Last Monday (Oct. 1), Northwestern University Political Union hosted its first debate of the year, asking the controversial question: does President Obama deserve to be re-elected? I eagerly attended the event, with the sole expectation of having a good time. While I knew coming into the debate that the majority of participators would support Obama’s re-election, I was pleasantly surprised by the 15-or-so students who decided to align themselves with reason and deny support for four more years of the downward spiral that is modern-day America.
Political Union debates are rather hit-or-miss. I’ve been to a few in my time at Northwestern; controversial topics always draw a big crowd, and last Monday was no exception. Many students proclaimed their support for Obama, giving excuse after excuse for the President’s ineptitude in dealing with the economy and his ironically neoconservative foreign-policy. During my time at Northwestern I’ve learned to live with the extreme ideological differences between myself and the bulk of my fellow students, so when some participants claimed they no longer support Obama because he has been too moderate I couldn’t help but smile.
It’s no secret that the left likes to blame others for its failures. The last Monday reinforced this fact. Stimulus didn’t work? Republicans wouldn’t allow it to be big enough. Debt through the roof? Republicans won’t let us raise taxes (those crazy rednecks!). Wait a minute. For the first two years in office, Obama had a filibuster-proof Senate and a majority in the House. He had two straight years to shove every piece of his progressive agenda down the throats of the American people. At some point, Obama and his Democrats are going to need to take some responsibility.
Rather than enumerating each and every reason Obama does not deserve to be re-elected, I’d like to instead touch on the broader topic of intellectual honesty that begs mention after what I experienced last Monday.
I truly believe that Northwestern students are high-caliber individuals. Any random student is likely to be at least somewhat intelligent. So, when I witness Northwestern students completely neglecting the clear cut evidence that Obama has not been working for America, the only plausible explanation I can think of is a lack of intellectual honesty. That is, those individuals who are still supporting Obama are doing so blindly and are no different than sheep following their shepherd.
When I introduce someone to one of my libertarian and/or Austrian Economic views, the very first thing I will ask them is: “what statistic or fact, if assumed to be true, would I have to tell you for you to change your opinion on this subject?” If the reply I get is, “there is none,” then talking to this person, trying to change his or her mind, is a waste of time.
Let me provide a hypothetical example to illustrate this: I pick a random Obama supporter and decide to try to explain to them why Obama has been bad for the U.S. economy. The current unemployment rate is hovering around 8% right now–a bad number, but not catastrophic. I ask this Obama the question, “If the current unemployment rate were well above 8%, if it were 12% instead would you still support Obama?” As disheartening as it is, many on the left, including those at the Political Union debate last week, would nod their heads yes to this question. The question that naturally follows is: “how bad would things have to be for you to turn your back on your beloved Obama?” There’s a clear issue with those who would follow the president to the ends of the earth.
The point I’m trying to make here is quite simple. America has not been faring well under Obama’s leadership. Evidence is plentiful that Mr. Obama has not been a good president, but many of his supporters simply turn a blind eye to reality. This is intellectual dishonesty and Northwestern students should not succumb to it. Granted, the liberal media makes it quite hard for the average person to learn the facts of a situation, but I do not believe Northwestern students are average people.
My advice to Obama supporters is applicable in broader contexts as well: Be intellectually honest. Before forming an opinion, think! Educate yourself about the topic, and stay away from presenting opinions on subjects you cannot claim a decent level of understanding (e.g., economics if you’ve never studied). Question the premises of what you believe to be true (e.g., nearly everything you learned in Econ 311 at Northwestern is a lie). Finally, once you’ve formed your opinion, reexamine it (e.g., did Obama really save us from another Great Depression, or did he simply elongate what could been an economic recovery similar to that of the 1980s?).
If you are truly being intellectually honest, then you’ll realize what Clint Eastwood said at the Republican National Convention was spot on. “When somebody does not do the job, we’ve got to let them go.”