Obama's Disdain for Democracy and Free Expression - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Obama’s Disdain for Democracy and Free Expression

Last week, we learned that the White House has been pressuring Google to censor a video about Muhammad because it has allegedly incited violence in Libya. Google refused, but the very request is a useful reminder of the President’s disdain for the democratic process and the principles of free expression upon which it stands. It suggests that, even if his policies were not a catalogue of failure, giving him another term would constitute a clear and present danger to the republic. Time after time, given the choice between accepting the will of the people and clinging to his own agenda, he has chosen the latter. Again and again, given the choice between political expediency and freedom of speech, Obama has chosen the former.

Ironically, one of the most brazen examples of the President’s propensity to ignore the wishes of the electorate occurred just recently at the Democratic National Convention. I refer, of course, to the infamous floor vote that resulted in the reinsertion of the words “God” and “Jerusalem” in the Democratic-party platform. Obama and his accomplices belatedly realized that the absence of those words would be a liability during the final weeks of the election season, so they ordered their hapless convention chair to remedy the problem. But a funny thing happened when Antonio Villaraigosa tried to nail down these two seemingly innocuous planks to the platform — he couldn’t get the Democrat delegates to cooperate.

We have all seen the video. Villaraigosa called for a voice vote on the platform change, which required the assent of a two-thirds majority, but the delegates confounded him by responding with as many “no” votes as “ayes.” After trying twice more and getting the identical result, Villaraigosa issued an arbitrary ruling that conformed to the wishes of his party bosses rather than the clearly expressed preference of the convention delegates. Most conservative commentators have used this episode as an opportunity to highlight the increasingly militant secularism of the Democrat party, but this aspect of the vote is far less important than what the incident says about how Obama and his DNC stooges regard the democratic process.

The obvious legislative corollary is the process that produced Obamacare. In 2008, most voters were in favor of health reform, but very few envisioned anything resembling the intrusive, job-killing, regulatory monstrosity that Obama and his congressional allies had in mind. Indeed, when the voters realized what the Democrats were up to, they organized huge public demonstrations against it. They even put a Republican in the Senate seat formerly occupied by Ted Kennedy based on a promise to oppose Obamacare. These things meant nothing to Obama. He behaved as if the voters were so many dull-witted children and signed a health care “reform” law that still remains astonishingly unpopular with the public.

In addition to ignoring the will of the people, the story of Obama’s disdain for the democratic process includes active intimidation of organizations and individuals who dare to exercise their First Amendment right to speak out against his policies. In fact, his goons have recently gone so far as to threaten polling organizations that report surveys that fail to conform to the Democrat party line. Obama administration behavior toward the Gallup organization is an unsettling case in point: “Employees at the venerable Gallup polling firm suggested they felt threatened by Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod when he questioned the methodology of a mid-April poll showing Mitt Romney leading the president.”

Axelrod took issue with a Gallup survey that showed Romney leading Obama 48-43 percent, claiming that the pollster had used outdated sampling methods. Members of the Gallup staff were invited to visit the White House and explain the methodology they had used in their survey: “A Gallup official said in an email he thought Axelrod’s pressure ‘sounds a little like a Godfather situation.… I’d like you to come over and explain your methodology.… You got a nice poll there … would be a shame if anything happened to it.'” When Gallup declined to accept this gracious “invitation,” the Obama Justice Department suddenly revived an old, essentially dormant lawsuit against the polling organization.

This kind of behavior is no mere symptom of poor judgment created by the overheated atmosphere of an election campaign. Obama and his crew of thugs have been attempting to crush free expression since they took power. In the fall of 2009, during the debate over Obamacare, Health and Human Services Commissar Kathleen Sebelius launched a campaign of intimidation against the insurance industry by issuing a legally dubious gag order to 189 private-sector corporations. Through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which operates under the aegis of HHS, she directed all insurance carriers offering Medicare Advantage plans to stop communicating with their customers about the potential impact of “reform.”

Another attempt by the administration to crush dissent during the Obamacare debate occurred in August of 2009, when a post appeared on the White House blog encouraging Americans to snitch on their fellow citizens for circulating e-mails containing “fishy” information about the President’s evolving health “reform” initiative: “There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there.… These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”

This email address was soon deactivated after Michelle Malkin and countless other conservative bloggers organized the “go flag yourself” campaign, in which Obamacare opponents bombarded the White House with e-mails reporting themselves as disseminators of “fishy” information. This did not, however, discourage the Obama administration from continuing to troll for information about ObamaCare heresy. They subsequently set up another site, ironically named “Reality Check,” that provided yet another contact address (www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/contact) to which Obamazombies were encouraged to send “feedback” regarding “what new misinformation is bubbling up online or in other venues.”

More recently, the administration’s fear of free expression resulted in the truly ridiculous “Attack Watch” site, which the Washington Post pronounced the “laughing stock” of the Internet. But the authoritarian impulse behind such efforts is not funny. Obama and his apparatchiks regard “small d” democracy as an obstacle that must be overcome in order to “fundamentally transform” the United States. Every time they are permitted to impose their agenda on the unwilling members of their own party, shove an unpopular program down the collective throat of the electorate or intimidate those with the temerity to disagree or even publish data and videos inconsistent with Obama’s policies, that obstacle erodes a little.

If Obama is permitted to remain President for another four years, the obstacle that now stands between us and the soft tyranny of the all powerful nanny state will become like Hadrian’s wall — a crumbling relic from a bygone era abandoned by the people who built it because they ultimately deemed its defense less important than other, ostensibly more pressing priorities.

David Catron
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David Catron is a recovering health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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