With the reelection of President Obama, we may venture to make a few predictions about the near-term future. Of course, the president is only one element in a political system whose partisan makeup has changed little in this latest Election That Matters. The House remains in Republican hands and the Senate remains Democratic. Republicans have picked up a few governorships, but a number of ballot initiatives popular with Democrats — the legalization of so-called same-sex marriage in Maine and Maryland, for instance — passed. If this election is any indication, Americans in the aggregate are content with the status quo (which, as the late cartoonist Jeff MacNelly once quipped, is “Latin for ‘the mess we’re in’”).
What are we to expect from a second Obama term? Simply put, more of the same, but with tax hikes. In his first term in office, President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress have shown themselves to be shrewd pragmatists, continuing all of the important planks in the bipartisan program that has propelled America toward receivership and post-constitutional rule for several generations. And these planks were espoused with equal enthusiasm by candidate Mitt Romney, as they have been by every Republican candidate and president from Thomas Dewey onward. Pared down to their essence, these planks amount to three realms of orthodoxy that the leadership of neither party is permitted to question. These realms are foreign policy, financial policy, and the expansion of federal government power at the expense of state and local government and individual freedom of choice.
No Change There
U.S. foreign policy has changed little since the end of World War I, except that the U.S. Congress, in defiance of President Woodrow Wilson and the establishment, refused, in the wake of that ruinous conflict, to authorize entry into the League of Nations, an organization that was perceived correctly as a precursor to world government that would require the United States to give up a large amount of sovereignty. But with U.S. entry into the United Nations, which replaced the League of Nations at the end of World War II, the die was cast. And from that day to this, no U.S. president — and precious few even in Congress — has challenged U.S. membership in the UN. With recent presidencies, starting with George H. W. Bush, who sought authorization for the Gulf War from the UN Security Council, the United States has come to defer more and more to UN authority on matters of war and peace. President Obama has certainly been no exception, waging war on Libya only upon securing UN authorization for limited hostilities, and refraining from intervening in Syria for want of a Security Council mandate. The rightness or wrongness of such interventionist activities aside, the point is that the U.S. government, for all practical purposes, has ceded its authority over war and peace to an unelected international body.
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