This is What Bumper-sticker Leadership Looks Like

bumperStickerEven with all of the infighting and philosophical differences currently going on inside the Republican party, it’s pretty safe to say that the one thing that unites right-leaning thinkers is this country is a strong opposition President Obama’s mind-numbing expansion of the size and scope of the federal government. We understand how it’s hurting this country, and we recognize that the president’s policies, decisions, and neglect are steadily taking us down a European road of ruin.

There are some who believe that the decline of our nation is the product of purposeful management. In fact, I’ve heard a number of people insist that it is President Obama’s disdain for the history and traditions of this country that has compelled him to intently neuter the power of the United States. They believe he wants to make us less significant on the world stage, and that he recognizes that the best way to manage our slow, steady decay is to bury us under insurmountable debt and dependency. It’s his way of teaching this country a lesson.

I don’t buy that. I do believe that President Obama would prefer that the United States be less influential in world matters. There’s plenty of evidence to conclude that he truly does favor the idea of America “leading from behind.” However, I don’t think that our nation’s insolvency is the planned endgame of his social justice crusade.

No, I think the true explanation isn’t quite as sinister or conspiratorial, though the end result isn’t any less harmful. I’m of the opinion that Barack Obama simply approaches his role as our president with what I’ll call bumper-sticker leadership.

What is bumper-sticker leadership? It’s when someone addresses serious, complicated issues with mere expressionism.

Let me explain…

While driving along a road, or maybe as you’re walking through a parking lot, have you ever spotted a bumper-sticker that really spoke to you – one that summed up exactly what you believe on a particular topic in a very simple but profound way? I know I have.

In fact, I noticed one just the other day that I thought was pretty brilliant. It read, “Ask not what your country can take from other people and give to you.” It was a sharp take-off of the classic JFK line with a modern-day, pro-individualist spin. Though the driver was a complete stranger to me, he managed to earn some legitimacy in my eyes because of his implied, philosophical view of the role government in our society.

But really, beyond the sticker, I didn’t know a thing about the driver. I didn’t know if he was a good-hearted, honest person. I didn’t know if he was a responsible, law-biding individual. I didn’t know if he was trustworthy and competent. And I didn’t know anything about what he had achieved throughout his life. Those are the kinds of things that define an individual… not some clever idiom.

The same distinction can apply to leadership.

When I look at Barack Obama’s performance as our president over the past five years, I don’t see a man who has defined himself as a leader. I see a man who has essentially relied on attractive slogans and broad theory to earn legitimacy. And in the eyes of the mainstream media and a good portion of the American public, that’s all it’s taken. In some cases, that contentment can be explained by shared ideology. In other cases, it can be attributed to pure laziness.

Really, President Obama is like one of those cars you see from time to time that has a plethora of bumper-stickers plastered all over its body. With so many messages and witticisms on display, there’s always a good chance that some of them are going to draw favor with onlookers. But if you bother to peel away at those stickers, like the media and a lot of unengaged Americans have been reluctant to do with our president, you’re most likely going to find a clunker of a car underneath.

The Obama-method for governing appears to be the practice of throwing out some broad proclamation about addressing a problem, with the expectation being that the proclamation alone will somehow magically result in that problem being taken care of. And not only will it be taken care of… It will also be done so in an effective, efficient way.

That’s not leadership. That’s narcissism and gross irresponsibility.

We’ve seen major problems arise from this. We have an incoherent foreign policy that includes our government routinely seeming to first learn of significant unrest overseas at the same time the rest of us do. Four and a half years after the Great Recession ended, we still have an economy and employment situation that can’t find solid footing. We’re drowning in debt, we’re no longer respected by other countries because we lack credibility, we’re not dealing with soaring energy prices, and it’s all because bumper-sticker leadership does not solve problems.

The latest example of this is all of the disastrous implementation problems we’re continuing to see with Obamacare. The creation of the Affordable Care Act was predicated on the simple notion that everyone deserves access to affordable healthcare. I don’t doubt that Obama’s intent in signing the bill into law was to bring that idea to fruition. The problem is that the extent of President Obama’s leadership on this very serious issue of healthcare reform never went beyond that of knee-jerk instinct and self-righteousness.

We often refer to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare” because President Obama was the one who spearheaded healthcare reform as a key component of his first-term agenda. But the truth is that all he really did was throw out a motto. The concoction of the actual bill was delegated entirely to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other dimwits in the Democratic majorities in congress.

The president himself was too busy being a progressive visionary and demonizing his opposition to be bothered with the details and ramifications of what actually went into the bill. And I don’t think he could have cared less about those things anyway. Obama clearly believes there isn’t any cost that outweighs a perceived benefit. There isn’t any reality that negates a well-intentioned notion. All he cared about was his name going into the history books as the signer of a big government solution to healthcare.

That’s all that mattered.

Even if you overlook the numerous shady deals and joyrides on Air-Force One that took place in order to get enough votes to pass the bill, the rhetoric that was used in selling it the public was very telling. President Obama himself told a number of falsities, like the bill being deficit neutral, people’s premiums not rising, and that everyone would get to stick with their current insurance providers. And yet, I’m not even convinced that he was actually lying. Willful ignorance fuels bumper-sticker leadership. I honestly believe that the president thought that merely saying these things would actually make them happen when the law was implemented.

Of course, that mindset isn’t grounded in reality. So now, our country is stuck with a nonsensical, 2,000-page law that is unaffordable to Americans, unsustainable to our economy, unmanageable by our government, and staggeringly detrimental to the quality of our healthcare. And everyone, including those in the administration, knows that it’s an absolute train wreck.

The only reason the law hasn’t been repealed for the sake of the country, is because of the enormous embarrassment that it would cause to the Obama administration and those in congress who invested their political capital in it . And because of that monstrously costly need to save face, we’re already seeing the self-implosion of the law being incomprehensibly blamed by the left on those dirty, Republican obstructionists.

It’s totally ridiculous. From a Dead Sleep - by John A. Daly

George Will said it well on ABC’s This Week last Sunday: “What Obamacare requires for it to work – mass irrationality.”

When a law’s implementation relies on mass irrationality, what exactly is the honest justification for keeping it around? It’s an absolute mess, and it’s going to cause a lot of pain.

Unfortunately for the American public, no number of “Yes We Did!” bumper-stickers is going to change that.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration (Computer Information Systems), and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. He is the author of the Sean Coleman Thriller series, which is available through all major retailers. John lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
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  • Wheels55

    The Yes We Can slogan was very clever. It didn’t say Yes We Will or even Yes We Intend To. Just that we can.
    Obama’s new bumper sticker should be “Let someone else do it”. He is the laziest President ever.

    • Darren Perkins

      Irresponsible moreso than lazy. He’s got lots of work ethic. He’s worked extremely hard to subvert the constitution and oppress his political enemies to the detriment of his duty to lead the country.

  • David W. Hunter

    Mr. Daly, I agree with your assessment of our President. However, If more than half of our country is gullible enough to reelect the man, is there really any hope for any of us?

    • John Daly

      Don’t think so. :(

      • Darren Perkins

        If only we could make it illegal for liberals to breed! (Just a joke) lol!

  • Darren Perkins

    Very insightful post. You almost had me believing that Obama is just incompetent. Almost. Then I remember his stated goal of fundamentally transforming our nation. He’s actually doing quite well when you consider the goal. Obamacare was never intended to do anything but utterly destroy our current healthcare system. This is an engineered and well planned trainwreck intended to cause a crisis that the government would have to save us from with a single payer system. They just need to delay it until after midterms in order to retain democratic seats.

    • John Daly

      Oh, I have no doubt that he wanted to transform the nation (and that’s certainly happening), but I don’t think it was his intent to do so by trashing the nation and making us insolvent.

      Like I said, I truly believe that he doesn’t understand that there is no such thing as a benefit without cost. He naively buys in to the notion that our country can afford to spend exuberantly, give people lots of stuff (when they didn’t work for it), and somehow that bill is just going to be paid off (by evil rich people) at some point, and all will just be fine.

      He has the judgement of a rebellious teenager.

      Obamacare was indeed designed to destroy the current healthcare system, but I think that’s because he believed that the current healthcare system (which is the best in the world) is utterly immoral and without compassion. Thus, he wanted to be ‘the hero’ by replacing it with a big government solution with his name on it… and all the destructive ramifications that came with that just weren’t considered or cared about.

      Honestly, I think that the people who believe this president has engineered the dismantling of this country’s ability to succeed and remain relevant in the world are very much overestimating his intelligence.

      He’s not dumb, but he has the judgement, wisdom, and common sense of a child.

      • Darren Perkins

        So really what you are saying is that he really is ‘trying’ to make the country stronger? It is this very sentiment that got him re-elected. I don’t buy it. He may have a different definition of ‘stronger’ as in ‘socialist’ which he personally defines as ‘stronger’,’better’,’morally superior’ but to impute to him an actual motive to build up the US (i.e economically,militarily,morally) is giving him way too much credit and is belied not only by his own words at times but nearly all of his actions. What you are seeing as incompetence I think he sees as a means to an end. You fail to give him credit for what he is truly a master at and that is being able to manipulate people. That is his strength and why he felt he could transform the United States’ image in the world but alas he hasn’t found the rest of the world as gullible as the average American. It is also why he has never stopped campaigning and not just opposing but demonizing and oppressing not only his political enemies but many other groups. Dividing the citizens up into respective groups (democrat , republican, rich,poor,black,white,hispanic,lgbt etc.) Is necessary for effective manipulation.

        • John Daly

          No, not stronger. I think he’s ‘trying’ (and failing, of course) to make the country more SOCIALLY JUST and “even up the playing field”. And he believes the answer is to essentially take from wealthy people, give to poorer people, and that there won’t be any negative ramifications that come from that. It’s a dangerously naive view, and it has done serious damage to this country.

          He’s a manipulator for sure, and I agree with everything you wrote after that. He knows how to divide and conquer, and he believes the ends justifies the means… And I give him a lot of credit for being a brilliant politician. As a leader though, he could very well be the worst, most damaging one we’ve ever had in the White House.

          You’re right in that he doesn’t care about having a unified country. He’s been proving that for five years.

          Again, this is my opinion… I may be wrong, but I think I’m right. 😉

          • Darren Perkins

            I understand your viewpoint and I would certainly hope that you believe what you write. I really have a hard time attributing to him any semblence of an altruistic motive. I remember when he was first elected that I was dissappointed but resolved to give him a shot to see how he would try and fulfill his stated goals. I wanted to see him be a leader and then he proceeded to do the exact opposite. I can’t imagine that he didn’t know that he was not going try to unify the nation and congress as he promised. He knew that he was going to divide us. That goes way beyond lieing or merely being inneffective. That is on the scale of the best con-game in history. He’s a confidence man and a person of low character. He is out for himself and his cronies and no one else as far as I can tell.

          • John Daly

            I don’t really disagree with any of that, but I think the extent of his ‘unification’ goal was just him being elected as our president (again, the bumper-sticker leadership angle). I honestly believe that he thought that he was just such an amazing individual that once he was in office, a large majority of Americans would certainly just ‘fall in line’ and support him because of his greatness, regardless of what he actually did.

            I really do believe he thinks THAT highly of himself, and when the emergence of the Tea Party hit two years later, it was a huge, unexpected, wake-up call. It completely took him off guard and he went into full divide and conquer mode.

          • John Daly

            Because I’m sure you’re really interested in hearing it, right? lol.

          • John Daly

            Actually, it’s not a bad idea for a future column. Check back in a week or two.

          • John Daly

            Yeah, I knew you weren’t serious. Glad I didn’t waste the time.

          • John Daly

            No, I wasn’t working on it, but I do think it’s an interesting topic for a column so I’ll write one on it, probably in the near future.

            I just wasn’t going to waste my time writing it here, as a comment to an unrelated column, in reply to someone who would just blindly heckle it anyway.

            But thanks for the idea.

          • Darren Perkins

            I’d like to hear it.

          • Darren Perkins

            Not only divide but oppress. People who think he had no idea about this IRS mess are ridiculous. Plausible deniability is just that. It certainly isn’t conclusive proof and judging by his modus operandii it fits right in. Anyway… good column.