I failed to address the topic of public financing in my last post, and I apologize for that. It was at least important enough to acknowledge. So, I’ll deal with it now.
Put simply: I don’t like public financing because I fear it’ll just be used as another way for politicians to game the system, but I don’t like corporate financing either. Obama’s solution (to take donations from private individuals) actually manages to address both those issues, so I don’t have a problem with his decision. I thought it was a bad political move, simply because it laid the foundation for the “flip flopper” label people are trying to saddle him with, but I think it will be a net boon in the long run.
I feel it would be inaccurate to say that Obama’s change of position here is part of a trend toward the political center. One could make that argument, but I feel it would be more accurate to say that he moved more libertarian on this issue. He’s still standing in opposition to corporate financing, but instead of getting behind a flawed government institution, he decided to do it himself, and do it better. This isn’t something that one would see a typical Republican do (arguably, they’d be fine with corporate financing), nor is this something one would see from a typical liberal (who would get behind the institution for ideological reasons, if nothing else). This is, however, something I’d expect from a successful Libertarian Democrat. This is what I’d expect from a candidate who isn’t afraid to renounce a broken system, even though the ideals behind that system mirror his own.
I would argue that Barack Obama is as close to a Libertarian Democrat as we’re likely to see in a race like this for a good while. The typical Democrat tends to overlook personal responsibility too often, and the typical Republican tries to legislate morality too often. In contrast, Obama has consistently taken the libertarian position on those subjects, by arguing in favor of personal responsibility, and against legislating morality for others.
His Father’s Day speech about responsibility… His support for gun rights… His opposition to banning gay marriage… His support of states rights regarding capital punishment… If there is a greater narrative to be seen here, I don’t think it’s that Obama is making a strategic more to the political center. I think the narrative is actually about Obama turning out to be more of a Libertarian Democrat (ideologically) than we originally might have thought.