There are at least 233 reasons why President Obama should not waste energy trying to be a president of compromise. For five years, every Republican in the House has tried desperately to prevent America from prospering. Remember, not one Republican could force themselves to acknowledge that 10 million Americans are unemployed. Not one of those 233 lockstep congressmen seemed to notice that 8 million homeowners suffered through bank foreclosure. The untold truth is that except for the SEC protecting mega banks, America’s banking industry is barely standing. Factory doors are still being chained closed. Commercial businesses of every kind continue folding at a pace that seems irreversible. But yet 233 Republican Congressmen still want to further promote their failures by refusing to support ideas as basic as an economic stimulus package, or the rebuilding of our terminally ill infrastructure, even as bridges, water delivery, energy delivery grids, roads, and schools crumble around us.
I will add to the list of 233 reasons Obama should end his attempts to compromise with Republican leadership that put us here to begin with. Reason number 234 would be that Obama was sent to Washington with a mandate to change failed policy rather than compromise with the architects of those disastrous, ignorant policies.
I’d also add reason 235 to the list of why Obama should abandon his attempts at bipartisan compromise. The Republican Party is in a total freefall. They have no common ground with Gen. Xers, Millennial voters, Latinos, African American voters, women, moderate Democrats, or Independents – they have no adult leadership. Do the electoral math and it is clear that the Republicans have morphed into something resembling a historical artifact, except in the House that they have gerrymandered into a Teabag Frankenstein. With a party whose leadership today seems to be comprised of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Steve King, Joe the Plumber, Exxon, Rush Limbaugh, and Rev. John Hagee, is it really that important to continue to reach across the aisle to that peculiar crowd of oddballs? Does that really move America ahead?
The 236th reason I would give for no need to compromise is this: Bill Clinton almost destroyed the Democratic Party because of his need to be loved. In his effort to be loved, he abandoned many of the fundamentals that, fortunately for Americans, distinguished Democrats from Republicans. He compromised on those fundamentals to the point that the Democrats lost their 1994 midterm elections. NAFTA, CAFTA, insane media ownership reform, safety net deconstruction, Robert Rubin, and his love affair with Wall Street was even more vulgar than his Monica Lewinsky cigar.
For 5 years, Obama had an unequivocal mandate that allowed him to be less like Bill and more like Franklin Roosevelt. FDR often said that he was flattered when the out-of-touch elite of his time expressed their disdain for him and his policies. Obama should feel flattered as well. FDR welcomed that pure extreme evil right wing hate, but Obama cringes and compromises rather than accept the reailty of that hate. He is unwilling to embrace it. And the truth is he has to. There is no alternative reality; no made-for-TV, Disney-production movie where everything just miraculously works out.
I’ll add another reason why Obama should not feel compelled to make nice with Republican leadership. A recent ABC poll showed that around 70% of Americans are fed up with the Republican party and policies of grid lock disaster. They want what they characterize as major new programs of change as soon as possible. In fact, that is what they have wanted for 5 years now. It doesn’t appear that voters are really concerned about a need for compromise to get there. Nothing warm and fuzzy about what most voters want. They want that “change-thing” and right now they don’t see it. They see too many XL Pipelines barrelling their way towards them.
In an effort to get along, Obama met continually with GOP leadership in closed-door sessions where he listened to them whine, cajole, and threaten to derail any and all policies with an O behind it. Which brings me to reason 237 for why Obama should end his compromise posture. It is this: An opponent without any foreseeable chance to wield sustainable power looks desperate and almost comical when they make threats. Obama should simply let that ridiculous picture play itself out. If not for his entertainment, then maybe for ours.
Time is up for this administration – down the home stretch here. It is time, President Obama, to create a legacy that we have visualized for 5 years. I want to be telling stories to my grandchildren about how Obama promised change in America and then made that change take place. I want to be telling my grandchildren that Obama got up one day and abandoned endless, needless compromise for much needed adult confrontation. That he saved capitalism by pushing back the Wall Street barbarians at America’s gate.
That he re-energized America’s working population by empowering our labor movement.
That he saved America’s middle class and working poor.
That he saved the neo-nut right wing court-packed judiciary from itself by strong arming through progressive appointments.
That he preserved our natural resources, our air, our water, our public commons for them; our children and our grandchildren. That he focused on a better America even when he was not loved and adored by his opposition.
I want to tell my grandchildren that this was a courageous leader who built the best education system in the world for them. Second to none as a publicly-run institution.
I simply want to tell my grandchildren that here was another FDR who made promises about change and kept those promises. That the words he spoke in brilliant speeches actually meant something more than words.
You have 3 years left, President Obama. Your time is now – by the time we are telling stories about you to our grandchildren, most Americans genuinely want to tell them about a legacy that was built out of courage and unshakeable honesty instead of counter-productive, useless compromise with 233 Congressional dimwits who have only one goal, and that is to see you remembered as an average to below average president. Pull out that damn executive order pen, that’s what it is for. Bulldoze filibuster; go back and listen to those wonderful speches you made when you ran for president that first term – We still believe you can.
Yes you can.