Changes to the presidency in recent memory have often meant a shift in ideology. Former President Bill Clinton was a liberal Democrat, but George W. Bush was a neoconservative. The most recent member of the ex-presidents’ club, Barack Obama, began as a progressive Democrat before finding his way to the establishment. While initially staying quiet, he has recently become more vocal in criticizing his successor.
Like many Democrats, Obama seems to believe we’re living in the apocalypse. While President Donald Trump is no limited government politician, he is far from the satanist dictator his opponents make him sound like. Are we living under a power hungry President? Find a President who doesn’t love power.
For a former President who served two terms in the White House, Obama should have a certain level of respect for discourse. Instead, he’s opted for Godwin’s Law. This is a favorite among political opponents who prefer hyperbole to facts. All disagreements must point to Nazism.
In a speech at the Economic Club of Chicago, Obama warned that we must protect democracy or we risk following the path to Nazi Germany. Simple enough, but excessively simple. While a lack of input from the people does lead to dictatorship, the rise of the Nazi regime is more complicated.
For starters, Obama and George W. Bush share a trait that did enable to rise of Nazi Germany. The two previous Presidents, both critics of President Donald Trump, believe that security comes before liberty. Adolf Hitler preyed on the fears of Germans to consolidate power. The Reichstag fire was used to pass the Enabling Acts and help suspend constitutional rights.
Similarly, Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act into law and supported the surveillance state. Americans are facing an unprecedented invasion of privacy, which did not diminish under Obama. If anything, it got worse.
Indefinite detention without due process law and extrajudicial killings also occurred under Bush and Obama. All of these things weaken the integrity of a free nation. Where was Obama’s love for Godwin’s law when he was apart of the problem?
Now obviously there’s no argument that one parallel makes Obama or Bush a Nazi per se, and there’s no credible allegation either man wanted to put Jews or anyone else in concentration camps. But this illustrates the point that Nazi history is complicated. Political opponents have long exploited Nazi history for their own partisan gain, and it’s always shameful.
It’s also hypocritical for Obama to try and take a stand, when he endorsed big government policies that helped to shrink the power and voice of the people. Being a more likable guy who got along with reporters doesn’t make him any more or less of a tyrant than someone like President Trump or Bush. If anything, Obama paved the way for Trump to have more illicit control with his own power-grabs. He is far from blameless in any sense.
We’ve lived the slow death of democracy for a long time. Big government has been an issue for decades and across administrations. We should absolutely guard the liberty of the American republic from all tyranny, regardless of party. We must also avoid calling mere political opponents something they’re not. Godwin’s law is for political children, internet warriors and armchair philosophers. A former President of the United States should be a little more intellectual.