During the presidential campaign of 2008, many Americans were convinced that the election would be the most pivotal one in decades. As then-Senator Obama made speech after speech during that process, many people believed that they had found the kind of transformative figure that could magically eliminate the highly polarized nature of Washington politics.
On the day of the election, as the numbers came through and President Obama quite easily won in an electoral landslide over John McCain to become the nation’s first African-American president, there was sincere hope that the country could move on from the disastrous Bush years. Besides the fact that the presidency belongs to a man with higher intellectual capacity and greater fortitude than the last, politics in the United States are at their most divided level since the pre-Civil War years (and even then, at least laws were actually passed, even if detrimental).
Thanks to the Great Recession and pacts made by Republicans in Congress to block any law supported by the President since the day he was elected, this country has spent the last four years in a state of pessimism and stagnancy, rather than taking the opportunity to reshape itself in the post-Bush years. Extremists were able to take the Republican Party as far to the right as it has ever been in its history, and the likes of men like Dwight D. Eisenhower and even Ronald Reagan would be fairly appalled at how detrimental they have been to progress in the country.
Yet regardless of these realities, Democrats have often times not done much to help themselves in the last four years of President Obama’s presidency. In the next year or so, it will be time for both the president and Democratic members of Congress to take initiative in driving this nation forward into the future, rather than simply complaining about the incompetence of Republicans and their unwillingness to compromise.
President Obama needs to continue his tour of the country convincing the Ameri-can people of the necessity for tax reform that supports the middle class rather than further burdening them. He needs to explain that the “no-new taxes” pledges of Re-publican legislators put the United States in a dire fiscal situation that is not accept-able. Rather than simply complaining of the Republican lack of willingness to coop-erate, President Obama needs to call them out at every opportunity and stand firm behind his objective of raising taxes on the nation’s most wealthy citizens.
Despite the fragile state of the economy, the next four years are an opportunity for the President and the Democratic Party to solidify their status as the party of working and middle class Americans for a better future. If they are able to do so and present their case rationally and directly, then there is a possibility that the Republi-can Party will simply collapse on itself. Mitt Romney’s failure to convince the people of this nation that he represented their best interests was only a microcosm of how out of touch with reality his party has become. Most Republican strategists believed prior to this election that voter turnout from minorities and lower income Americans would revert back to the levels from 2004, indicating ambivalence toward President Obama’s policies.
Instead, these groups and others representing the middle class went to the polls in numbers very similar to 2008. The results of the election indicate that Americans who struggled the most through the Great Recession and the last four years recognized more than ever that a Romney victory would only further relegate their interests in the political landscape. President Obama’s victory represents the acknowledgement that he has the interests of the most Americans in mind, while the Republican Party clearly has the interests of a select few in mind. For this reason, it is quite possible that the President’s second victory will go down as much more pivotal in the political scheme of the United States.
Contact Ryan Martin at [email protected]