’s not so much his positions that I’m arguing against here (though they would provide plenty of blog fodder for months to come—years, if he wins this fall), it’s the nature of his presentation, the method of his discourse, and the tactics he uses to attract and allure a voting bloc hoping for “change”.

  50. Connor
    February 25, 2008 at 9:07 am #

    Further evidence of the hysteria and quasi-messianic hero worship:

    Is Barack Obama the Messiah?

    And, for balance’s sake:

    No, Dear, Barack Obama is NOT the Messiah

  51. Sean
    February 26, 2008 at 9:34 am #

    John,

    That is an interesting comparison of Obama vs. Clinton. If I thought the policies he is advocating (in a more “big picture” way than Clinton) were reasons to hope, I would do so. I think his policies are emotionally provocative movements in the wrong direction.

    See here. Fiscal policy is carrying our nation toward bankruptcy, as has been described many times on Connor’s site and elsewhere. But Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security hardly register as much as even a sound byte from the leading candidates.

  52. Doug Bayless
    February 28, 2008 at 10:40 am #

    Sean,

    I heartily agree that

    Fiscal policy is carrying our nation toward bankruptcy, as has been described many times on Connor’s site and elsewhere. But Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security hardly register as much as even a sound byte from the leading candidates.

    The question I keep asking myself, however, is does Obama deserve the brunt of such criticisms from “fiscal conservatives” as this blog entry and many comments seem to indicate. (I think he just makes an easy target.) That link you provided lists some of the expensive, expansive programs Obama supports. But it lacks the crucial “big picture” context of how that compares to the other leading candidates.

    I particularly disagree with the numbers being pushed by “conservative” media “proving” that if the Democratic candidates got “everything they proposed” they would certainly be the most flagrant abusers of our tax system (ie spend the most, push the most inappropriate uses of government, etc.) Whatever else someone wants to argue, it has been conventional wisdom that Republicans push “fiscal conservatism” and only “appropriate” tax-funded government interventions (in the economy, in the world, etc.). We have decades to prove that false now.

    In my opinion, now that the Republican Party has so flagrantly pushed out the only candidate pushing wise and sound government policies — Ron Paul, I feel obliged to look at all the candidates with fresh eyes. I still can’t see how my hope that Obama would make a better President (even fiscally) than somebody like McCain is misplaced. I don’t support all of Obama’s proposals or politics but I support even less of McCain’s – particularly his egregious foreign policy and positions on domestic civil liberties.

    Finally, anybody who doesn’t believe that more wars of aggression and occupation and military build-up [McCain proposals] are *not* more expensive (and irresponsible and damaging etc.) than government subsidized education and whatnot [Obama proposals] hasn’t really been paying attention.

  53. Sean
    February 28, 2008 at 5:47 pm #

    I still can’t see how my hope that Obama would make a better President (even fiscally) than somebody like McCain is misplaced. I don’t support all of Obama’s proposals or politics but I support even less of McCain’s – particularly his egregious foreign policy and positions on domestic civil liberties.

    I still haven’t decided whether I think McCain or Obama would be the lesser of two evils, the better President. Weighing them both against the Lord’s criteria (upholding Constitutional law, and being good and wise – both of which Connor has pointed out), I find them both lacking at this point. As you have pointed out, they tend to lack in different areas, but I thikn they both are lacking nonetheless.

    The point I’m trying to reinforce (and I think the point Connor was trying to make in the first place) is that placing great hope in Obama as a political messiah or a leader of a great new era is misguided. He may have a magnetic personality, but I think his policies are pretty typical of liberal-leaning politicians.

    Finally, anybody who doesn’t believe that more wars of aggression and occupation and military build-up [McCain proposals] are *not* more expensive (and irresponsible and damaging etc.) than government subsidized education and whatnot [Obama proposals] hasn’t really been paying attention.

    I think both war and socialistic domestic policies are generally expensive, irresponsible, and damaging. But when you say that those who choose one over the other are not paying attention, what are they not paying attention to? I see them as 2 sides of the same coin – each gives government more power over people’s lives. It’s the welfare/warfare state.

    That said, our nation may be losing its ability to be free through the moral decay of society. It is true that the more we give people freedom to do as they please, the more we need to be prepared for individual struggles. This is the same as Heavenly Father’s plan for His children. He wanted to preserve our agency at all costs, while the opposite plan would force us to be good and be saved (which could never come to pass – one cannot be saved by force).

    So what is the best way to run our society? I think it’s to give people the most freedom they can handle. Maybe many people can’t handle freedom today. Ben Franklin said after the Constitution was signed that the Founding Fathers had created “a republic, if you can keep it”, meaning that a republic is only functional when the people pay the price to be vigilant and keep it going. Liberty is possible only when responsibility is accepted.

    Maybe the best way to create liberty and freedom is to teach and exemplify morality, and right vs. wrong. I think liberty and freedom are the natural outgrowths of goodness, responsibility, and morality.

    I’m carrying on now, but the bottom line is that I’m thinking that focusing on morality and responsibility may be a better way to spread freedom than proclaiming freedom itself. But proclaiming freedom has to have a place in that, being that it’s the natural fruit that flows from goodness.

  54. Doug Bayless
    February 29, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    Sean, if that’s your idea of “carrying on”, please ‘carry on’ lol. That was a great post. I agree heartily with everything you said, including – perhaps – the insinuation that Connor’s original post is kinda being thread-jacked by people like me who might be a little more sensitive than necessary about defending Obama specifically.

    the bottom line is that I’m thinking that focusing on morality and responsibility may be a better way to spread freedom

    I currently opine that the biggest bang-for-the-buck “focus on morality and responsibility” we could do would be to change our foreign policy. The message we’re sending abroad (and even at home) is certainly anything but Christian morality and responsiblity.

    I think Obama has demonstrated (with more than just words) a disposition and ability to do ‘better’ than McCain on that particular charge. How much better, however, is something that I wish I was able to gauge more clearly. I’m trying (as Connor advocates) not to fall under the spell and lose perspective on questions like that. :)

  55. Connor
    March 4, 2008 at 4:55 pm #

    The American Conservative recently ran an article as their cover story titled “Make the World Safe for Hope” which is worth a read.

  56. Doug Bayless
    March 4, 2008 at 5:22 pm #

    Wow. That piece in the American Conservative details exactly my worst fears.

    Why don’t any of the leading candidates see the problem with policing the world and pretending that aggressive, militant, Imperial expansionism will certainly improve life for the conquered masses?

    Thank you for posting. That article alone tempered my enthusiasm back to the realistic and moderate (at least for today lol — I *so* wish I could hope for better :]).

  57. Curtis
    March 4, 2008 at 8:16 pm #

    Wow, scary article Connor. I know your answer in part to this is Ron Paul. I would take him over Obama any day, but fortunately, my man Nader is in the race and he’s got my vote.

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