In his commencement speech to University of Michigan graduates, President Obama quoted one of the Founders saying that America was a republic. Immediately thereafter he claimed—either ignorantly or dishonestly—that America was instead a democracy and that Americans must do two things in order to keep it.

“American democracy has thrived,” he said, “because we have recognized the need for a government that, while limited, can still help us adapt to a changing world.” Although Obama did not specify the ways in which government should be limited, he did detail how it has “helped” Americans adapt.

“When we transitioned from an economy based on farms to one based on factories, and workers needed new skills and training, our nation set up a system of public high schools,” he said, not mentioning that our government-run schools can be considered a success only if their goal is to graduate vast numbers of people who can neither read nor think.

“When the markets crashed during the Depression and people lost their life savings,” Obama continued, “our government put in place a set of rules and safeguards to make sure that such a crisis never happened again.” He failed to mention that government intervention in the economy caused and exacerbated not only the Great Depression but also numerous crises since.

The government also “put a safety net in place to make sure that our elders would never be impoverished the way they had been,” Obama said, neglecting to point out that Social Security is bankrupt and that, with the passing of government-run health care, our elders will have to convince bureaucrats that their life is worth the cost of the surgery that their doctor recommends.

Obama correctly noted that the trend toward this “democracy” is bi-partisan and that Republicans have instituted many large-scale government programs. This led to his next point.

“[The] second way to keep our democracy healthy is to maintain a basic level of civility in our public debate. . . . You can question somebody’s views or judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism.” Obama did not here repeat his remark that the Tea Party movement is “un-American.”

“Throwing around phrases like ‘socialists’ and ‘Soviet-style takeover’ and ‘fascist’ and ‘right-wing nut’ . . . may grab headlines,” he continued. “but it also has the effect of comparing our government . . . to authoritarian, even murderous regimes.” The problem with such labels is that they close “the door to the possibility of compromise.” They make it nearly impossible “for people who have legitimate but bridgeable differences to sit down at the table and hash things out.” This, of course, was intended to intimidate Republicans away from calling him what he in fact is and toward helping him accomplish more of his statist goals.

Will Republicans cower, compromise, and “hash things out” with Obama? Or will they grow a spine, call a statist a statist, and defend Americans from tyranny? Will they stand again for the American Republic that is their namesake? Or will they help Obama drive the country further into the “democracy” that is already violating Americans’ rights in countless ways?

What would the Founders have done?

Image: Wiki Commons

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