Thursday, September 20, 2012

Change

It's amazing to think that the Romney campaign is so clueless that they think they will score points by quoting one of the president's answers at a Univision event today, in which President Obama said that change comes from outside Washington, not inside. The Romney team immediately took this as an admission of failure from President Obama, that he personally is not powerful or able enough to make things happen. But what the president said today merely repeated a theme that goes back to his first presidential campaign. The theme that WE are the change we have been waiting for; that the election was not about him, it is about US. As can be seen from the clip below, the Obama campaign is not a bit afraid of the president's remarks today. They are proud to repeat them.

The president's statement also reflects a far more astute understanding of how power actually works in Washington, than his opponent is showing. Constitutionally, presidents do not have the powers that a lot of people think they do, and they are frequently stymied by opposition in Congress. Unless the president's party has a majority in both houses of Congress (nowadays a super-majority in the Senate), Congress has the power to block much of the administration's program. The best way to get Congress to move forward is to enlist the support of the American people, to whom Congress must be responsive. If Mitt Romney does not understand this fundamental fact, he would be in for a rude awakening if he ever were to occupy the Oval Office (which the people he scorns so much will make sure will never happen). It would be a bit like President Truman's prediction of what was going to happen when Eisenhower took over:
He’ll sit here and he’ll say, ‘Do this! Do that!’ And nothing will happen. Poor Ike—it won’t be a bit like the Army.
Mitt Romney cannot explain what he thinks is going to make Representatives and Senators suddenly behave differently from the way they have always acted throughout our history. He would therefore have to learn the hard way the lesson that President Obama already started off knowing: that presidential power mostly comes from the people.

We have a president who believes in the power of democracy in action, and who wants to be president of all the people. That is why he has been a lot more effective in implementing change than was originally predicted, in the face of unprecedented and unreasoning partisan opposition. That is why his personal popularity remains fairly high, despite the sluggish economy and the unrelenting negativity of the president's critics, while the popularity of Congress has sunk to historic lows.

President Obama's opponent, on the other hand, is deluded enough to think he can act like the CEO of America and get more done. A lot of voters might be attracted to that notion, but our system has never permitted a president to rule that way. Considering that Romney has already admitted that half the American people will never support him, and that he is not so interested in their problems anyway, Romney has no way of obtaining the power he claims he will wield to produce more change in Washington.

1 comment:

  1. I read Romney's comments on this earlier and I could feel the desperation in them coming off my computer screen.

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