Four Reasons Why I Won’t Vote for Barack Obama
Heading into the election, President Obama remains popular with supporters. But there are many good reasons not to vote for him (or for Mitt Romney). For those who care about freedom, there is a better choice.
Four years ago, Barack Obama was chosen to be President of the United States in one of the most momentous elections in recent memory. Running after eight years of George W. Bush when the country was fatigued from the endless “War on Terror” and terrified by an economic crisis surpassed only by the the Great Depression, Obama offered Americans “hope and change.”
I didn’t vote for him then because I doubted his sincerity. But, after he was elected, like most Americans I hoped that there would be some positive outcomes from his Presidency. My ever so meager optimism was completely wrong. Arguably, as President, Obama’s performance has been dismal at best, and very, very dangerous at worst. I won’t be voting for him tomorrow. Here’s why.
- Class warfare socialism — America was founded on the belief that private property should be protected by law. After all, why work hard all your life when your assets are continuously at risk of seizure by the government, either through taxation or inflation? The rallying cry of the War for Independence was “no taxation without representation.” Americans then didn’t want some distant king or parliament imposing taxes on them thereby stealing their property without their say so. They worked hard to earn their livelihoods and their properties, and many were ready to fight and die to protect the principle that the government didn’t have the right to confiscate their property through onerous taxation.
During the 20th century, though, Americans were hoodwinked into letting the government tax their incomes. Then they were hoodwinked into additional taxes that were to be used to “help” others through redistribution of income. Initially, both these types of levies were small, and not much of a burden. But they have gradually become larger over time and they have enshrined in law the principle that the government has an absolute claim on every person’s property and, moreover, can take that property and give it to someone else.
Under Barack Obama, this has now been combined with calls for class warfare. Playing to his supporters who envy and hate the “1 percent,” Obama has proposed massive new taxes on “the rich” to help fund the federal spending binge.
Both morally and economically this is exactly the wrong thing to do. Economically, raising taxes on anyone during a downturn is poor policy. Increased taxes drive down investment. Lower levels of investing ultimately trickle down to workers who find that businesses, facing leaner times as a result, are more thrifty when it comes to hiring. Fewer jobs are available and people stop even looking for work. Labor force participation has declined continuously under Obama. But even more importantly, high taxation on the rich, or on anyone else, is morally wrong. If you work hard for your livelihood, if you aspire to a better life and succeed in getting there, what right does the President or Congress have to steal your hard-won property?
If it is a crime to break into your neighbor’s house and steal his checkbook, then it is still a crime when a gang of thieves in Washington, DC does the same.
- The war on the Fourth Amendment — You may have heard of the Fourth Amendment. It reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The Bush administration, to its everlasting shame and discredit, essentially revoked the Fourth Amendment. Under Bush, the government began using illegal wiretaps and instituted the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) which searches and frisks people without warrants or probable cause, violating the Fourth Amendment tens of thousands of times every day.
As an erstwhile “liberal” Democrat, it might have been supposed that some of the “hope and change” promised by Obama during his first campaign would have been in this area, especially since he had a Democrat controlled House and Senate to work with during part of his first term.
Instead, the Obama administration has continued the assault on the Fourth Amendment unabated. The TSA continues unchanged at America’s airports, while simultaneously expanding its cancer throughout the rest of the nation’s infrastructure. The agency now has 25 “Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response” (VIPR) teams, that, according to the Los Angeles Times, “are increasingly conducting searches and screenings at train stations, subways, ferry terminals and other mass transit locations around the country.”
During 2011, the LA Times reported, VIPR teams ran more than 9,300 checkpoints and search operations, stamping their jackboots on the Fourth Amendment each and every time. This expansion of the TSA’s effort to quash freedom in America has even led one American columnist with the UK’s Guardian newspaper to quip in a headline: “The TSA’s mission creep is making the US a police state.” And it’s happening under Obama’s watch.
- The “kill list.” — At one time, the United States secretly engaged in political assassinations. When this unsavory fact was revealed in the 1970s, then-president Gerald Ford took action to ensure that these assassinations would not continue. Writing in the New York University Journal of Law & Liberty, legal scholar Stephen Knoepfler sketched this history:
In 1976, Gerald Ford signed Executive Order (E.O.) 11,9051 in response to a report by the Church Committee, which detailed the United States’ involvement in several assassination attempts. E.O. 11,905 forbade employees from engaging in or conspiring to engage in political assassination. Ronald Reagan expanded upon that prohibition in 1981 by issuing E.O. 12,333, which prohibited not only employees of the United States, but also anyone “acting on behalf of the United States” from conspiring to engage in assassination. Moreover, the ban on assassination described in E.O. 12,333 was not limited to “political assassination” as previously ordered under E.O. 11,905, but applied to all assassination. (PDF)
At the time he wrote this, Knoepfler indicated that the Obama administration had not yet “expressed a perspective on the use of assassination.” We now know that it has. Moreover, we know that the President personally decides who lives and who dies, even if that person is an American citizen.
The “Obama Kill List” was revealed by The New York Times, on May 29, 2012. The paper reported: “Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical.” Noting the apparent irony, the Times continued: “Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding ‘kill list,’ poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre ‘baseball cards’ of an unconventional war.”
The kill list can, and has, included Americans, who the President unilaterally strips of all rights to due process as part of inclusion on the list. Most notably, the list included al-Qaeda spokesman Anwar al-Awlaki who was killed by a drone strike on September 30, 2011. Columnist Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, called this “the day America was assassinated” and wrote in response to the Obama administration’s policies that “any American citizen who is moved into the threat category has no rights and can be executed without trial or evidence.”
This includes innocent, underage Americans who are not terrorists. Two weeks after Anwar al-Awlaki was assassinated, an American drone strike killed his son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. Writing in Esquire magazine, journalist Tom Junod described the killing:
His name was Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and he was 16 years old when he died — when he was killed by a drone strike in Yemen, by the light of the moon. He was the son of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was also born in America, who was also an American citizen, and who was killed by drone two weeks before his son was, along with another American citizen named Samir Khan. Of course, both Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were, at the very least, traitors to their country — they had both gone to Yemen and taken up with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and al-Awlaki had proven himself an expert inciter of those with murderous designs against America and Americans: the rare man of words who could be said to have a body count. When he was killed, on September 30, 2011, President Obama made a speech about it; a few months later, when the Obama administration's public-relations campaign about its embrace of what has come to be called “targeted killing” reached its climax in a front-page story in the New York Times that presented the President of the United States as the last word in deciding who lives and who dies, he was quoted as saying that the decision to put Anwar al-Awlaki on the kill list — and then to kill him — was "an easy one."
But Abdulrahman al-Awlaki wasn't on an American kill list. Nor was he a member of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Nor was he "an inspiration," as his father styled himself, for those determined to draw American blood; nor had he gone "operational," as American authorities said his father had, in drawing up plots against Americans and American interests.
He was a boy who hadn't seen his father in two years, since his father had gone into hiding. He was a boy who knew his father was on an American kill list and who snuck out of his family's home in the early morning hours of September 4, 2011, to try to find him. He was a boy who was still searching for his father when his father was killed, and who, on the night he himself was killed, was saying goodbye to the second cousin with whom he'd lived while on his search, and the friends he'd made. He was a boy among boys, then; a boy among boys eating dinner by an open fire along the side of a road when an American drone came out of the sky and fired the missiles that killed them all.
Asked how the administration could justify killing a 16-year-old American who was not wanted for any crime, Robert Gibbs, the former White House Press Secretary and an adviser to President Obama’s reelection campaign said: “I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children.”
Esquire’s Tom Junod calls the Obama administration “the Lethal Presidency.” This is a good reason not to vote for Barack Obama.
4. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — Through its “kill list” the Obama administration asserts the right to kill anyone it deems a threat without any kind of judicial oversight. As if this isn’t chilling enough, in 2011 the President signed into law the NDAA granting the President the power to indefinitely detain anyone — including American citizens — anywhere in the world, including within America’s borders. Here’s what the ACLU, which has never been accused of having a conservative or libertarian bias, has to say about the NDAA:
On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA’s dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield.
As I’ve written previously, the NDAA violates the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and several parts of the United States Constitution including: the Preamble; Article I., Sec. 9; Article III, Sec. 2; the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and the Sixth Amendment. It’s probable that no other piece of legislation has done more to eviscerate the Constitution than the NDAA.
On May 16, 2012, District Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York found in favor of seven plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against the United States arguing that the NDAA violates “both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.” Writing the court’s opinion, Judge Forrest noted:
This Court is acutely aware that preliminarily enjoining an act of Congress must be done with great caution. However, it is the responsibility of our judicial system to protect the public from acts of Congress which infringe upon constitutional rights. As set forth above, this Court has found that plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits regarding their constitutional claim and it therefore has a responsibility to insure that the public's constitutional rights are protected.
As a result, Judge Forrest ruled that the offending sections of the NDAA may not be enforced pending further action.
This legislation should not have been signed into law. That it violates the very essence of American rule-of-law tradition under the Constitution, as well as centuries of legal and philosophical scholarship and tradition leading up to the founding of the United States, should have been patently obvious to a President who once taught constitutional law.
In addition to these, there are several other reasons that make voting to reelect President Obama a questionable choice. For instance, he promised to lead “the most transparent Administration in history,” yet his administration engages in coverups and persecutes whistleblowers.
In light of all this, and more besides, I won’t be voting for President Obama tomorrow. Instead, I’ll be voting for a former governor, but not the one you think. While former Massachusetts’s governor Mitt Romney’s positions are are mildly better in some areas than Obama’s, he is by no means likely to return the United States to Constitutional government and the rule of law. In all likelihood, I believe he will continue many of the policies hatched by George W. Bush and embellished and expanded upon by Barack Obama.
Instead of Romney, I’ll be voting for the former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. To conventional wisdom, this will be wasting my vote. But conventional wisdom is that which emerges from the collective thought of idiots. Instead, I agree with Governor Johnson:
“A vote for liberty is not wasted.”
Image(Gary Johnson) Credit: CC By 2.0 (Flikr)/Gary Johnson