Friday, January 06, 2012

Why President Obama Will Be Re-Elected

This first week of the year is devoted to posts on the big political picture.

The main reasons that I think President Obama will be re-elected is that:

a) he is the incumbent, so the sizable majority that voted for him last time will want to vote for him again;

b) the economy is improving; and

c) the Republicans will be unable to unite around an exciting and unifying candidate.

President Obama has been a very good president.

Conditions in the country and in the world are improving.

Obama is playing the long game of politics very well. When he was first elected, he knew he had about 18 months to pass the main pieces of his positive agenda.  He did, most importantly by passing universal health care. He has also been relentlessly bi-partisan, working with any Republicans who were willing to help, compromising the way any competent politician must, and keeping his eye on the ball.  He has had even greater successes in foreign policy.  And he has waited until the turn into his re-election year to push back harder against the Republican leadership's intransigence.

The Republicans have played into Obama's hands.  They have positioned themselves as against health care for millions, against saving the auto industry, against regulating the investment "banks" that nearly destroyed the world economy, against regulating the payday lenders that batten on the poor and working class, against supporting democratic movements in the Arab world, against reducing payroll taxes for people who live on their earnings, against raising taxes on the hugely rich.  Most importantly, they have positioned themselves against compromising and working together in the way that government absolutely requires.

To take a signal example, I think universal health care will be a pillar of what most Americans appreciate about government, as they do Medicare and Social Security.  Republicans also opposed Medicare and Social Security, but at least some of them voted for it.  Not universal health care, though - the Republican leadership made sure their party was unanimously against it.  And they call it "Obamacare."  This short-sighted intransigence will come back to bite them for years to come.

The Republican Party is also suffering a three-way civil war among its establishment, social conservative, and libertarian wings.  The Tea Party, in particular, is almost as much anti-Republican as it is anti-Democratic. I believe the Tea Party has shot its bolt and will be irrelevant after this election.  But in the mean time, they will exacerbate the intransigence that is undermining the Republican Party as an actual instrument of government.


Nate Kratzer said...

For the most part I agree, but I think your analysis of the 2012 electoral impact of Obamacare is off. In 2012 it will either be a slight negative for Obama or neutral. In the long run it will be positive for the democrats, but it is still polling negatively and I don't think anything will happen to change that until after 2014 when more of the laws provisions kick in. I see it as being close to neutral though...most of those who are strongly opposed to it were never going to vote for Obama anyway.

I agree that if the economy continues to grow slowly without any setback Obama should easily win re-election. But I suppose I am not as optimistic about the situation in Europe as you are, so I am only comfortable with and if/then claim about the economy and the 2012 election.

Mac said...

I disagree with your praises for the President. I think he has been the second least successful president in my lifetime, one that stretches from Truman. I chalk part of that up to the fact that he was the least politically prepared president to take office in our history.

He did not use the power of the office to drag the center away from the lunatic fringes of their respective parties--the TP on the right and the Pelosis on the left.

LBJ would have called John and Harry over for drinks and a good ol' Texas whuppin and gotten the job done.

President Obama knows how to run FOR president; he just doesn't know how to BE president.

With control of both houses, and a filibuster-proof Senate, it still took him two years to get a health care bill passed that a majority (or a very large minority)of Americans don't want. And it is NOT universal health care--there are still millions of Americans who will not be covered.

Being a partisan myself, I know how difficult it is to try to look at your own guy with a degree of neutrality. I may have demonstrated that here, but when you wrote "He has also been relentlessly bi-partisan, working with any Republicans who were willing to help," I had to choke. I suggest that he was willing to do so only if they rolled over and did what he --or rather, Nancy and her buddies--wanted.

That being said, you may well be right about the effect of internal strife in the Republican Party. I am afraid that a Republican Party that still hasn't figured out just who it is and what it stands for may hand the job to the President for another four years.

In the 19th Century, there was a popular slogan that has been attributed to a number of different sources. "God looks out for little children, drunks, idiots, and the United States of America." I pray that He is still looking because the next four years are going to be tough.

Ultimately, this election mirrors the election of 1860. A bitterly divided electorate is going to the polls. The results of the 1860 election led to violence. I don't see that happening today, but the anger and angst are similar and will be expressed in some way or another, and we had better be ready for that. Sadly, there are no Abe Lincolns in sight in either party.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that the first two comments on the two-day valentine to President Obama have been thoughtful and not reactionary. I hope to follow in their example.

Although I enthusiastically voted for the President in the last election--this fall I will vote for him while holding my nose. (unless, by some miracle, John Huntsman becomes the Republican nominee).

I tend to agree with Mac when assessing the President’s bipartisanship—and I measure it by how much a president gets things done in a bipartisan manner—not by how much the President talks about compromise. Looking back on the 1990s, President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich tried then (and continue to try) to take credit for the same positive things. Economic growth, balanced budgets, welfare reform, and budget surpluses are recognized by almost everyone as good news and they were accomplished by a Democratic president and a Republican congress—that’s bipartisanship.

Under President Bush there were also plenty of bipartisan accomplishments, although in retrospect, many Democrats (including me) don’t feel very good about them. The Bush tax cuts, the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, and No Child Left Behind all became law with significant Democratic support.

In the end though, bipartisan or not, I think that the best predictors of whether President Obama or President Romney address the nation next January will be the unemployment rates in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Nevada.