I think there is something very wrong with the hype surrounding Barack Obama and his forthcoming inauguration. The whole thing seems to me more fitting to a totalitarian dictatorship than a great democracy, more like a monarch’s coronation or a Roman general’s triumph than a swearing-in ceremony for an elected president.
Take the cost of the event for starters: $160 million (ten or eleven times what it cost to inaugurate Clinton and Bush). Hardly what taxpayers fork over their hard-earned cash for, is it? And then consider that there will be 40,000 security personnel at the inauguration – more than the number of troops the US has serving in Afghanistan. The outgoing President has even declared a ‘state of emergency’ in DC. Kathryn Muratore got it right on LewRockwell.com when she said:
Welcome to the inauguration of the "leader of the free world." You may only enter the city through these designated roads and transit systems. You will only have access to the inauguration after passing through a security checkpoint, where you will be treated with suspicion. There will be thousands of armed men surrounding you at the ceremony and parade. But, hey, that's the price of freedom!
I’m sure that if the founding fathers could see it, they would be absolutely sickened.
And of course, it isn’t just the event that is the problem – it’s what it says about America and its relationship with its politicians. The whole thing verges on deification, as though the president is some mystical and all-powerful being who can and should solve everyone’s problems for them. Cato’s Gene Healy calls it ‘The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power’, which strikes me as pretty apt.
When you look at a spectacle like this, is it really any wonder that politicians get such inflated opinions of themselves and their abilities?