Choose ten American students who have recently completed their bachelor’s degree, and ask them who Edmund Burke was. The chances are you will receive ten blank stares. A political science major may respond that, to the best of her recollection, Burke was a British politician. You will probably find yourself again, however, on the receiving end of a vacuous gaze if you ask this student a follow-up question, “What do you think of his political philosophy?” 

For those who wouldn’t know Edmund Burke from the Lone Ranger, let me be of assistance. This eighteenth century Brit was one of the most brilliant statesmen and political theorists who ever lived. It’s no wonder that Russell Kirk began his informative volume, The Conservative Mind, by bowing to this man's genius. 

Yet Burke and his brand of politics are not the only subjects to slip through the gaping holes in the American academic net. The French Revolution is another. I confess with a long face that, when I was in school, I never once heard an instructor elaborate to any significant extent upon this cataclysmic event. Dickens’ classic, A Tale of Two Cities, was assigned reading in the ninth grade, but the excesses and horrors of the French Revolution were scarcely discussed.  So go figure. What sense we students ever made of the fact that Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were decapitated beats me. 

It may be of interest to you that Burke was in England while the tumult and mayhem of the French Revolution were exploding across the channel. He wrote about those occurrences in Reflections on the Revolution in France, and described them as “the most astonishing that has hitherto happened in the world.” The great man’s assessment renders Americans’ ignorance of the Revolution all the more incomprehensible. 

Burke tended to be critical of revolution in general, especially when it involves turning our collective back upon the product of humanity’s experience and attempting to re-invent the world anew. This was a gentleman who believed in the wisdom of ancient institutions, such as the church and parliament; and he extolled tried and true values such as the protection of private property. He condemned the Jacobins, the most powerful revolutionary party in France, for supporting a mighty centralized government that was contemptuously cruel to, and confiscated property from, the church. He likewise scorned political philosophers, who devised government projects and programs on the basis of nothing more than abstract theory. He emphasized that "it is with infinite caution that any man ought to venture upon pulling down an edifice which has answered in any tolerable degree for ages the common purposes of society, or on building it up again, without having models and patterns of approved utility before his eyes." Burke was properly suspicious of democracy, especially when it is unbounded by traditional wisdom and virtue. On this note, he demythologized gloriously vague terms such as “liberty, equality, and fraternity.” He rebuked the insanity of Frenchmen like Robespierre for declaring war on the idea of social classes by ushering in a muddy tide of egalitarian mediocrity that ends, as with all such tides, in a sea of authoritarianism. I happen to think that Burke and his writings remain supremely relevant today. His thought should be widely read and discussed, even trumpeted from the rooftops! 

Our own Mr. Obama exhibits the same sophomoric intellectual traits as those Burke deplored in the architects of the French Revolution, who sought to transform France from top to bottom. "Rage and phrenzy," he wrote, "will pull down more in half an hour, than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in a hundred years." Mr. Obama has attempted for over six years to “transform” America by seeking to pull her down.

Reformation, as opposed to revolution, takes many years of fine-tuning. Circumspection and caution are its motivating forces. Yet, as the contemporary Jacobin Mr. Obama is, he has torn down a healthcare system that, despite its multiplicity of problems, was better than that which he put in its place. He lied to us about the effects of what he created, but so what? Other political figures have lied with impunity. 

What Mr. Obama did to healthcare is part of his egalitarian attitude of “redistributive justice,” replete with eloquent rhetorical flourishes, which equal those of the French National Assembly. Under his misguided social policies, millions upon millions of citizens have become dependent upon the heroin of public largesse. It is not supposed to ruffle us that the money to finance their food, clothing, and shelter is taken forcibly from us through extortionate taxation. Oh, and by the way, these people vote too; remember that! They have the same voice in government as you and I do.

“So why this leveling effect?” you ask.  Because we’re all “equal,” don’t you see? Everyone, by virtue of being a human being, “deserves a fair share of the American pie." Those who happen not to agree with this premise simply fail to recognize that they themselves are not actually responsible for their position in the food chain.  They didn’t build the businesses they own! No, drones should have the same rights as workers. The universal "rights of man" include hours of leisure, in which anyone should be allowed to write poetry, paint pictures, and enjoy the literary arts. Sure! This is the meaning of “compassion,” “humanity,” “fairness,” “fraternity,” “liberty,” and, yes, by gosh, “democracy”!  Never mind Edmund Burke, who sagely reminded us, “Never did a state . . . enrich itself by the confiscations of the citizens.” 

The same indiscriminate and perverse reasoning is evident in Mr. Obama’s failure to enforce the nation’s immigration laws. Thousands of illegals transgress our nation’s southern borders with impunity every day and bring a myriad of social problems with them. Our president and his minions ask how we can ignore so many who need our help. They are, he insists, fellow human beings, who are our equals in every way, and they deserve our “compassion.” Forget that these people have stolen their way into our country. Forget that our welfare programs are now taxed beyond repair.  Forget that you and I are expected to take care of these undocumented souls. Forget that they have come from Third World cultures, with barbarities that are almost unspeakable. Forget that they take jobs away from American citizens. Forget that Mr. Obama will find a way to grant them amnesty while thousands of Western Europeans have pinched their pennies and are waiting patiently in an unending line to immigrate here legally. Let’s not kid ourselves: Mr. Obama’s sterling sense of "compassion" has actually to do with recruiting new members to the Democrat party and implementing a socialist regime in this country. That’s the long and short of it. 

The same idiocy is apparent in Mr. Obama’s “foreign policy,” if anyone has the temerity to call it a "policy." We the American people sit by passively and watch world events fulminating into one extraordinary disaster after another, with each jeopardizing our national security and stature abroad. The events in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Iran, and the Ukraine threaten us. Yet who are we to exert our power and might in the world?  Doing so would violate the sovereignty of nations and their desire for “equal” voice, dignity, and respect. This is why Mr. Obama has gone about the world apologizing for America’s past actions. His hare-brained ideology also explains why he failed to speak out in support of Iranians who were protesting their country’s tyrannical policies. This explains why he has not publicly addressed the fact that Sudanese Muslims are about to execute a woman for being a Christian. This is why he is willing to pull fighting forces from Iraq and write off America’s colossal financial and human sacrifices there. (Never mind that the situation we are leaving is worse and far more dangerous than the one we intervened in order to remedy.) It does not take any degree of prescience to recognize that the same kind of defeat awaits us in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama's “leading from behind” is a posture resulting from an enfeebled egalitarian attitude that excites no other feeling in me than raging disgust. 

Recently, this president addressed an elite group of his supporters and spoke of the difficulty of passing bills in the Senate.  He is obviously troubled by the anti-democratic nature of Senatorial representation.  Why, after all, should Wyoming have the same number of Senate seats as California?  This is precisely the kind of question a Jacobin would ask. One wonders whether our freedom-loving president will attempt to democratize this “misguided” and “antiquated” system with the aid of his pen and cellphone.   

However we as Americans decide to respond to the most lawless and incompetent president in American history, let’s be sure not to speak of the constitutional remedy of impeachment, even if and when the Senate is turned over to Republicans in 2014. Impeachment would not be “fair” to the nation’s first black president and to the countless “downtrodden” citizens who have benefitted from his readiness to redistribute to them our money. “Democracy,” “liberty,” and “equality” demand that he remain in office.  

There’s so much left, after all, for Mr. Obama to tear down during the remainder of his term. Thankfully, he has been able to address the “offensive” and “racist” name of a prominent sports franchise. This has apparently become a major goal of state. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to attempt, as did the Jacobins, to adopt a new calendar, changing a week from seven days to ten; after all, the former reeks of a Judeo-Christian ideology that is "offensive" to citizens of other religious persuasions. They deserve an "equal" voice, right?

June 21, 2014