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May 7, 2013

President Obama Tells College Grads Not to Worry About Tyranny

by Kyle Becker

President Obama gave a commencement address to graduates of Ohio State University, and delivered some memorable political phrases that have little to do with the meager job market they are heading into.

Let’s rebut the sophistry point-by-point:

“We the people chose to do these things together. Because we know this country cannot accomplish great things if we pursue nothing greater than our own individual ambition.”

In the capitalist system, it is irrelevant if people pursue their own individual ambitions, because the only way to profit is in a marketplace is to serve the wants and needs of other people. Working hard and prospering in no wise harms others, who willfully pay the demanded price for the products and services or refuse. The greatest benefits to modern mankind were inventions created out of profit motive and sold to those who thought the product was at least as valuable as the money spent on it.

“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.”

This is a strawman argument that exaggerates and distorts the claims of those who criticize specific government actions and policies. If the government isn’t responsible for the massive national debt, who is? If the president fails to send military aid to a diplomatic mission in Libya, who is responsible? The government is a separate interest, because Americans elect representatives who wield coercive legal authority in order to accomplish Constitutionally authorized ends.

“Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works.”

There is legitimate political opposition in any democratic republic. In a polarized representative government, the deliberative process is implicitly designed to prevent a tyranny of a sheer majority that can force its preferences onto a powerless minority or exploit it for financial and political gain.

“They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

This is an ‘appeal to authority’ argument that ignores that real tyranny has existed in the world and it has been carried out by governments of various forms; many of them popularly elected. Democracies throughout the Middle East tend to be tyrannous; social democracies throughout Europe are increasingly censoring publications and engaging in ruinous policies that infringe on economic freedom. Governments are directly and unmistakably attributable for the deaths of over a hundred million innocent people in the twentieth century alone. That is not to claim that President Obama has designs on becoming a murderous tyrant; but the U.S. Constitution is based on centuries of English legal experience and is explicitly framed to prevent tyranny from developing in America.

“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.”

Self-rule is undeniably the opposite of government by force. The president is also pulling a ‘said no person ever’ kind of argument by posing that we can’t trust ourselves if we don’t trust the government. Statism is also not a revered American tradition, needless to say; although the government has grown immensely and without cessation since the early twentieth century.

The president cannot be allowed to make such specious points and engage in such dangerous and intellectually dishonest rhetoric without rebuttal. Please share this article so others can discuss this address and how it distorts the founding principles of American government.

Originally published at Kyle Becker’s fiction novel Envirotopia is on sale at Sony, Amazon and Kobo.


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