"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel" said Samuel Johnson.
Well, not always. But President Obama has placed himself squarely in that category that Sam condemned.
One can rightly love one’s country for the values manifest in its government and culture. The United States was founded on the principle that all individuals are endowed "with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Those who fought for those principles were true patriots. Obama is not.
Obama and his minions are openly hostile to the freedom of individuals to seek their own self-interest. They oppose the freedom to prosper to the greatest of one's ability by producing goods and services to trade with one's fellows based on mutual consent.
In a recent TV ad Obama says "It’s time for a new economic patriotism." He offers up the same stale class warfare rhetoric that is the core of his socialist ideology: "Governor Romney believes that with even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy and fewer regulations on Wall Street all of us will prosper." The "tax cuts" bit refers to Romney’s opposition to allowing tax rates to increase, which they’re scheduled to do later this fall unless Congress acts. The deeper Obama message is that it’s unpatriotic to want to keep the money you earn.
This has been a central theme of Obama’s administration. In August, Obama called for higher taxes on "the rich," arguing that "there are a lot of well-to-do Americans, patriotic Americans, who understand this and are willing to do the right thing, willing to do their part to make this country strong." Of course, such individuals are welcome to send extra money to the government so more cash can be flushed down Obama’s various spending-spree toilets. But Obama is not interested in convincing prosperous individuals to be "willing" fork over more of their money. His goal is to force them to turn it over on penalty of imprisonment.
Back in 2008 then-VP candidate Joe Biden said "We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people" by means of placing higher taxes on the more prosperous individuals, telling such individuals that "It’s time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut."
Obama, Biden, and their supporters are using the rhetoric of patriotism to advocate theft based on envy. There is nothing admirable about these values and those who urge them are truly taking the last refuge of a scoundrel.
Hudgins is director of advocacy for The Atlas Society.
For further reading:
*Edward Hudgins, " Producers vs. Expropriators: America’s Coming Civil War ." April 13, 2010.
*Edward Hudgins, " Obama’s Grab-Bag Socialism." April 4, 2009.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.