"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times...and then just expect that other countries are going to say 'OK'...That's not leadership. That's not going to happen."
This was a statement made by Senator Obama last week during a campaign stop in Oregon and, not surprisingly, it didn't get a whole lot of press coverage. I think it should have because I think this statement says a lot about Obama's mindset and how he views America. One has to ask: What is he saying here?
For a moment you may think that he is trying to solidify the radical Left vote. These are the true hate-America folks. These are the ones who think that America is bad and will always be until we voluntarily surrender our global role as economic, political and military superpower while also transferring our wealth to the third world. These are the folks who love Obama's above statement. But, in truth, he already has them solidly in his corner. It's been a long time since the kooks have been so fired up over a candidate. So there's no need to pander to them with dumb statements like this...unless Obama really meant what he said, and then we have a problem. In that case, Obama may be grouping himself with those folks, and that makes me a bit nervous.
Before I get into all that, I want to make a few points so that my readers can soak up Obama's words with the proper perspective, something other than "America is the root of all evil". First, the US economy is the largest in the world. No other country even comes close. And since our economy is so big, that means that we have the greatest impact on global markets. As our economy goes, so goes the world. Consumerism is a big part of our economy. Strong consumers mean a strong economy, which means a strong global market. So maybe Obama shouldn't be too critical of America's spenders. This is a simplification, of course, but you get the basic point.
Second, the US is the world's leading food producer, again by a wide margin. Today, most of the world's nations depend on food imports to feed their people so, again, if our economy goes bad then many bad things will happen to many people worldwide. Third, America is the most charitable nation in the world. For example, private American citizens gave $1.8 billion in tsunami aid, dwarfing what any government, including the US government, contributed. We gave $78 million in earthquake aid to Pakistan, at a time when that nation has been less-than-cooperative in the war on terror. Annually, private American citizens donate one-quarter of a trillion dollars to charity, and this DOES NOT include what's given at their places of worship. This kindness is unprecedented in human history. No other group of private citizens has ever been so generous with their time and money. Suggesting we are gluttonous and greedy is unfair.
And fourth, let's not forget the other sacrifice we make for the world, that of giving our sons and daughters for liberty. We send our soldiers to die so that other people, who sometimes don't even like or appreciate us, can have freedom. Every person on this planet who lives in freedom does so because of the blood and treasure sacrifice of the American military. This is a simple fact that is all-too-often overlooked or forgotten. Now, back to the Senator's comment.
As I said, for a moment it appears that Obama considers his fellow Americans to be gluttonous, greedy and selfish. He appears to have a problem with our consumerism and he opposes our behavior for the sake of America being more appealing to "other countries".
In light of the fact that we drive the world's economy (where would China be without the American consumer?), feed the world with our crops, protect the world with our soldiers and bring aid to the world in times of need, I personally think that the approval from other countries is a given. If it's not, then we're probably talking about countries that are unappreciative, are basic enemies of America, seek to weaken us, are themselves very greedy, or simply just don't like us and probably never will. In that case, why care if they are "OK" with our lifestyle? Chances are they won't approve of us regardless of what we do. So what's Obama saying?
Well, if you know his political philosophy (and sadly many of his supporters don't) then you know that he is very much a government-solve-the-problem kind of guy, which again bothers me given the above statement. So I think he's driving at government action here. I'm wondering if Obama is somehow suggesting that we should regulate (through some governmental way) what kind of vehicles people drive, how much they eat, and how much energy they consume at home. You can decide that for yourself.
At any rate, Obama apparently thinks the world doesn't like us and, despite my facts, he seems to understand and empathize with them. Again, you can decide whether or not to agree. And don't worry, I won't ask what Obama's thermostat sits on at home, even though I'm sure it's not higher than 72 degrees.
Americans consume a lot, that's true. But we also produce a lot. So I'd say our consumption falls within the "our fair share" range of things. And we donate MUCH more than our fair share, especially considering the lives we give for others around the world. In light of this, all in all I'd say the "other countries" of the world come out pretty good in the deal. Obama thinks we should back off and consume less than our fair share so these other countries will approve of us. I guess that will be up to the voters.