Saturday, November 10, 2012

Breathing Again .... Again

Four years ago November 5th I wrote that I was Breathing Again after the divisive and derisive campaigning of McCain and Palin failed to win the White House for the GOP and Obama was elected by a substantial margin.  I also cautioned, however, that the euphoria over his election was likely unwarranted by political reality -- though at the time I didn't foresee the magnitude of the obstructionist tactics the GOP/Tea Party would employ to limit his effectiveness.  During this campaign I was holding my breath again because the strategy of Romney/Ryan was working and it seemed there was a very real prospect of not only a GOP president but also both House and Senate controlled by fiscal and social conservatives with no interest in compromise or consensus (recall John Boehner's adamant rejection of the word "compromise").  And so I'm breathing again....again.

But once again I'm not euphoric.  It is clear that nearly 1/2 the nation's voters saw Romney and Ryan in a positive light and therefore any solutions to the nation's economic and social problems have to consider their conservative viewpoints.  There was no mandate given here, other than through the polls that repeatedly show that most Americans want government to solve problems, not remain paralyzed by unbending adherence to a single philosophical agenda. And I can hardly be encouraged by the fact that this election may have simply maintained the status quo in congress of the last two years which showed a stunning inability to solve anything.

It is correct to say that our congressional leaders have become polarized and the distance that must be bridged in order to reach agreement is greater than it has been in a long time.  However, the GOP has moved farther to the right than the Democratic Party has to the left.  There was a time when I could have accepted a GOP dominated government because accommodation and negotiation (aka "civility") were still the norm.  But not now.

Maybe the positive impact of the election will be in causing the GOP/Tea Party to re-examine its position on the political spectrum and its relationship to a broader electorate.  Michael Gerson of the Washington Post recently offered an analysis of this possibility that I think is very insightful and I'll close with his words:

Some of the most important intellectual groundwork is needed on the role of government. Mitt Romney had a five-part plan to encourage job creation. He lacked a public philosophy that explained government’s valid role in meeting human needs. Suburban women heard little about improved public education. Single women, particularly single mothers, heard little about their struggles, apart from an off-putting Republican critique of food stamps. Blue-collar workers in, say, Ohio heard little about the unique challenges that face declining industrial communities. Latinos heard little from Republicans about promoting equal opportunity and economic mobility.

Neither a vague, pro-business orientation nor tea party ideology speaks to these Americans — except perhaps to alienate them. Conservatives will need to define a role for government that addresses human needs in effective, market-oriented ways. Americans fear public debt, and they resent intrusive bureaucracies, but they do not hate government.  [Emphasis added]
 We'll revisit this topic in another couple of years to assess if the situation has improved.  In the meantime I'll keep breathing, but I will also keep my fingers crossed.


SimoneStan said...

I feel that I can breath a little. Yes there are certainly challenges ahead. And though the House is controlled by the Republicans they can not wait four years till the next election before they do something.

Coleen Hanna said...

The "fiscal cliff" is looming. If only white votes are considered, Romney ticket would have won. Hmmm... In my family and community circle, most of the supportive comments for Mitt & Co. were based on wrong information gleaned only from Fox News. I would like to believe that if people based their votes on the facts, and understood the facts, they would have brought Obama in by a lot more votes.

Anonymous said...

Four years later and you like what you see from Obama? Clearly you're a partisan old fool.

Richard Sherman said...

I think you just made my point.