The Presidents Mandate

The message sent by the American electorate on Tuesday was received loud and clear by sensible people. The President is on the right track, there is much to be done, but we need to work with him to ensure that this recovery remains on track and is not derailed by partisan obstructionism.

Republicans have already begun their demands by threatening to derail the fragile economic recovery. First Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader wrote the following:

“The American people did two things: they gave President Obama a second chance to fix the problems that even he admits he failed to solve during his first four years in office, and they preserved Republican control of the House of Representatives,” McConnell said in a statement. “The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the President’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control.”

Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader of the Senate

Mitch McConnell

McConnell clearly lays down the law to the incumbent by pointing out his failures. Having watched the political process over the last four years, the President  has succeeded beyond most expectations despite a Congressional Republican caucus that has refused to cooperate with the President on any of his signature efforts. The House unanimously rejected the American Care Act, effectively leaving almost fifty million Americans without realistic access to lifesaving medical procedures.

It was Mitch McConnell, who in 2008, said that his goal was to ensure that Obama was a one term President. With the essential work of governance for which he supposedly represents the people pushed aside, he believed and still does, that his work is to obstruct the work for which they were hired to depose a single person. It is a great shame that Democrats cannot impeach this man and have him thrown from office. It is not his place to obstruct.

There was a time when the Senate was considered the greatest deliberative body on Earth, and was much emulated around the globe. Today that august body is a shadow of its former self, a meeting hall for arthritic, geriatric anachronisms whose only raison d’etre appears to be fine wining and dining while the nation slides off into oblivion. Instead of meeting in a spirit of cooperation, to collaborate on legislation that improves the nation, they huddle in dark corners, bickering with one another, plotting the political downfall of liberals, socialists, communists or whichever vapid conspiracy they dreamt up that day.

John Boehner, Leader of the US House of Representatives

John Boehner

John Boehner made a similar statement on national TV today, using similar terms. His take on the Presidents win was that the president did not have a mandate to raise taxes on the very wealthy, since to do so would be to drive the entire train off the cliff, stifle growth and plunge us into the fiscal void.

It is strange that when President Clinton raised taxes ever so slightly on the wealthy, he created twenty-three million new jobs, and the largest surplus in decades. President Bush then destroyed that surplus with two ill-conceived and worthless wars and a give-away to the medical insurance industry.

Boehner immediately spoke about cutting social entitlements, as though it were Romney that is assuming the Presidential mantle. The rhetoric from the conservative right has not changed. They want to destroy the social safety net, gut Medicare and Social Security, food stamps and any government program on which they can lay their hands.

The House Republicans have decided that despite the clear mandate given to the President, and to Democrats in the Senate, they are going to implement Romney’s tax plan over the vote of the people. The connection to real democracy is increasingly lost by this Congress. This is the way democratic institutions are undermined and ultimately destroyed. Petulant intransigence is unbecoming a leader of the U.S. Congress.

Boehner claims that since the House Republicans still have a majority, they have the right to craft legislation, and the President is just someone, as Grover Norquist wants, with digits to sign legislation. He profoundly misunderstands the democratic principles on which this nation is founded. The idea of having three branches of government is that it forces people to work together to carry out the work of the people. If we were to use a parliametnary system, things would not work in the same way. It is not up to the President to suppliacte himself before Congress to get things done.

Congress and the President need to work together to craft legislation that can be agreed upon by all parties in a bipartisan way. Boehner and McConnell act as though they were an imperium and their vassal, the president can come crawling to them when they need him. This is how this nation will eventually  split apart, just as many nations in Europe are doing with their secessionist movements.

The House of Representatives looks as it does today not because it is the will of the people, but because of the Machiavellian way in which they have approached redistricting. Instead of drawing Congressional districts in an open, honest way, they have created districts that serve their electoral aspirations rather than districts crafted to better serve the people of their state. This means that they decide who their electorate should be and craft the district around that electorate. This allows them to be elected in every election cycle regardless of the makeup of their state.

The tactics used by Republicans chips away at the foundation of this democracy. This nation needs a constitutional amendment that will ensure that redistricting is done by independent, non-partisan groups. It is a really thorny issue, but without some intellectual muscle, this democracy is doomed to gridlock, deeper partisan divides, and ultimately break up of the country.

The Senate is far more democratically inclined, with an entire state voting for or against a particular senate candidate. There is no way to gerrymander the state. If we combine the Senate and the Presidency, it is clear that President Obama has a mandate from the people. He won the popular vote by a large margin, in addition to the electoral college. The House of Representatives should assist the President and stop impeding his progress. If the House insists on going down this road, they will be responsible for running this economy off the cliff.

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