Sam Bain, Columnist
Ideology: Conservative | Writing from: Ohio
It has been well over one week since Americans delivered a resounding rejection to President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress. The question asked most has been how far to the center will Obama move? Will he compromise moderately as Clinton did? The one question that should be asked is if it is even in his nature to compromise. Here we have a man who ran on healing America and bringing the two parties together. Suffice it to say, there was barely any reaching out to Republicans on the matters of the stimulus or the healthcare bill. When Republican Congressional members wanted to offer amendments to Obamacare, their efforts were quickly killed in committee. When John McCain expressed his concern about how the bill was being handled, Obama’s response was that, “…the election’s over.”
Democrats had every opportunity to consider conservative ideas, but with massive majorities up until last week, they took that for granted. The tables have turned however. Believe it or not, the blame game will unfortunately, play a significant role in the next couple of years. It could even be considered an advantage that Republicans did not win control of the Senate. With the Democrats having the White House and the Senate, the more powerful of our bicameral legislature, most of the responsibility will be up to them.
While both parties should be primarily concerned for the next two years about leading the nation out of the recession, let’s be honest that the goal of the left is to keep control of the White House and for the right, vice versa. This is not to say that normal legislative procedures will not go forward, but that they will be geared toward winning the hearts and minds of the American electorate in order to take full control of the federal government in 2012.
It seems very few Democrats understand why their party suffered such a demoralizing defeat last Tuesday. Maybe a few do, but the president and (former) Speaker Pelosi do not. They believe their loss was due to a lack of communication, a messaging problem. But how many times did Obama make TV appearances earlier this year? He even did a national health care tour to sell the bill to the public. Many argued that he was overexposed. The people heard Mr. Obama loud and clear; the problem was never a lack coherent communication. The Democrats would have been better off had they kept mum about their policies.
What else can Obama do over the next two years to save himself and his party? For starters he would need a drastic change in how he governs, but the arrogance of this man may not allow that to happen. The reality is that if he even wants a small shot on winning a second term, then he must compromise with the opposition. That is his only viable option.
Obama and Pelosi are no strangers to blaming literally everything on Bush. Voters have already grown tired of it, and as mentioned before, blaming anything on House Republicans is not likely to work with the amount of power they have.
Today, the White House admitted they may consider compromising on the Bush tax cuts; an opportunity they had before, but now one they are almost forced to do. The real battle of conciliation will always come back to healthcare. Republicans cannot repeal it immediately. As much as they want to, garnering that 2/3 support in the Senate to override a presidential veto would be nearly impossible. What can Republicans can do is defund key aspects of the bill. Of course Obama will not be having any of this, so again he may be forced to renegotiate some components of it. With a split Congress, no one can have their cake and eat it too. Obama can risk his beloved healthcare bill being defunded or he can watch parts of it die.
It is likely that other legislative material the president may want to accomplish over the next 24 months could end the same way. It all depends on whether Obama and Pelosi value the White House or their ideology more.
Earlier this January, Obama stated the difference between the 1994 midterms and the 2010 midterms was himself; clearly this was not the case. Will the President at least artificially embrace conservative policies in an attempt to keep the White House, or will he continue with this, “my way or the highway” notion that was responsible for his party’s defeat? No one knows quite yet. The next two years will be a wild ride, and we will all be watching closely.