President Obama Sunday all but accused Republicans of lacking patriotism, suggesting their limited government philosophy betrayed an absence of faith in the American system itself.
Obama, who spoke at the Ohio State University commencement, vowed “I’m not going to get partisan” – and then launched into one of the most partisan fusillades of his presidency, caricaturing conservative thought and beseeching the students to “reject these voices”:
Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.
Obama intimated that the power of conservatives – and any success they have opposing to his policies – derives from cynicism in the electorate and an abdication by citizens of the “authority” given them by the Founders:
The Founders trusted us with this awesome authority. We should trust ourselves with it, too. Because when we don’t, when we turn away and get discouraged and cynical, and abdicate that authority, we grant our silent consent to someone who will gladly claim it. That’s how we end up with lobbyists who set the agenda; and policies detached from what middle-class families face every day; the well-connected who publicly demand that Washington stay out of their business — and then whisper in government’s ear for special treatment that you don’t get.
That’s how a small minority of lawmakers get cover to defeat something the vast majority of their constituents want. That’s how our political system gets consumed by small things when we are a people called to do great things.
Obama’s subtle but no-less scathing attack on Republicans comes just as he supposedly is attempting to “build bridges” to the GOP in an effort to try to make progress on issues like immigration and the budget.
Obama made clear in his remarks how starkly his view of the Founders’ vision differs from that of conservatives, saying the Founders intended government as a tool for creating “community” that betters the lives of Americans. Conservatives believe the nation’s ethic is rooted in community among private citizens, and that the Constitution was drawn up to preserve freedom and limit government, not empower it.
The Founders “left us the keys to a system of self-government, the tools to do big things and important things together that we could not possibly do alone,” Obama said, proceeding to delineate a series of government initiatives like stretching “railroads and electricity and a highway system across a sprawling continent.”
Obama urged the students to embrace “citizenship.” Incredibly, he suggested this meant opposing those who would oppose him.