Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Obama and the GOP

During the primaries I supported John Edwards and then Hillary Clinton. While I respected Obama's organizational skills and methodical approach to the campaign it was clear to me from the start that he is a small bore progressive.

Yet a lot of people are disallusioned with the stripped down stimulus barely passed and stalled out HCR.

Listen, during the primaries and the general Obama went on and on about bipartisanship and coming together to work on America's problems. In other words, he called for a return to the tradition where the majority party drives the agenda and the minority party largely seeks to influence rather than obstruct legislation they don't support. This was viewed largely as campaign rhetoric.

It's popular to take the statements of politicians and try to deconstruct them for the real meaning. In general, I think people politicians are pretty clear about what they want. And usually, politicians are extremely attached to the main themes of their campaigns. Do the break promises? Sure. But they do self identify with their primary issue. The disconnect isn't that politicians lie, it's that we don't listen.

So while Obama said he wanted HCR and other things, he was consistent that his number one goal was "change the tone" in Washington. I believed him. And he's acted consistently, making republican buy in the prerequisite for his major initiatives.

I think the approach as a goal is foolhardy: It seems to me to be predicated on the technocratic delusion that if we can identify the correct process then somehow our policy agreements disagreements go away. People disagree about stuff and should oppose things they don't believe in. I wish the democrats had done this on FISA and the Patriot Act.

And strategically, if you want to get an obstructionist minority to play ball you have to put pressure on the individual congressmen and women by challenging their seats.

All that said, I think it's important for disallusioned progressives to note the Democrats have actually passed a lot of legislation and been effective overall. It may be small bore and unsexy but it improves lives.


At Wednesday, February 17, 2010 9:06:00 AM, Blogger Stoked said...

Not unrelatedly, I heard Sam Donaldson say this morning that partisan politics is worse now than he's ever seen in his 50 years of covering Washington. (I forgot what a chore it is to make a blog comment--too much FBing, I guess!)

At Wednesday, February 17, 2010 9:54:00 AM, Blogger P-Dog said...

I am just impressed you understood what I was saying!


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