There were wrongdoings by the Obama Administration in the Benghazi consulate attacks, the IRS targeting of political groups, the Department of Justice seizure of Press records, the NSA spying controversy, and other events. Just as all Presidencies have their own controversies, the Obama Administration is no different. Aside from correcting a handful of policies and bad decisions, these incidences must be thoroughly investigated in order to lessen the likelihood and significance of future occurrences while resolving the underlying issues that resulted in these wrongdoings.
Unfortunately, pundits and politicians have a tendency of using these incidences to further their brand of politics, often hypocritically. In recent years, the Republicans have gone to a whole new extreme in terms of its criticism of the Left and Middle thanks to abrupt shifts in the electorate away from increasingly extreme Right wing views and an overreaction to valid criticisms of the George W Bush Administration’s many far more serious controversies. On the Left, valid criticism is either listlessly addressed or met with overreactions. The overall trend is toward a political establishment that simply reacts with bluster instead of deep analysis, critical discussion, and real solutions.
Looking at the fundamental reasons why the IRS was targeting groups with words like Tea Party, Patriot, Freedom, Occupy, etc. in their names, there are an increasing number of such groups that are intertwined with candidates and political parties. Because the influence of big money in elections is a serious issue, these connections raise serious red flags. While all involved groups were eligible for tax exemptions, the disclosure of donors is required to stem unwanted political influence. Some of these self-proclaimed 501C organizations are simply political party affiliated groups trying to the game system. Regrettably, it can be difficult to discern between independent and candidate groups without asking intrusive questions. That said, the IRS erred by using the most obvious, simplest solution instead of developing a less intrusive, more sophisticated method that would address political sensitivities.
In many respects, the IRS incident is an example of our government’s lack of will and capacity to respond to a highly dynamic world filled with emerging threats to our democracy. Similarly, the DOJ seizure of Press emails and records demonstrates a government that is overwhelmed by novel and growing threats. In trying to address an enormous security leaks, the government overreached when it failed to sufficiently demonstrate the First Amendment Press protection no longer applied before acting. In both cases, the need to protect political speech was ignored in pursuit of wrongdoers.
Taking into account the ongoing unrest in the Middle East, and massive shifts in global power, the Benghazi consulate attack represents another example of the US government overwhelmed by the myriad of rapidly developing changes in our society. Instead of risking a potential political disaster and confronting mistakes and oversights, the Obama Administration fumbled, thus allowing the Right to use the incident to shape the image of the Obama Presidency as dishonest. In short, there is so much fear of doing wrong that it creates wrongs. Whether mistakes were made due to a simple failure to recognize and respond a potential threat or an effort to secure sensitive information, the ongoing political response to the Benghazi situation offers no real insights and appears to be little more than political warfare.
Meanwhile, the NSA spying controversy has been somewhat of a welcome distraction for the Obama Administration as the fairly independent agency can take all the heat for their misdoings while the Administration can stand for national security, call for a national “discussion” on the issue, and criticize the actions of whistleblowers and foreign leaders without any real political consequences. Unfortunately, the issue actually demonstrates a lack of control over our own government and our inability to address national security, as well as international threats, without violating rights and causing greater problems. Instead of solving problems, our political leaders are shielding them from criticism.
Reviewing America’s recent history without regard to what party and what person held the Office of the President, there is an emerging trend of stagnation and an inability to adapt to our new social environment. The US government is failing to adapt to a world where global power is no longer shared between the two superpowers of the US and USSR. We live in a multipolar world where action by “the superpower” will only be effective when the global community accepts those actions, i.e. the international community is democratizing as a community of nations and as individual nations. Meanwhile, technology is also rapidly shifting the means by which traditional powers exert their wills. Unfortunately, the US government and other powers are too wrapped up in their own internal conflicts to pursue their interests domestically and globally.
In the case of the current scandals, the Right is simply using these events as political weapons while the Left is running around like a chicken with its head cutoff trying to make old solutions work and hypocritically denying they share many of the same faults as the Right. (That said, the inverse is true when the Republicans are in power.) What we need to recognize is that the US government is failing to properly address competing US interests, i.e. national security and civil liberties in terms of the current examples. In fact, there is a trend of governments around the world toward over focusing on security risks and breeches by violating rights instead of addressing both sets of interests. Similarly, the interest in protecting our electoral system against corruption from the IRS, in this case, either goes unaddressed or is addressed without regard to the interests of those whose voices are being crowded out by overspending by outsiders in campaigns. Moreover, government needs to stop reacting in the wake of engineered crises and start responding in order to solve problems by developing solutions that address all of the interests involved in the issues.
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