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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Nothing audacious here

    Nothing audacious here

    Today, a throng of millions will churn between the Temple of Lincoln and the Capitol Dome. In a scene that would make a triumphant Caesar flush green with envy, the new princeps of America will be feted by all the leaders of the Free World, his chariot pimped out to the point of leaving Xzibit speechless.

    To what do we owe our new leader this honor? What swathe of Gaul has he reconquered from the barbarians? Unless we count his primary victory in Arcadian Louisiana, he brings no territory, no gold, no Instead. He comes bearing two words: Change and Hope.

    Change might be good. Perhaps, after an era of foreign escapades, we might reconsider such intervention – a return to normalcy, if you will. Yet President-elect Obama seems reluctant to forgo such use of military force. As he promises to draw down in Iraq, he vows to “”surge”” in Afghanistan. Regarding Darfur, President Obama remarked that, “”the U.S. must ensure humanitarian intervention with or without Sudanese government permission.””

    Perhaps, at least, we might see change in the federal government’s attitude toward civil liberties and respect for the Constitution, which our outgoing Caesar has reportedly deemed “”a goddamned piece of paper.”” Yet when given a chance to partly restore respect for the Fourth Amendment, he instead opted to support warrantless searches and seizures. He voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act, and has supported repressing First Amendment rights in his support of campaign finance “”reform.”” He has seemingly forgotten about the Second Amendment, and in his support of a required service program has chosen to ignore the spirit of the Thirteenth Amendment’s admonishment against “”involuntary servitude.””

    Well, at least there’s the economy, right? Never mind that “”the economy”” quite literally refers to the unmeasurable decisions of billions of independent actors, unconcerted and unmonitored (for now) – deep thinking Harvard Law graduate Obama can solve this problem, with his “”brain trust”” of other deep thinking Ivy League academics. In this he seeks to emulate President Franklin Roosevelt, who achieved that dubious distinction of presiding over, as Milton Friedman put it, “”the only occasion in our record when one deep depression followed immediately on the heels of another.”” Perhaps we can look forward to double digit unemployment in 2015.

    We might be reaching too far, hoping for too much. Instead, we might start with something small, a revolution in the margins. How about reconsidering the hapless war on drugs? Simply by refocusing the campaign away from marijuana and towards the drugs with far more serious social consequences, President-elect Obama could simultaneously restore basic civil liberties, drastically reduce an overburdened prison population, refocus police priorities, save money, and agree with William F. Buckley. In fact, this issue was so important to his online supporters that they voted it the most important question in a poll. President-elect Obama’s answer was as swift and vicious as a no-knock raid: “”President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.”” What’s more, his vice president is an ardent drug warrior, behind everything from the creation of the “”drug czar”” to the RAVE Act, which considers glow sticks and bottled water “”drug paraphenalia.””

    It is no wonder, then, that President-elect Obama’s supporters often flee from discussing the man’s actual policies, choosing instead to attack a straw-duck President-elect Bush. This is a weak and cynical standard – “”Vote Obama: He’s probably better than Bush”” may win elections, but it hardly bodes well for future governance. The “”soft bigotry of low expectations,”” it seems, is with us today. Even casting his election as a baby step forward obscures more than it explains; it is, rather, a shift to the Left, a shift that appears a boon in the harsh light of “”compassionate conservatism,”” the lovechild of Richard Nixon and socialism. For the last century, the government has achieved “”forward progress”” as though the “”Cha Cha Slide”” were playing on repeat – slide to the left, slide to the right. Two wars this time!

    With no real “”Change”” in sight, the only thing left is “”Hope,”” resulting from Obama’s lofty but ultimately vacuous rhetoric. This morning, President-elect Obama might declare something like this: “”So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope.”” Too bad for him that Ronald Reagan used these exact words, at his first inaugural, 28 years ago.

    – Evan Lisull, a former Daily Wildcat columnist and current UA student, blogs at

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