Two Paths Forward
Issue   |   Tue, 02/07/2012 - 22:29

Progress in the United States (or more specifically, progress in Congress) seems nearly impossible when we look at the deadlock that has plagued Obama’s presidency. The underlying fear is that President Obama, if re-elected, will be unable to unite the country and get anything done. The time for unity in this saga, however, is long gone.

America is at crossroads, and the outcome of this election will be crucial.

The first choice we have features the President being re-elected with a Democratic majority following him into Congress, much like in recent elections. Let me make it quite clear, however: if President Obama cannot feasibly bring a Democratic majority with him into Congress, the American people should not support him.

Many of us feel deep loyalty to our President, the man whose character has always been unquestionable but has been so unfairly treated. However, our first loyalty must be to progress. Governance is not and cannot be about who is right, but who is effective.

This first path features a Democratic majority in both houses, as it is the only real way forward under President Obama’s leadership, given the gargantuan weight of evidence that there can be no bipartisan cooperation whatsoever. President Obama needs such a majority so that he can act effectively in his efforts to improve the economic recovery. Enough attention has been paid to unity and cooperation. The President can now justify excluding Republicans on the basis that he has been there, done that. Who could now have the audacity to say, in the wake of repeated bipartisan committee failures, repeated deadlocks, the near shut-down of the federal government and extremist actions such as swearing never to raise taxes that there is more than faint hope for cooperation? The path forward for President Obama, if elected, is to gain Democratic majorities in both houses, and to use those majorities effectively. This is the one means of achieving progress.

Conversely, if a Republican candidate is elected, the path forward is one of compromise and potential cooperation. This is more likely to be the case because Democratic congressmen and senators are more willing to act reasonably. They are more willing to reach across the aisle and cooperate, rather than filibuster, delay and swear oaths. I will not comment on the potential reasons Republicans act (or at least are perceived to act) so unreasonably because vengeance is not the goal of this article, as vengeance should not be the goal of the Democrats after the next election cycle. As I said before, governance is less about being right and more about being effective. Democrats, understanding effective governance, will not refuse to pass bills even as the economy slumps and Americans suffer. For this reason, a Republican president can do well in spite of a Democratic congressional majority.

A Republican candidate need not win majorities in both houses in order to act. He can unify the country in a way that President Obama, never mind our hopes, and our tears, simply cannot. Such a Republican candidate can rally the unreasonable in his party, while at the same time reason with the reasonable of his opponents. This way, bills can be passed and Congress can move forward again. This path is one of compromise and unity, rather than one of vengeance.
Finally, to deal with this issue of vengeance. A lingering question hanging over the presidential and congressional elections is whether or not the American public will retaliate against Republicans. Will they vote their Republican representatives out purely because they have refused to work with Democrats despite the numerous times they have been courted? Do they deserve another term? This is the question that will be answered in the next round of elections. It is an opportunity for the American people to punish putting political tactics ahead of duty. It is an opportunity to condemn. If this condemnation comes, President Obama’s path is feasible. If it does not come, however, we will have a Republican president and Congress. In either situation there will be progress, which is what we really want in the United States. The difference, however, is that in only one situation will there be justice. But it’s like I said — progress is more important than justice.

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