Happy Anniversary, Mr. President

January 20, 2010 - by: Dan Oswald 8 COMMENTS

Today marks the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s Inaugural, and my guess is that he’s not doing a lot of celebrating. That’s because yesterday, in a special Senate election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat, Massachusetts voters elected a Republican to represent them.

President Obama and Democrats across the country must be asking themselves and each other, “How did this happen?”

My advice to Democrats is that they must not ask the “how” question but the “why” questions. Why would one of the most liberal states in the Union, one that did not have a single Republican representing it in Washington until last night, choose a Republican to fill Kennedy’s vacated seat? Why did a large lead by the Democratic candidate evaporate over the last few weeks? Why did a visit from President Obama on the candidate’s behalf do little to change the outcome of the race?

It appears to me that the President and Democrats in Washington have overestimated the mandate for change that they received from voters in the 2008 elections. They misread what voters were looking for when they claimed control of both the Senate and the House, as well as the White House. Those Democrats, who ran on the message of change, didn’t deliver the changes people were looking for.

The most telling sign of this is the health care bill that has so dominated both Houses of Congress for the past six months. Both the House and the Senate have managed to approve a health care bill despite the majority of voters being against the plans put forward by Congress. President Obama has stood behind health care reform despite voters’ increasing dissatisfaction with the bills and has paid a steep price as his job approval ratings have fallen.

So let’s look at this from an employee/employer relationship. You, Mr. Voter, are the employer. You have hired Mr. Obama and your senators and representatives to do a job for you in Washington. Mr. Obama and the Democrats have controlled two of the three branches of government for a full year now.  It’s time for their one-year review, and the special election in Massachusetts shows the results of that review for all to see. Here’s what I think the Democrats should have learned:

We wanted to see change and hired you to bring change to the country. We did not provide a blank check for every program. While the economy continues to struggle and unemployment is in the double-digit range, you’ve focused on health care reform that will cost American taxpayers billions of dollars. Do you remember, “It’s the economy, stupid”? Your party delivered that line not that many years ago. How soon we forget. First things first: Get me back to work. Restore my confidence in the American economy before you pursue the rest of your agenda.

You promised the end of partisan and “insider” politics. Instead, your bosses see more of the same, and it’s amplified by the fact that the Democrats had what they thought was a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. You’re cutting special deals with your colleagues in places like Nebraska to push your health care reform through. If you can’t get your own party to agree and have to coax them with special favors, then maybe the bill isn’t all that great. Massachusetts voters have said, “We want a bill that both sides of the aisle can agree on.” Now you’re forced to cooperate with the other party to put forward a piece of legislation that works for everyone.

Listen to your bosses. Voters have been telling you what they think about your health care reform in poll after poll taken of the American people. But you think you know what’s best for us, instead of representing us in the fashion that you were hired to do. Remember, he who hires you can also fire you. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been on record as saying that losing some seats in the House to pass the bill is a cost she is willing to pay. In other words, “if a few of us get fired over this, it’s worth it.” It appears that Mr. Voter is ready to pass out some pink slips in the next election.

When you’re in power, you might get the credit but you also get the blame. You asked for the responsibility when we hired you, and now you’ve got it. Now I must say that the Republicans aren’t any more popular than the Democrats, in fact they are less so. But Massachusetts voters weren’t looking at party. Instead, they were trying to make sure the process works the way it’s supposed to. The two-party system brings balance. There must be give and take. If one party has too much power, the voters are sure to bring that back into line, which is exactly what happened yesterday in Massachusetts.

What happens next? If the Democrats are smart, they’ll start to move toward the middle and govern in a less partisan way. It’s what the American people want, and it shows in the message they sent yesterday. And what about health care reform? My guess is that President Obama has spent a good deal of political capital on this and would like to get something through. If the Democrats are smart, they will work with their brethren from the other side of the aisle to come up with a plan that will fix a problem looking for a solution, but one that we can afford as a country. But who knows what tomorrow will hold? After all, Massachusetts just elected a Republican.

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8 COMMENTS

1 Gin
10:25:36, 22/01/10

I believe that you are right on target. Too many of our politicians get in office with empty promises, and continue to be re-elected because they have money behind them.

I say keep your word or get out office. There are too many career politicians in this country.

2 Bdavis
12:43:04, 22/01/10

Thank You for a bring to the front article. Now if they’ll just listen.

I think another way they can look at reform is hum maybe look at the billion of dollars that the insurance companies charge employers and employees in premiums, adminsitrative cost, network access and any other fee they can think of.

3 Sonya Crockett
08:32:22, 25/01/10

Just like it took the over weight person time and one bite after another to become obese, it will take time to fix an 8 year mess left behind for Obama. He is serving a 4 year term, not one year. If you think you can do a better job, run for office in the next election.

4 Lettie
10:12:24, 25/01/10

The title of this article is, “Happy Anniversay, Mr. President.” Are you saying that the health bill is all that the President has dealt with in in first year? You say keep it balance when it comes to getting a health care bill passed, you should have balanced this article as well. The President has done a lot of things in one year, as a matter of fact more than most of our previous ones. Listen, watch, learn, proceed; let’s see what happens next.

5 Rick
11:16:03, 25/01/10

Well said.

6 Dan Oswald
15:34:29, 25/01/10

Lettie,

Thanks for the feedback. Just to be clear, I am not saying that the health bill is all the President has dealt with in his first year. I am saying that the health care bill was “a sign” that the actions taken by the President and Congress do not appear to be consistent with what the voters were looking for when they cast a vote for change. It also appears to me that there is enough voter discord that they’re willing to make changes (i.e., the vote in Massachusetts) if they don’t see what they want from a politician.

7 Ken Lorenzen
06:54:51, 26/01/10

As usual this is a well written article. However, term Limits would do a lot to keep our elected officials (both sides of the aisle) more responsive to the voters and less bogged down with special interests. Currently, I have the feeling that we don’t seem to matter any more to most elected (and appointed) officials.

8 Jack
10:22:16, 25/02/10

Dan,

Your article is based on economic facts with correct assessment of the President’s first year in office and tumble from his high tower. This country has never been in such bad shape and the downward spiral, devastation, and despair of the American people has escalated exponentially since he took office. I am tired of the blame being placed on Bush and other former leaders who successfully brought the country this far. The fact is this is a great country, but the arrogant rebellion, lack of morals, and defiance we’ve seen over the past year of BO’s presidency is causing rapid destruction. The country is having increasing difficulty competing on a global level, and the effect will be felt for generations and generations.

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