The promise of hope and change that engulfed the ’08 campaign has so far failed to materialize and seems more like rhetoric of an easier time. Just three months ago, the promise was eliminating “business as usual,” establishing new found ethical standards and fostering true bipartisan-based solutions in Washington. Barack Obama said with resounding confidence and inspirational fortitude that he could change Washington and America, given the chance. With one of the country’s largest national crises at hand when he took office, Obama’s first chance to deliver on his promise came and went. The honeymoon period and high approval ratings gave him near invincibility to act on the principles he had established, but instead he squandered the opportunity.
In his first big act as President, Barack Obama excluded Republicans in drafting an enormous bill, gave control of the stimulus to the divisive congressional Democrats, and then condemned Republicans for stalling its passage. The president’s first formal “effort” to attract Republican support was in his visit to Congress to discuss the bill after it was written. Thus, rather than presenting a plan that garnered the support of both parties, party lines were even more solidly drawn as Republicans were labeled as arrogant and stubborn. I am not arguing that a purely Democrat-based economic bill cannot succeed or that the Republican Party is the embodiment of economic genius. Regardless of how well the bill will work or not work, Obama’s approach to its creation was in stark contrast to his election promises and ultimately insulting to Republicans. Ours is a two-party system – for good reasons – and a bill that attracts only three votes from one party is hardly a bipartisan bill.
Rather than capitalize on his statements made during the campaign of hope and promise, Obama has used fear to substantiate his claims that Republicans are only making matters worse by delaying the signing of the bill. His previous remarks of economic hope based on middle-class fortitude have been replaced by hope based only on Government help. His grim outlook has made Republicans seem villainous for disclosing their dissatisfaction; he even suggested they are not capable or willing to help the American people. It was ridiculous to expect the Republican Party to blindly support an extremely high-spending bill in a time of economic crisis. It goes against their party principles. Regardless, the president has spent more time labeling and ignoring them than finding the bipartisan type of solution he promised. It feels more like we’re on the campaign trail for 2012 than on the high road of inclusion and cooperation President Obama promised to take.
Whether or not you support the stimulus package, the fact of the matter is the economy will recover sooner or later; it always has. Whether it’s because of this recently passed stimulus package or simply the resiliency of the American workforce may never be known. Nevertheless, the disappointment and bitterness that Obama has built in Congress less than one month into his presidency will undoubtedly affect his ability to lead and work with Republicans in the future. To combat that, Obama will be forced to rely on his supermajority. Legislation will be passed and bills will be signed, but they won’t be as promised; they won’t be bipartisan.
I don’t believe he intended this. There is no doubt the man has been handed a mess with abnormally high expectations. He does not possess any special powers to revamp the economy in a month’s time; to expect such success is simply unrealistic. Unfortunately, much of the valuable support he might have received from his opposing party to help get this country moving in the right direction will likely be lacking in the future.