Barack Obama has made history as the first African-American president of the United States, something we can all take pride in. But Obama’s opportunity to bring historical change has only just begun. The president-elect has clearly won on a platform of bipartisanship and unity, a promise that the growing number of moderates in this country are itching to see fulfilled. His mission to unite conservatives and liberals could reshape American politics, however, Obama’s greatest barrier to progress will be from those within the party who elected him.
Obama could usher in a new type of Democratic party, for he has proposed tax cuts, fiscal responsibility and political moderation as the hallmarks of his policy making. This is good news for the economy, as lowering taxes has been proven to increase government revenue over time. For example, every instance of a cut in the capitol gains tax in recent history has resulted in more money collected from the tax. If the Democratic Party adopted a platform of pro-growth economic policies, combined with efforts to reign in spending, they would have more capital with which to invest in their social agendas and safety nets. John F. Kennedy, a popular Democratic president, pursued the exact same philosophy by cutting income taxes but never abandoned his commitment to domestic programs. Such a platform would create a broader Democratic coalition, as it would draw in economically conservative and socially liberal moderates that fear the tax and spend tendencies of the left yet desire government action on social justice.
With an ever-increasing debt and a deepening recession, our country cannot afford to suffer tax and spending increases that are typical of Democratic leadership, and Obama seems to have recognized that. Indeed, if Obama lives up to his campaign promises of lower taxes, we could see greater investment and job creation, which will pull us out of this economic downturn, as well as more opportunity for spending on social programs later in his term. Obama will have single-handedly reshaped the image and direction of the future Democratic party to something far more economically pragmatic.
Such a shift in policy and ideological direction, however, will be insufferable for the far left. Married to their idea of punishing the rich, spending beyond their means and raising taxes in spite of economic hardship, the leaders in Congress will attempt to hijack Obama’s bipartisan approach with their radical agendas. The Democratic Congress, suffering from almost single-digit approval ratings, is now led by a clear majority of liberals that feel this election is a mandate for every leftist scheme they can imagine. On the contrary, exit polling in this election has shown that only two out of 10 people who voted identified themselves as liberal, while the rest claimed to be moderate or conservative. The country has not asked for a radical shift to the left, but has sought moderate, pragmatic leadership from the center.
Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi may well attempt to pull Obama farther to the left by sending to his desk bills that contain increases in the Capital gains and payroll tax, changes to card check that will eliminate secret ballots, as well as forms of economic protectionism, among many other things. Obama will have to stand up to his own party leaders, the people that gave him the money and support he needed to win the election, if he is going to reject these encroachments of liberalism and demand more bipartisan solutions. If Obama can successfully bend the will of the radical elements and special interests within his party, he will have proven to be a leader of the highest caliber. He will gain incalculable amounts of respect and political mileage from those in the center and guarantee the future success of his newly formed Democratic coalition. However, a war with his own party will be hard, hard fought. Let us hope he is up to the challenge.