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And Now for the Really Hard Part...Governing

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SidneyCarton Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:25 PM
Original message
And Now for the Really Hard Part...Governing
The parties have ended, the Champagne has been drunk. The crowds have all gone home, and with them the cries of acclamation and festivity that tend to mark a new and hopeful beginning. Now begins the real work, the work of governing. Under ideal circumstance (of which the current situation is nothing close) President Obama would manage to disappoint those who have worked so hard to get him elected. The reason for this is simple: Governing in a democracy requires compromise, negotiation and a fair amount of debate and wrangling. As such, many of the ideas and ideals espoused during the campaign will likely be altered, and may not be as easily recognizable in the byzantine language of legislation as they were in President Obamas soaring and inspiring rhetoric. (I realize that laws are written in the way that they are for good reason, but there is rarely anything terribly inspiring about the bland, legalistic language which forms the protective hedge around our rights and freedoms.)

President Obama has tried in numerous speeches since the election to prepare us for a degree of letdown. He has promised that there will be obstacles, setbacks and false starts. He has not promised quick fixes to any of the complex problems which we face, indeed he has actually promised quite the contrary, he has promised carefully crafted solutions to our present problems, to form institutions which will hopefully persist long past his own term of office. None of this will be terribly romantic, and quite a bit of it will be wonkish, technical legislation which will not make for good 15-second soundbites, nor will it likely satisfy anyone who hopes for a swift reorganization of our body politic to better reflect the ideals of social justice. Indeed the next few years are likely to be both frustrating and at times disappointing as we realize that under peaceful circumstance change usually does not come easily, nor does it come instantaneously.

And then of course there are the opposition. Far from shriveling up like the Wicked Witch of the West in the midst of a sudden rainstorm, they are ready and all too willing to obstruct the Presidents Agenda. Much as we are about to learn, the Republicans have already realized that it is far easier to oppose and complain than govern and be responsible, and as they are by nature averse to responsibility, we may expect them to play their role as obstructors to the hilt. Hence it should be clear, even the least of President Obamas Agenda items are unlikely to pass without a fight. What began last year didnt end yesterday, the conflict just entered a new phase with different rules and problems.

Which is where we come in. President Obama rode into office on a wave of mobilized public opinion. In our current society, this opinion is usually only mobilized for short moments like elections for concrete political objectives and then discarded and abandoned. President Obama is trying something different. He is attempting to encourage many who became engaged politically during this election to remain so and there by act as a pressure group on the legislature in counterbalance to the special interests that are already there. As such it is hopeful that many of the more progressive parts of his agenda (health care, alternative energy) may get passed despite opposition because public pressure may sway some of the more moderate who have a tendency to waiver. This will be particularly important in the Senate, where (assuming Franken is seated sometime before Armageddon) we will lack the number of seats necessary to ram legislation through without fear of serious obstruction.

Lest I be considered ungratetful, I do not mean to say that the herculean labors put out by those who struggled mightily to get President Obama elected were unimportant, or easy as they were neither. I merely wish to state that the struggle is not over and the work has only begun. Thel labor to come will seem less rewarding and much more frustrating than that which came before, but it will render far more concrete results. In other words, the fun part has just begun.
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:36 PM
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1. I agree, but a couple things about yesterday made me optimistic...
Firstly, his inauguration speech was a remarkable damning of the last 8 years. He specifically called out several principles of the BushCo/neo-con ideology that he said were "over."

What I think is remarkable was that he didn't have to make that speech. He could have made a speech where he stuck more to talking only about the future, and not specifically about what was wrong with the Bush presidency. And I don't think anybody would have been disappointed. But he deliberately stuck his neck out, and that did more than anything else to make me think that Obama isn't fucking around. He really planted a stake in the sand with that speech.

Secondly, he halted all the Bush declarations currently outstanding. Again, it was a concrete signal that he's not letting the uber-FAIL of the last 8 years stand.

Thirdly, back to the speech, he didn't waste anybody's time with a bunch of happy-talk. We have a bunch of really serious problems right now, and his speech didn't fluff any of that up in the name of inaugural celebration.

I don't know how successful he's going to be in the face of the obstructionist GOP caucus, or the Village Courtiers, but I'm now feeling pretty confident that he's not going to take any shit, and when you are dealing with bullies, that's more than half the battle.
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SidneyCarton Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:39 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Agreed.
If nothing else, Obama is businesslike and not one for chit-chat. He has shown a tremendous energy and determination to fix things and alter the course of our nation. I frankly think that much of the judgment already thrown at him was premature. We will know him by the choices he makes, and from yesterday alone I too, see reason for optimism.
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
3. Yes, and he also made it clear
in the interviews last night that he can't do it without all of us working as part of our community.
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