Although rarely mentioned, the Obama Era saw civil liberties flagrantly violated, just as his predecessors have done.
February 22, 2017
The election of Donald J. Trump as the next President of the United States this past November sent shock-waves echoing throughout the political world, spectrum and halls of power. For many on the right this surprise result brought either relief and joyous praise or fearful bewilderment. On the left the consensus was far more united and adamant. Newly elected Trump was and is a threat to all values held by this country and in many ways this fear could be proven true, however perhaps the very fact one man’s election could threaten all of these very ideals should actually prove that the office of the executive holds far too much power.
Naturally of course, this logical consistency exists nowhere on the left, as to recognize this flaw and blatant disregard for the separation of powers would require them to then further acknowledge the innumerable failures of the Obama Administration and the overreaches undertaken by it that could now be utilized by the Trump Administration. Barack Obama was not the Jesus Christ of the United States, but rather in fact he merely continued Bush Era policies in a more articulate and compassionate sounding manner. Ultimately, in relativity the Obama legacy may not be the worst in this country’s history, but to any students of civil liberties it will be one of the largest violators of the their solemn Constitutional enshrinement.
In 2008 the young Senator Barack Obama campaigned behind the notion that he stood for peace and against the current Middle Eastern wars the Bush Administration had waged and in fact this hood wink continues to this day, as many in the so-called “antiwar left,” who ceased to exist during Obama’s presidency, now claim that his tenure was one of peace and a reduction in military involvement around the world. The facts however would tell a far different story. Obama’s reign ended with him being the only sitting president to manage being at war for every day of both of his terms, and was he ever once protested by those who raged against Bush’s illegal wars? Not once. He may not have invaded any countries whole scale, but he did manage to authorize the bombing of more countries than George W. Bush ever did and in only the year 2016 deployed U.S. Special Forces to 138 different countries in the world while also dropping a whopping 26,000 bombs according to the DoD. Obama supported the attempt to bomb freedom into Libya and even tried the old “they have WMDs” move with Syria to push for large U.S. involvement. Ironically enough when this measure was overwhelmingly rejected by American citizens ISIS soon emerged. It then became more popular to blatantly increase American presence in the earth’s most oil rich region. Again. Nothing says being pro-peace like bombing democracy into other people’s countries.
Continuing his implementation of Bush Era policies and failures, Obama also allowed the flow of American weapons and money to flow into terrorist hands, arguing forcefully before Congress to increase funding and aide sent to “moderate” rebel groups in Syria. Groups that intelligence services have already accused of colluding with ISIS and even supplying them. American’s were confounded to see ISIS fighters driving American Humvees and carrying M-16s, meanwhile their president presided over the continued sale of this items to the very groups they were intended to fight. Similarly, President Obama drastically scaled up the usage of drones in a lethal capacity, killing thousands in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, often with massive collateral damage, with some independent estimates citing his drone strikes did more damage to civilians than the manned fighter strikes they were meant to replace. Hundreds of children maimed or having witnessed their families blown to pieces are now growing up with the only image of the United States being one of a hidden evil ready to kill at any moment, raining death from the skies.
Rewind over fifty years ago and Democrats marched for ideals such as free speech, warrants and restrained lethal force at the hands of the government. Fast forward to today where Berkley students burn down their own campus and beat other human beings into pulps for the sake of differing ideals, such formerly liberal civil liberties are no longer important to the left, and were certainly not held in any regard by their dear former leader Barack Obama. It is no secret that Obama utilized drones to kill thousands in the Middle East, including authorizing the lethal removal of such threatening enemy formations as funerals, weddings and even a Doctors without Borders hospital, all of which were obviously in desperate need for a little bit of freedom. However, in 2011 he also expanded the usage of drones to U.S. citizens, who can now be assassinated without due process should it be deemed necessary for “national security.”
Desiring to be consistent for his distaste of warrant and judicial approval, President Obama also presided over the continuation of the largest surveillance state known in human history. As leaked by Edward Snowden, the NSA expanded to record and if interested read any and all digital communications and even audio files from people’s personal devices, all while the executive did nothing to curb such overreach. Where liberals at one time would have been furious for a McCarthyite to do such a thing, when it occurred under their poster-child’s watch no issue was raised. The mass surveillance continues and Obama even continued to press for Snowden to be charged with treason until the end of his presidency. For a president who also did an admirable job of raising awareness for police abuse of power, he also sold them an awful lot of military grade weapons including grenades, M4s and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPS) which are essentially small tanks. Perfectly necessary to protect and serve, right? Since 2009, over 10,000 Americans have been killed by police and for a man who claimed to love immigrants more than those darn racist Republicans, Obama’s ICE and DoJ deported more illegal immigrants than any other past president.
President Obama took office coming into one of the deepest recessions to strike the American and global economies since the Great Depression in 1929. Proving decisively that Republicans are the party of the rich, Obama quickly sent billions in bailout funds the GM and other auto manufactures, largely to garner union votes, and sent even more hundreds of billions to failed insurance and mortgage brokers on Wall Street who had contributed the most to the crisis. Because obviously the rich should be rewarded for their failures and criminality by receiving money take involuntarily from the middle class. Under him the Federal Reserve continued to add trillions in unbacked and untraceable assets and currency to its balance sheets, with billions more in free credit being extended to Wall Street. As a result the Stock Market did rebound, however only for those already at the top of it. The gross corporate earnings across the country tripled and the richest brackets of Americans continued to see their wealth increase, while all other saw their paychecks stagnating and purchasing power being eaten up by a dollar now worth 96% than it was in 1913. Also the growth in Obama’s recovery has been anemic due to the large regulatory burdens he has imposed measuring in at a consistent 100 billion dollar drain on an annual basis, thus stemming from increasing wealth for the wealthy but little being created for anyone else.
Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, saw the ever complicated American health care system become even more complex, as premiums soared across the country for most Americans at the cost of adding 20 million new insurees with no corresponding increase in doctors, nurses or quality of care. In fact millions of people simply opted to pay the fine rather than enroll in the exchanges, which begs the question how is fining someone for not having health insurance making it more affordable for them? Drug prices have also soared as the FDA had prosecuted generic brands religiously and allows only existing paten holders to manufacture select drugs, all while also prosecuting cannabis as a criminal offense. Obama oversaw crony capitalism at its finest, all while persecuting it for “lack of government oversight.”
Now, regardless of all that has been mentioned in lieu of Obama’s failures, there are some benefits to liberty that were seen during his reign. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed, good riddance this was a stupid policy to begin with. Relations with Cuba were restored, holding to the Jeffersonian Doctrine of trade with all nations entangling alliances with none, this was a logical step although perhaps too cautiously executed. Obama commuted more nonviolent offender sentences than any other president, an admirable and worthwhile extension of power, although he should have done more to combat the Drug War’s founding legislation. Lastly, and perhaps his most emotionally charged achievement, or at least it occurred during his presidency, was the legalization of gay marriage. The end result of government not regulation adult relations is good, however this was undertaken in a very divisive manner and unless individuals are protected in their free religious exercise and from state coercion this very well could result in violations of liberty in the name of supposedly protecting it, which is itself an unallowable paradox.
Former President Barack Obama witnessed the devolution of the left from anti-war free speech and civil liberty advocates to pandering sheep who saw no wrong in his presidency because he was the first African American president and could therefore do no wrong. After all, they had said Republicans were racist for opposing him and if they had stood against his violations of liberal principles they themselves would have been racist, using that logic. Obama also saw a massive expansion in the powers of the executive, something both Democrats and Republicans love, as long as their candidate is in office, otherwise they all of a sudden care about the Constitution. All in all, the next time someone is freaking out about Donald Trump’s access to drones or his ability to spy on you whenever and wherever you are, just remember to thank Barack Obama for setting them up for him.