By Judd Gregg - 01/30/12 10:00 AM EST
In the House chamber directly over the dais where President Obama gave his speech Tuesday, there is engraved the Latin phrase, “E Pluribus Unum.”
This was once the de facto motto of the United States — “out of many, one.” It is a good motto, defining our nation’s beginning and our development as a people, chosen by our founding fathers because it captured the purpose of their times.
After listening to Obama’s speech and his earlier definitional talk in Kansas, it can only be concluded that that motto is among the many things he wishes to change about America. It would seem he wishes to replace it with “ex multi dividtur,” which roughly translated would mean, “out of many, we divide.”
It is uniquely ironic that a country that arose out of disgust with the European system of suppressing individual initiative and stratifying people should now have a government led by people who think such a system should be adopted here.
There is an inherent disconnect with the American culture. We have a president who pursues a course of setting groups against other groups. He wishes to amend the American dream, which is based on the idea that people can and will succeed in our society, so that success can only be achieved under a set of rules the president and his people set down as to what is socially correct.
It is reasonable to ask why he is pursuing this strategy, why he wants to set one group upon another in America, why he wants to “occupy” America.
Conventional wisdom suggests it lies in the seminal need the president and his people have to be reelected.
After all, if you are the president and your policies have led to less than 50 percent of the people believing you are doing a good job, and more than 60 percent feel you have put the nation on the wrong track, then you better do something or you probably will not be reelected.
What better approach than to set at least half the people on a path of blaming the other half for their problems and then solidify the group you have persuaded based on envy to vote for you?
This might work. It certainly gives the campaign a purpose: Take no responsibility and show no leadership, but blame someone else and get half the votes of a divided nation.
On innumerable occasions the president has walked away from the responsibility to lead on key issues, whether energy by punting on the Keystone XL pipeline or immigration by failing to secure the borders or ignoring his own commission on deficit reduction. Why lead when you can blame someone else and maybe get reelected in the process?
But reelection is not the real driver of this move to stratify our nation.
This administration looks with great admiration at Europe, where the governments are exponentially larger than ours and dominate the social and cultural lives of their people by excessive intrusiveness.
There is a genuine belief by this president and his people that America is an unjust place. This lack of justice must be addressed, and who better to take on this cause than them?
They do not believe the individual is the driver of culture. They believe they, the governing class, are. They claim to be working to bring social justice to our society, which in their eyes is now too dominated by people who have taken advantage of the American system of markets and enterprise.
They have become the true elite in America, dedicated to settling social justice scores and directing everyone else to follow their rules or else. Louis XIV would have been proud. Or, to paraphrase the words of Barry Goldwater, “envy in the pursuit of power is no vice.”
In fact, we should probably do away with all this Latin and just accept that as the new national motto. Why follow a quaint phrase in a dead language from a bunch of white guys who gathered a long time ago in Philadelphia?
The president and his people have a much better model for us. Just stand aside and let them tell us how America is wrong and immoral and how they will fix it by pitting one group against another and call it the new America, which unfortunately looks uncomfortably close to the old Europe.
Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Foreign Operations. He also is an international adviser to Goldman Sachs.