By: Amy Lutz
During his campaign, then candidate Barack Obama promised the end of “politics as usual,” and wanted to end the “politics of the past.” Almost two years into his term, states are literally boycotting one another, the voice of the American people is barely more than a whisper in the turbulent storm of Washington politics, and bipartisanship has simply become a myth. This culture of dissent and harsh disagreement has brought out the extremes on both sides of the aisle. Unlike on our southern border, there is an impassable wall separating Republican and Democratic politicians, and that barrier has begun to creep into the private sector. Seemingly, Obama did actually maintain one of his campaign promises. He was successful in ending the “politics of the past” that he viewed as detrimental to the legislative process. To the chagrin of the American people, the “politics of the present” are much more turbulent and staunchly partisan than ever. 

According to Ronald Reagan, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.’” Once again, The Gipper has been proven right. Like all big-government progressives, Barack Obama campaigned on the promise of solving a laundry list of issues through the government, failed miserably, and made the original problems much, much worse. There’s health care, illegal immigration, congressional partisanship, and energy just to name a few. In each case, Barack Obama’s response has done nothing more than exacerbate the already volatile situation in Washington. Most politicians will sell their soul to at least say that they are going to please everyone, but something has changed. Since the Obama administration has taken power, no longer are most politicians even cognizant of their constituents. Most of this is due to President Obama and the Democrats’ perpetual decisions to enact legislation or make comments that alienate a majority of Americans. This phenomenon is plainly evidenced in the administration’s handling of health care, the Arizona illegal immigration law, and simple partisan debates themselves. Therefore, the political establishment is almost fully detached from the American people, and if we are not wise in November, the Obama Express is going to take us far down a track that will create and unrecognizable America. 

After the stimulus packages, TARP, auto bailout, and cash for clunkers, President Obama and the Democratic supermajority put their foot on the gas and rammed Health Care reform down the throats of the American people. A broad piece of legislation that took over 1/6 of the economy was passed even though only 33% of Americans were (and are) favorable towards Universal Health Care. Too make matters worse, 34 Democrats and every single Republican voted against the bill. What happened to bipartisanship, Mr. President? After all, wasn’t it you that said we could not pass such sweeping legislation without a broad consensus? During the campaign, candidate Barack Obama said: 
“And what I believe that means is we've got to break out of what I call, sort of, the 50-plus-one pattern of presidential politics. Which is, you have nasty primaries where everybody's disheartened. Then you divide the country 45 percent on one side, 45 percent on the other, 10 percent in the middle -- all of them apparently live in Florida and Ohio -- and battle it out. And maybe you eke out a victory of 50-plus-one, but you can't govern. I mean, you get Air Force One, there are a lot of nice perks to being president, but you can't deliver on health care. We're not going to pass universal health care with a 50-plus-one strategy.” Barack Obama was trying to make the point that Hillary Clinton would have been a “50 plus-one” president, and that he, Obama, would not. Considering that the Democrats had to pull out a reconciliation bill in order to pass heath care reform, I am having a hard time seeing how Obama is not a “50-plus-one” president. Now that health care has been passed, in Obama’s own words, can he “still govern?” Obama also made a point to note during Bush’s presidency: “What I worry about would be that you essentially have still two chambers, the House and the Senate, but you have simply majoritarian absolute power on either side, and that's just not what the Founders intended. You know, the Founders designed this system, as frustrating it is, to make sure that there's a broad consensus before the country moves forward.”

The President’s analysis is correct, but his application is not. The Founders intended for bipartisan consensus, not a consensus of Democrats. Republicans and conservative Democrats are being ignored and criticized right and left in Washington. Is this the change we could believe in? The “politics of the past” that Obama campaigned to change have been replaced by this “majoritarian absolute power.” Starting with health care, President Obama has gone against the will of the people time and time again, thus creating the volatile “politics of the present” that we see today.

President Obama’s most polarizing decision that has sparked the most outrage is perhaps his decision to stand against the Arizona immigration law, SB 1070. Without even reading the law, Obama claimed that it would cause people to be “harassed” by the police when “taking their kids out to get ice cream,” in other words, it would allow for racial profiling. Not only is the law written specifically to prevent that from happening, it’s also supported by 60% of the American population. Many people feel that it does not go far enough. Yet, the President and his supporters continue to criticize the law with baseless accusations. The longer the President takes such a position, the more support he loses. The DOJ is even suing Arizona for the law based upon the fact that is opens the door to racial profiling, even though 56% of Americans oppose such a lawsuit. The President’s remarks as well as the potential lawsuit have caused more actual violence than any other issue, even health care. Countless “pro-immigrant” rallies have been held around the country, some of which have become dangerous. Twenty four people were arrested after clashing with the police in Chicago and three people were beaten by protesters in San Francisco. Rocks and bottles have been thrown at police. What makes matters worse is the fact that the Federal government is doing almost nothing to stop the violence or disagreement, actually, it can be said that they could be accelerating it. The Department of Education and the U.S. Border Control have both cancelled events in Arizona due to the controversy. The entire city of Los Angeles has started a boycott against the state of Arizona. Is it possible that Los Angeles would be boycotting Arizona if the liberal establishment and the President were not making such a fuss over SB 1070? Of course not, considering that the laws on the California border are very similar to those that will soon be enacted in Arizona. This controversy has become “politics as usual” times ten. 

Outside of any specific issues, President Obama has not held back in causing fierce political disagreement by publically chastising Republicans and his opposition multiple times. In his most recent State of the Union Address Obama stated, “What frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day… a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. The confirmation of- I’m speaking to both parties now”. This message seems to be a call for increased bipartisanship, but in actuality, it appears to be a direct reference to the Republicans in Congress, which does nothing but create more partisanship. Although Obama says that he is speaking to “both parties,” it can be assumed that he is speaking to Republicans with the addition of the latter portion because of the Republican Party’s across-the-board opposition to the health care reform bill. At the time of his speech, the only party that seemed to be “obstructing” a bill in his mind was the Republican Party. The Democrats’ supermajority allowed them to pass bills with little or no Republican support. In this one instance, the rhetoric weaved by a “great rhetorician” such as Barack Obama actually failed to deliver the message desired. In a more recent example, President Obama blasted Republicans in his weekly radio address for voting against ending debate on the new “jobs bill” (aka Stimulus), saying that he was disappointed to see “dreary and familiar politics get in the way of our ability to move forward on a series of critical issues that have a direct impact on people's lives." I would like to first point out that this vote was bipartisan…in the dissent. All of the Republicans AND some Democrats voted to continue debate. President Obama has not seemed to grasp the fact that people can actually have legitimate reasons to oppose measures that he supports. It is the president himself who has not broken away from the “politics as usual.” The fierce partisanship that President Obama apparently supports fuels the “politics of the present.” 

As we near the midterm elections, the political landscape of the United States is tumultuous at best, most of which can be attributed to the administration’s handling of each “crisis” they face. I truly believe that Obama sees himself as a one-term President, considering that he has done nothing to cool tempers and increase bipartisanship in Washington. Time and time again, the President has taken the position that alienates the greatest number of Americans for every issue, from health care to illegal immigration. Real bipartisanship does not seem to be in the cards for the President, despite his promise to end the “politics as usual.” The “politics as usual” that were evident during the Bush administration and his predecessors were filled with disagreement, but Washington was on more of a “Partisan Light” track as opposed to the current single-party rule we see today. President Obama has done the opposite of what his supporters voted for him to do. He promised “hope and change” and gave us hopelessness and unwanted change. The question is, why? Why has the president fueled the volatile partisanship time and time again? I suppose Rahm Emanuel can answer that one based upon his quote: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Since the Obama administration has taken power, they have seized even more control with each successive “crisis.” The supposed health care “crisis” gave us health care reform, illegal immigration gave us boycotts and rumors of amnesty, and the BP oil spill gave us a drilling moratorium that will prove to destroy the oil industry if it stands. Utilizing a “good crisis” seems to be this administration’s priority, and as such, the “politics of the past” that Obama sought to end have only been replaced by a political landscape that is more bitter than ever. 
 


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