What Is Tyranny? The President Should Know The Definition.

Constitution Pg1of4 AC icon cut

Constitution Pg1of4 AC icon cut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


President Obama gave the commencement address at Ohio State Universities graduation ceremony last weekend. Here are a few quotes from the speech followed by some of my comments.

Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”


This is what you would expect to hear from someone who doesn’t want his power to be challenged. Lets look at what our founders thought about  Government and compare it to our President. Our Federal Government was created by the States through the constitution. The Federal Government was to be subordinate to the States except in specific areas that were spelled out in articles I through VII. The amount of power that was given to the Federal Government can be written down on twenty 3×5 cards, check it out here .  All  powers not listed in articles I-VII were reserved to the states and the people, read the tenth amendment here. Our founders didn’t trust the concentration of power in one individual, or a group of individuals, because they understand what tyranny was.

[Here is the definition of tyranny – arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority. despotism, absolutism, dictatorship. Arbitrary means – subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one’s discretion: an arbitrary decision.]

Our founders grew up in freedom that had evolved systemically in colonial America. (Read We’re All Born In The Middle Of The Story) They saw England attempt to take this freedom by using arbitrary power to enforce arbitrary rules. They fought to keep their freedom because they knew how precious it was, and how rare it was in the scope of human history. The Government they set up was to be chained down by the constitution, as Jefferson said, “ The two enemies of the people are criminals and Government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second doesn’t become the legalized version of the first“. They saw the potential for the Government they created to become ‘tyrannical”. Our constitution established a Government with only enough power to protect the freedom of each individual. The constitution was not written for the benefit of the Government or the politicians who were elected to office. It wasn’t set up to do anything more than what was listed, and any use of power outside of these specific limits would be considered by definition tyrannical.


Our President, and most politicians, think that they are put into office to use arbitrary power to enforce arbitrary rules. The president is just the embodiment of this ideology, he is not alone in his thinking, most elected officials think this way. They attack people who oppose their over reaches of power. One of their tactics is to mischaracterize the position of  their opponents, and then argue against the straw man they created. Government over reaches are what are at the root of a majority, not all, of our problems. The unintended consequences of these over reaches lead to more over reaches which leads to more unintended consequences, starting a never-ending encroachment on individual freedom. We are the voices who “gum up the works”, which means we stand in the way of them gaining more power over the individual. If you understand our founding documents, you will be able to know what an arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power looks like, and you will call it by its proper name, tyranny. It doesn’t lurk behind every corner, it lurks behind every over reach by politicians using  Government power. He said “these voices should be rejected”. Shouldn’t they be analysed for truth instead of dismissed or demonized?

The President also said,“We have never been a people who place all our faith in government to solve our problems. We shouldn’t want to. But we don’t think the government is the source of all our problems, either. Because we understand that this democracy is ours. And as citizens, we understand that it’s not about what America can do for us, it’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but absolutely necessary work of self-government. And class of 2013, you have to be involved in that process.”

When it comes government solving “all” our problems, or creating “all” our problems, he is arguing against the same “all or nothing” straw man he created. This is a rhetorical trick of politicians with tyrannical leanings, who try to convince people that working together with Government is what produces the best outcomes “for us”.


He also said, “…..what I have seen from your generation are perennial and quintessentially American values. Altruism. Empathy. Tolerance. Community. And a deep sense of service that makes me optimistic for our future……. Because we know this country cannot accomplish great things if we pursue nothing greater than our own individual ambition.”

These are great sounding words that have nothing to do with our founding principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If the values of altruism, empathy, tolerance, and community are to be pursued, they must be forced on people who don’t want to comply with  Governments idea of what these values mean. If the Government just protects the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for each individual, the other four values will automatically happen at the optimal level that can be achieved. If you want to serve your fellow-man, go out into the market and produce something he is willing to purchase voluntarily.

This last line from the President’s quote, “Because we know this country cannot accomplich great things if we pursue nothing greater than our own individual ambition,” is the essence of the battle that has been going on for centuries. How should society be organized? The President and his ilk think that society should be organized from the top down, by people who are the best and brightest, like himself. This will produce the best possible outcome and maybe even bring utopia here on earth. People like me think that society can create the best possible outcome for the most people if each individual is allowed to pursue his own interest inside of general rules, which means order is created from the bottom up. (Read Spontaneous Order = Free Market). This is what Hayek was talking about when he said, ” The coordination of mens activities through central planning or through voluntary cooperation are roads going in very different directions, the first to serfdom and poverty the second to freedom and plenty.”


Related article, Trusting Your Own Government, by John Harvey at americanthinker.com

Related article, Keynes vs. Hayek Round II, The Fight Of The Century, by austrianaddict.com

Related article, Obama As King, by John Stossel at Reason.com

Explore posts in the same categories: Government and Politics

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