Yesterday Republicans took control of the Congress. They have a veto-proof majority in the House and a clear majority in the Senate. They already have a partial control of the Supreme Court depending on how Kennedy votes on various issues. The only branch of government that they do not control is the White House.
From being one of the most popular presidents in the USA when he was elected, he has dropped in popularity to the point that at least 33% of the electorate said that they voted against President Obama in yesterday’s exit polls. It is probable that he will go down in history as being ranked in the bottom 10 presidents of the USA.
While there are those who point to the ferrous Republican opposition to him, and the immediate wild reaction of the “take back America” groups, those are not the only reasons for the fall from popularity. President Bill Clinton is a good example of a President who was unpopular with a segment of the country, and was also vilified by them. Yet, he managed to work with a Republican Congress in his second term, have a functioning government, and pass budgets that lowered the deficit he inherited from President Reagan. He actually came out more popular from his second term than he entered that term.
The difference is that President Clinton was a politician. Nowadays, the term has become a totally negative term. The only problem is that we need politicians in power. Why? Because politicians know how to reach compromises. We have seen in both the House and the Senate what it means when we elect people who “stand on principle” which ends up meaning nothing more than that they do not know how to reach agreements even with their own fellow party members.
By making “standing on principle” the end all and be all of our judgments, we have elected a generation of leaders that cannot govern because they cannot compromise and/or do not know how to conduct fruitful negotiations that lead to a resolution that a majority can vote on.
President Obama came out of a community organizer background. Community organizers talk compromise, but are actually oriented to constant opposition to someone or some organization in order to get the resolution they want. He, also, does not know how to conduct fruitful negotiations, yes, how to make back-room deals.
The Republicans dealt with their “standing on principle” people this election, blocked them, and were able to get more party-oriented Republicans elected. As a result, they fielded eminently electable candidates, dare I say politicians. At this point, I think they have the edge on being able to govern this country.
Let us hope that gridlock will stop, if nothing else because the Republicans can now outvote the President. We need a budget. We need to look at the future. We need to pass laws that do not expire in a year and cause a regular cycle of crises every time they expire. We need a functional Congress.