Imaginations can run wild in the affinity bubble.
I was in Washington, DC, over the weekend when it dawned on me that we on the right were probably wrong about Obama’s thirst for dictatorial power. Or maybe we were right, but seven years of near-dictatorial power have exhausted the would-be autocrat. He certain looks worn down, as this Time magazine side-by-side shows:
President Obama in 2009 and again in 2016
Remember when many of us believed that President Obama was planning something like a coup? That he’d find some excuse to remain in power even after losing an election or after running out of terms?
Well those theories look crazy now. That’s because the Obama administration demonstrated remarkable restraint handling that Oregon militia siege. For that matter, the Bundy Ranch standoff also discredited the our old theories.
Yes, I know that one militia member was killed, but the video shows police reasonably suspected he was reaching for a weapon. And I realize Obama’s use of executive orders break a basic rule of restraint. The Supreme Court may even overturn his immigration orders.
But the military junta some of us expected him to impose seems to be pure fiction at this point. At least, I certainly hope so. I hope we owe Obama an apology.
If anyone owes the President an apology, I am at the top of that list. Here are all my blog posts containing the word “dictator." As you’ll see, most of them refer to Barack Obama.
But I am not alone.
I remember watching Glenn Beck’s evening show in 2009. Evening after evening Beck warned about the coming overthrow of the US government by Obama’s henchmen. He warned that the administration was looking for any excuse to slaughter Americans, confiscate guns, and impose martial law.
Those paranoid warnings–his, mine, others–look a little ridiculous now.
Maybe the Bundy Ranch episode was not the right excuse for a wannabe dictator to shoot some folks and impose military rule. There were many witnesses, including a friend of mine.
But this siege of the Oregon wildlife sanctuary is a different story. Unlike the Bundy Ranch where people simply responded to government provocations, in Oregon militants plotted and seized federal property. Leaving aside the need for the federal government to “own” all that land out west, the militia’s action was criminal on its face. Because so many conservatives immediately voiced opposition to the militia, and because of the refuge’s seclusion, this seems to be the perfect situation for a tyrant to go all Janet Reno.
And yet the federal agents show remarkable restraint and discipline.
The Oregon incident tells me a couple of things. First, I need to be far more critical when thinking about things I want to believe. Second, I owe Barack Obama an apology for my many posts and speeches inspired by a lack of critical thinking and over-reliance on the echo chamber of the affinity bubble.
I’ll throw in one more to remind myself: the things we’re afraid of are never as bad as we think they will be while we’re thinking about them. (And the good stuff is never as good as we thought it would be, either.)
Remember this lesson when you hear Glenn Beck and others warn about the coming of the next dictator. Especially if they get paid to scare people.