Sunday, June 17, 2012

More on ending the stalemate

I give the president a lot of credit for continuing to talk about members of Congress working together in a constructive way to pass programs that would put people to work right now.  This is a tough message to be putting forward in an election year, when all most politicians want to talk about is electing themselves and defeating the other guy. But President Obama is still talking about a new kind of politics in which elected officials put the needs of the country ahead of partisan advantage.
Every problem we face is within our power to solve.  What’s lacking is our politics.  Remind your Members of Congress why you sent them to Washington in the first place.  Tell them to stop worrying about the next election and start worrying about the next generation.  I’m ready to work with anyone – Republican, Democrat, or Independent – who is serious about moving this country forward.  And I hope Members of Congress will join me.

The president's supporters for the most part aren't all that excited by that message, because they just want to defeat the other guys. They want to hear more fiery rhetoric and outrage from the president. The opposition doesn't want to hear President Obama's message either, because they do seem willing to defer action to help the economy if they think it will help them politically, and they don't appreciate it when somebody points that out. But it's still the right message because what both sides don't seem to realize is that they are not likely to vanquish their political enemies in an election year or otherwise. To do that, you either have to destroy them or convert them, and neither of those things is likely to happen in November.

President Obama knows that after he is re-elected, we are still going to have a polarized electorate and most likely still have a divided government. The opposition is not going anywhere. And even if the Republicans win, it will just be their turn to deal with a large and angry opposition. No matter what happens, we should still try to figure out how to work together to move forward. President Obama is looking ahead as usual, but he is also asking that we not squander the rest of this year doing nothing to solve pressing economic problems, just because we are facing political decisions.

I was sad to hear the news this morning that Rodney King died, because Rodney King made one of the most memorable statements addressing the problems of our times. "Can't we all get along?" President Obama has been asking a similar question. We don't have to agree with each other all the time. We don't have to surrender our principles. But we should try to work together to solve common problems. How amazing that President Obama continues to state that simple but profound message after all we have been through.



  1. << No matter what happens, we should still try to figure out how to work together to move forward. >>

    Specifically, where would you advise compromise in Congress so that we get laws passed?. Do you like parts of Simpson-Bowles? What is your idea of working together?

  2. Specifically, it's pretty hard for me to understand why we can't authorize highway repairs that are urgently needed, while construction workers are idle. I also don't understand how the Republicans in Congress get to decide that they will only vote on the parts of the American Jobs Act that Republicans like, and refuse to allow a vote on the rest of it.

    It's also hard to understand why they can't make more progress on a deficit-reduction plan. Actually I do understand that one. It is because Republicans refuse to consider anything that raises one nickel of revenues. But that resistance may be starting to crumble.

    I'm not going to get into Simpson-Bowles because this is not a policy blog. I'm mainly interested in process. But I will say that if the Congress were to enact the recommendations of the two chairmen of Simpson-Bowles (remember the Simpson Bowles committee did not even come up with a report as a committee) in their entirety, I probably wouldn't like a lot of it, but I also wouldn't be screaming that that would be a betrayal of all progressive principles.

  3. Not a policy blog. I get it. So, specifically (not policy of cousrse!), where is the compromize?