Monthly Archives: September 2012

Obama, Or the Idea Of Obama?

Are Democrats supporting the real Obama, or the idea of Obama?

In his best-selling book “Breaking the Spell,” the philosopher Daniel Dennett proposed that a large number of religious believers didn’t really believe in the dogma and tenants of their particular religion, but instead in the idea of belief itself. That is to say that they wanted the effects, or the idea of religion to be true, such as eternal life, forgiveness of sins, the possibility of healing and other miracles through prayer, etc., but if forced into a corner didn’t really swallow virgin births, talking snakes, worldwide floods, and the rest of the nonsense. Such “believers in belief” will pick-and-choose which of their religions’ dogma’s they will believe, which they will ignore, and which of the principles they will follow, and which they will not. As an example, the overwhelming majority of “practicing Catholics” ignore the Vatican’s admonitions concerning birth control, and most (according to surveys) are unaffected by the church’s weak response to the problem of pedophile priests. You can imagine the uproar if it was, say, an atheist group systematically raping small boys, but even though the current Pope managed a good deal of the cover-up, the organization is still functioning, and still has its share of “believers.”

We are seeing the same phenomena in this presidential election cycle, on both sides of the debate, but especially on the Democratic side. A large number of Democratic voters (most of whom call themselves Liberals) want so much for the idea of Obama to be true that they are willing to forget or ignore most of his actions over the last four years. In a likewise manner, they want so much for the idea of America to be true that they still believe that elections can make a difference, and somehow, if Obama has another four years, he will stop the killing, bring the jobs back, restore the Bill of Rights, lessen the inequity in wealth distribution, take steps to mitigate the effects of global warming, and restore the “American Dream.” They can engage in such magical thinking because they have developed the skill of ignoring not only the current political reality, but also the reality of who Obama is, and who he’s working for. Their magical thinking allows them to accept behavior from Obama for which they would excoriate a Republican, such as murdering women and children by the hundreds in an illegal drone war waged over an entire region, and approving any scheme by the oil companies, no matter the cost to the environment.  Continue reading