Consider This: Washington…We Have a Problem
Published By: All Right Magazine on January 29, 2010
By Dr. BRIAN K. CLARDY
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I am a moderate Democrat. More to the point, I have cast four ballots for Barack Obama (Illinois U.S. Senate and presidential primary and general elections). And more than likely, I will cast a similar set of votes for him in 2012. I am a dyed in the wool Obama Democrat and will probably remain one for life.
But, I do believe that some conservative principles can and do work well. And unlike many Democrats, I am not so quick to poo poo the legacy of Ronald Reagan. Yes I believe he was a great president. And I am also a political and diplomatic historian, and I see some trends with this new administration that if they are not reversed (and quickly) then the country is headed for even greater and more severe economic challenges. And if Obama isn’t careful in his approaches, it is certain that he will become a one-term president.
The Democratic losses in the off year elections in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts should have been a major wakeup call that the “change” that he promised in 2008 has not yet come to fruition. Granted, presidents often lose seats in off year elections, especially in the first term, but this is a harbinger of things to come for 2010. The President has given the impression, fair or unfair, that he intends to govern from the Far Left, as opposed to being the Centrist that he touted himself as just a couple of years ago.
Runaway deficit spending, bank bailouts, and a seemingly cumbersome stimulus plan are yet to account for the rising jobless and home foreclosure rates. Instead, the President’s focus on health care reform has proven to be a distraction to fixing an economy that is desperate straits and an American voting public is reacting with justifiable anger and demanding results. It is becoming painfully clear that well written speeches cannot and will not assuage the anxiety of voters, small business people or the chronically unemployed.
The anger expressed in the town hall meetings last summer was real, and it was grounded in true fear of an unstable economic reality. Did racial prejudice play a part in some of the vitriol? Well, that is highly debatable. But what is certain is the view that the Federal government was expanding beyond its reach and scope is as old as the Republic and it found its best expression in the TEA parties and in the September 12 rallies. It would be foolhardy, and politically suicidal, to dismiss those as the ravings of a disgruntled minority.
If the President wants to reverse course and find the focus that was lost in his first year, he has to work cooperatively with Democratic and Republican leaders to reduce the deficit (that has spiraled out of control) and grow the economy through tax cuts. And if the President seeks true health care reform, then he may have to extend a hand to conservatives to forge a true bipartisan consensus, one that does not involve sweetheart financial deals with reluctant Democratic senators, but that engages the best ideas across party lines. It is imperative that the final product address such areas as tort reform and allow the states to have a degree of flexibility in tailoring the Federal plan to meet their own health care realities. Health care reform should not become a permanent unfunded mandate to states who are already feeling the fiscal pinch.
The President must simply rediscover the policy focus that got him elected. By governing from the Center, he will clearly set the bipartisan tone that is needed to promote common sense policies that could alleviate our current economic ills. He is right in criticizing the permanent campaign, but now is the time for him to practice what he preaches.
The election of 2008 is over—the President won. Now it’s time for him to govern responsibly.
Dr. BRIAN K. CLARDY is a political and diplomatic historian with a taste for jazz music and a distaste for rigid ideology. He holds degrees in Political Science, Public Administration, and History and is the author of The Management of Dissent: Responses to the Post Kent State Protests at Seven Public Universities in Illinois.