Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Today's the Day

Today's the day on which we Americans decide if Barack Obama's huge gamble pays off.

Back in 2006, if you remember, Democrats decided that they had learned from the Bush 2004 victory and they ran a lot of moderates for Congress.  It was a great success and the Dems picked up 30 seats in the House.

Then they ran the healer Barack Obama in 2008 and America voted for its first black president in the hope that he would end the centuries of race war.  The Democrats also picked up 25 seats in the House.

But President Obama did not govern as the healer.  He governed as a man in a hurry.  Galvanized by the almost filibuster-proof Senate, he decided to go for broke and pass every item on the liberal wish list while there was still time.  He passed a stimulus bill, Obamacare, and Dodd-Frank.

The American people were outraged and in 2010 sent 63 more Republicans to the House of Representatives, including a Tim Scott, a black insurance agent to represent Charleston, SC, and Allen West to represent a district in SE Florida.

The question today is whether we return the president to office, in which case his signature Obamacare will probably endure, or whether we counterattack, and roll back his ambitious effort to "transform" America.

If the president gets reelected then he will go down in history as one of the most daring and successful politicians ever.  If he fails then he will be dismissed as just another reckless fool that tried to take a bridge too far.

Of course, beyond the issue of the president and his daring gamble for the laurels of history, there is this.

Politics is civil war by other means.  The idea is to take advantage of your opportunities, but not so that your opponents decide that their only option is civil war.  The way you do this is, as Noam Chomsky puts it, by manufacturing consent.

When you want to pass a great health care bill you figure that you have two options.  You could go for broke with a bare partisan majority and create a head of rebellion in the opposition.  Or you could broker a compromise and pass a "bipartisan consensus."  Then you can argue that your bill was a "bipartisan" bill and that only a rump of extremists voted against it.

President Obama went the bare partisan majority route and rammed his programs through in the teeth of opposition from the American people.  I suspect that his decision will echo down the decades to come in rancor and conflict.

The result, of course, is likely to be sovereign debt default and the collapse of the welfare state, and maybe worse.

Women and minorities will be hardest hit, as usual.

But then, that's what usually happens when transformative leaders start transforming.

1 comment:

  1. The republican party has swung so far to the right, it is frightening to think of what might have happened were Romney elected. Women and minorities can breathe a sigh of relief... however there is much to be done.