08.13.2014 1

Barack Obama: His own political worst enemy

messiah_complexBy Tom Toth

Barack Obama has, at long last, discovered why his administration has been an unmitigated public policy failure. Just this week, Obama expounded upon the presently inefficient state of Washington politics in a post-election campaign speech to supporters, musing “Our politics are dysfunctional… societies don’t work if political factions take maximalist positions.”

And correct he is! With a lone pithy sentence Barack Obama uncovered the single reason behind the political breakdown of every single policy initiative pursued by his administration to date. To clarify, Obama’s quote was, unsurprisingly, a direct attack on House Republicans for maintaining the audacity to spare the country an unadulterated onslaught of “maximalist” public policy pushed exclusively by the nation’s political left.

Barack Obama has explicitly scoffed at negotiation and compromise preceding any action on his policy platform, which led — non-coincidentally — to his political impotence. Look at any issue pushed by the administration: healthcare, Wall Street regulations, immigration, environmental regulations, “Cap and Trade,” arbitrarily disengaging with Iraq and Afghanistan, education, the federal budget; at which point, and on what issue, has Obama and his party showed even the most minute willingness to compromise and negotiate across the political aisle? One will struggle to find a coherent answer. Barack Obama has maintained an unwavering commitment to pursue, with near exclusivity, comprehensive policy initiatives that contain virtually nothing supported by anyone, save the base of his own political party.

In the same speech, Obama continued, “And the more diverse the country is, the less it can afford to take maximalist positions.” Again, the President’s diagnosis is correct. To be more specific, the more polarized the country is, the less capable it will be to effectively pursue maximalist positions. Barack Obama entered office with a Congressional supermajority, with which he forced maximalist policies like the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and Dodd-Frank through the people’s Congress, expending more political capital from the well of his first political mandate than he had probably anticipated. The consequence was the the “Tea Party” movement and the November 2010 midterm elections which produced a split government, and therefore a change in Obama’s ability to dictate policy decisions.

Since then, the American people have twice elected a Congress incapable of passing the maximalist legislative schemes that defined the first quarter of Obama’s administration. Barack Obama is just yet to deduce that it was, in fact, his own policies that caused the nation to vote for political gridlock in the first place. He’s rightly diagnosed the underlying purpose of Washington’s gridlock, but the man who gave his Presidential victory speech in front of Greek columns — embracing the messianic imagery associated with his candidacy — is now absurdly incapable of recognizing the fact that his political honeymoon with the American people is over.

The American people have twice voted to deny Obama a cooperative, bicameral majority in Congress, effectively killing the electoral mandate the President had on his first 24 months on the job. The President, in response, has petulantly rejected this reality and, rather than pivot toward a new operating relationship with a split Congress, he has transformed his presidency into an uninterrupted campaign trail.  This embarrassing attempt to recapture the proverbial lightning of his first campaign in a bottle to rekindle his former political power in Washington has failed miserably.

Republicans, who were elected due to their opposition to Obama’s own “maximalist policies,” were not convinced by Obama’s never-ending campaign, and Obama’s approval with the American people has dropped to the lowest level it’s ever been.

It is increasingly likely that a third political statement will be delivered by the American people as Democratic supporters of Obama’s maximalist policies will likely surrender both Congressional chambers to Republican leadership. Perhaps this third election of policy rejection will convince the President that what the American people have mandated since the third year of his presidency is negotiation and compromise from the Oval Office.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Tom Toth is the Digital Content Director for Americans for Limited Government.

Copyright © 2008-2024 Americans for Limited Government