Wednesday, November 03, 2010

When "YES, WE CAN!" becomes "NO, YOU CAN'T!"

Actually, I'm not an American citizen yet, so I didn't. But I would have done.

The most disappointing this about last night's election results were just how predictable they were.

Across the United States, disgruntled voters ticked the boxes for Republican candidates exactly as the media expected them to - all in a protest at what they viewed as the crushing disappointment of the Obama administration's performance.

"We were promised 'hope' and 'change'" they complained, "and all we've had from our smooth-talking president is 'that's not quite what we wanted' and 'it won't happen overnight.'"

But you know what? That's exactly what he promised.

Far too many voters bought into the bullshit about Obama - either the 'he's a socialist' hyperbole from the right wing, or the equally asinine 'hope and change' crap from the left. The majority of American voters seemed to think he was the second coming or the anti-Christ, when in fact Obama's always been a fiercely moderate pragmatist as equally frusted with Washington as we are.

One of the most memorable passages from his manifesto, The Audacity of Hope, outlined the cynical standoff in Washington. He complained at how the Democrats in Congress would spend four years bitterly shooting down any proposed legislation from the Republicans - and when the balance shifted to their favor, the Republicans would spend the next four years doing exactly the same thing to the Democrats. Nothing ever got accomplished.

And that's exactly what happened over the course of the past two years.

President Obama was elected on a rousing cry of 'YES, WE CAN!' and the Republican party responded by making sure that they gave a united screech of 'NO, YOU CAN'T' towards anything and everything the Obama administration proposed.

The reason I'm so frustrated with the election results is not because I'm a liberal or a democrat - it's because the Republicans have done nothing to deserve their success. They pulled out all the stops over the last two years to ensure Obama could accomplish nothing, and then complained about his lack of progress. There was an almost religious fervor to it - Obama couldn't so much as blow his nose without some smug Republican calling a filibuster.

And as for the Democrats - I can understand their frustration with Obama. When they swooped into power on the cusp of the 'hope and change' mantra, they had the power to accomplish anything. And what happened? Obama did exactly what he promised he'd do; both in The Audacity of Hope and during his election campaign. He genuinely tried to reach out to the Republican party and soften the partisan politics that quagmire congress.

And the fact is, he did a lousy job of it.

Instead of striking when the iron was hot, and forcing legislation through with the backing of a buoyant majority, he stepped back and offered the Republicans an olive branch. They took that opportunity to stall, delay, sabotage and stop legislation until the momentum was gone and all hope of passing the bill was lost.

Obama fell for this crap time and time again.

And in the GOP's defense, Obama's bipartisan efforts were half-hearted. When he approached Republicans about supporting health care legislation, or stimulus spending, he didn't offer them much in the way of compromise. Obama left it too easy for the Republicans to say 'no' and that's exactly what they did. Real compromise would have left them looking bad for rejecting it.

So nothing got accomplished, just like always happens in Washington. The atmosphere of 'hope and change' turned to one of apathy and frustration. The Republicans rubbed their hands together in glee - reveling in the effortless rewards for simply saying 'no' for twenty four months straight.

And now what?

More of the same.

With a Republican majority, President Obama's ambitions are scuppered. They'll shoot him down at every opportunity. Yet likewise, the Democratic party will ensure that any positive legislation the Republicans propose is debated, derailed and eventually deconstructed until - like everything else in Washington - it's meaningless and mediocre.

In all honesty, it's neither the Republicans or Democrats fault this time - it's ours.

Voters hit the polls last night, demanding change. Instead, they gave a stamp of approval to another term of the same old shit from the same old politicians. Perhaps the Tea Partiers were the smartest of all of us. Nobody rational could stand their candidates or their asinine ideas - but at least they were supporting something new, idealistic and ambitious.

Those are three things the senate and congress will remain sadly bereft of.


paul mitchell said...

Roland, Obama did not try to reach across to Republicans in a single instance, but I never assumed he would. Obama was the farthest left Congressman ever in the history of our country. Even Sheldon Whitehouse is not as far left as Obama was when Barry was a Senator. To try to say that Obama is anything other than a Leftist ideologue ignores the obvious.

Tom said...

I'm not sure if I'd call Obama the farthest left - but certainly, calling him bipartisan is naive. He's failed to unite the far-left and center-left branches of the democratic party, let alone the democratic and republican parties.

Now, to be fair, he didn't _need_ any republican votes to pass legislation, and so didn't reach out to them. But when he fails to do that, he can't complain when they try to stop him.

Also, it's not fair to say that Obama did nothing. He managed to get a pork-laden stimulus that failed to stimulate the economy. He got a healthcare bill that noone has read. He managed to destroy quite a few perfectly good classic cars.

In this election, quite a few Americans took a look at what Obama has done, and decided they didn't like it.

It's not like government gridlock is a bad thing --- another name for it is "a stable business climate", which tends to be a good thing. At the very least, we probably won't go back to unnecessarily destroying automobiles any time soon.

Anonymous said...

"in fact Obama's always been a fiercely moderate pragmatist as equally frusted with Washington as we are."

REALLY? Moderate? If he's moderate than so am I. He is far left and America is middle right. His type of politics don't fit America.

paul mitchell said...

Sorry, Tom, I was only going on FACTS stating that Obama was the farthest left. He was not only the most left of Senators, he was the most left of ALL of Congress.

Tom said...

Paul, that seems to cover a relatively short period of time. How does he compare to, say, the new dealers?

(Just finished watching the Obama press conference - he looks tired.)

paul mitchell said...

It is hard to put it in perspective of anyone in the past until you get to the point that Obama argued vehemently to allow babies that were born to just sit in a coat closet until they were dead as a method of abortion. That is pretty much the most ghoulish thing I have ever read.

Andy said...

Roland, I love ya', and I hope you know that I do...

But, "a fiercely moderate pragmatist"...

Bwahahahahahahahahaha! That is one of the funniest damn things I've read in a coon's age. Obviously (if you really believe that), you are MUCH smarter than I am. Because all I can see in Obama is a leftists' leftist...only hindered in his plans by circumstances.

Were it not for what's left of our system, he would certainly have established Marxism full scale in the US.

Roland Hulme said...

Obama IS "a fiercely moderate pragmatist" by regular standards - not those of the right, perhaps.

I mean, he was against gay marriage, his bailouts followed in Bush's footsteps and if you read the Audacity of Hope you'll find him VERY FAR from being a socialist.

Okay, so 'fiercely' is PERHAPS a bit untrue. John McCain I'd describe as fiercely moderate. But Obama IS a political moderate, especially by the standards of the Democrat party. To paint him as a socialist isn't accurate or fair.

Tom's right, though - he can't be forgiven for sending all those Trans Ams, Camaros and other eighties car to the crusher.

paul mitchell said...

Roland, again, FACTS dispute what you are pushing. I linked the FACTS. When Obama was a Senator, he was the MOST LIBERAL of all people in Congress, not just on the Senate of the whole 535. And I read Audacity of Hope, it was written for the sole purpose of tempering the racist screed he wrote in 1995 called Dreams from my Father. You know, that book that talked about how much he IS A SOCIALIST and grew up as a Socialist, went to college as a Socialist, and then worked as a Socialist?


Roland Hulme said...

C'mon, Paul! You're making it sound like Obama voted with the Democratic party on 100% of all issues, which some simple research will prove... Oh, never mind.

Andy said...

Roland, Bill Clinton was a "fiercely moderate pragmatist."

As was Dubya Bush. Obama is something else, entirely.

paul mitchell said...

Roland, you simply refuse to click the link, right? The chart is right there. When Obama was a Senator, he scored more liberal than anyone else in Congress, House OR Senate. He was left of Sanders.

Roland Hulme said...

I'll have you know Colonel Sanders is a conservative. Just look at the way he dresses on those KFC posters.

Okay, okay, you're right about Obama's voting record. But I honestly think in many/most regards he's moderate. Remember, half the shit that gets into the voting mix ends up being on the RIGHT of Democratic policies. Occasional Professor Tom is right - the GOP is a single party (or maybe two, with the tea party) while the dems make up six parties within their own party.

paul mitchell said...

Roland, face it, the Democrats are all far left of center and became more so last night when half of the "Blue Dogs" were voted out of office. The Democrats are moving increasingly farther left as the country continues to assert that we are center right.

Y'all elected a half-black dude who is very far left and is not very smart either. I said early on, the only reason to vote for Obama was skin color because he was of marginal intelligence and a moonbat believer. He has proven me to be correct.

Susanne said...

Interesting post and comments. I think Obama is a bit more liberal than you made him out to be, but I'm a conservative so that's expected of me, right? :)

North Carolina got a GOP controlled House and Senate for the first time in 112 years! (During this time the House has been GOP lead for only a few years in the 1990s. The Senate not at all.) Our governor is a Democrat though. She was not up for reelection and she won during the Obama craze 2 years ago when even NC turned blue!