What would George Washington think? – Obama’s Crimea comment
It certainly doesn’t sound good. First, dismissing the result of an election in which people voted in favor of the will of a “democratic leader” for whom no one voted. Second, claiming an election is illegal under the chimerical idea of “international law.” Which I understand in this instance was brought into being by a pen and a phone belonging to the President of these United States as he stared at the full moon over the Capitol.
What would George Washington think? What would Martin Luther King think? If Obama is indeed bending the arc of history, as he likes to say he is, it is beginning to look a lot like a whip.
Just listen to him: About the will of the inhabitants of Crimea, he said, “In 2014 we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”
Over the heads of “democratic leaders?” Que pasa, Conchita? Has someone been slipping testosterone into your Cheerios?
I should point out that I’ve lived in Russia, and there is something actually very sweet about Russians’ dog-like obedience. I love dogs, so this is honestly not an insult. Someone who drove a car for me in Moscow was extremely proud that, once upon a time, he had actually “carried oil documents” from one place to another. Oil = power. To be near power, and to serve it, is the greatest pleasure a Russian can have.
The Russian families who were not serfs were largely killed in the Soviet Union, and, taking a broader view of history, the word “slave” comes from “slav” (or, arguably, vice versa). Slavs are born slaves. Blind irrational obedience to Mother Russia is in the Russian blood. Nationalism. Anyone who thinks that most Russians in Crimea don’t want to be part of Russia has never lived in Russia.
It might be bad, it might be un-American, it might not float your boat. I’ve heard Crimeans reported as saying they wanted to be part of Russia as their pensions will double. Hey, they’re not Sam Adams. They’re not Paul Revere. But certainly, as a people, they at least have the right to decide to whom they want to be slaves.
It is a free world, isn’t it? Or, at least, isn’t that what we’re supposed to be promoting abroad? If slavs choose to be slaves to Mother Russia, it’s their choice. Yet Obama claims they have to “obey” their “democratic leaders.” Who? Him? Who is he talking about?
“Democracy,” the last I checked, is derived from demos, loosely translated as the vulgar canaille, the mob who approve of Lady Gaga’s vomit stunts, or those Russians in Crimea who voted for the referendum for Russia. That’s what democracy looks like, baby.
Democracy might be ugly, but it has a pretty clear definition going back a few thousand years. “Obeying” “democratic leaders” is about as antithetically Orwellian as any phrase I’ve ever heard seriously said.
America, of course, should never have a leader, only executives who execute the will of the mob, restrained by the Constitution. (That, in a genuine democracy any “leader” might serve the demos unrestrained by clear guidelines protecting individual rights, incidentally, is why we started as a constitutional republic, the primary purpose of which was to protect individuals from the will of the majority, historically the worst tyrant of all.)
George Washington, who was the president of these United States, but definitively not our “leader” or “Your Majesty” or any of the other things that some people wanted to call him, believed it was unethical for a president, as a general rule, even to express publicly his opinion about a law that Congress was considering. His role, confined to the “executive” branch, was solely to obey the will of the congress, and thus the people.
He never imagined that he should “lead” the country, anymore than a sheriff would think he ought to “lead” the rural county of which he is sheriff. What would you think if your sheriff arrested you for breaking “international law” that he had divined late the previous evening by staring at the full moon. To “execute” the will of the people, while protecting individual rights – that is what any executive does. His job is to follow, and never, ever in America, to be a “leader.”
So, what would George Washington think of Obama’s comment on Crimea? He’d think it was as un-American as King George, or…well….or…well…Orwell?!?
The only countries in which “democracies” have “leaders” who must be obeyed are places such as The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (a democracy and a republic – two Orwellian phrases in one!), along with, sadly, the current incarnation of The United States.
Surely, one hopes, not in relatively free countries, such as Crimea.
Austin Washington is the descendant of two of George Washington’s brothers, and is the author of The Education of George Washington.