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Sat Feb 16, 2013, 06:19 PM

Haters Gonna Hate — Why President Obama Needs To Govern For His Time


Haters Gonna Hate — Why President Obama Needs To Govern For His Time
February 15, 2013
by James Schlarmann


My advice to President Obama, were I to be given the chance to bend his ear, would be to ignore his haters. I’m not talking about governing from a place of such extremism that every effort he makes is thwarted by the Supreme Court later. I just mean that in life, you can’t convert your haters. There are going to be some that hate him, just as there are still those who hate Clinton. That’s the thing about modern day Republicans and Democrats in the White House. Clinton was a secret communist and Obama’s a foreign-born socialist. Sure, there are plenty among those 61 million who are not Obama haters, and simply disagree with his policies. You can still govern for those people, but you have to be willing to ignore their cries of foul…especially when you’re not trying to secure a third term for yourself.

The reasoning behind Murphy and other conservatives attempting to put a lid on Obama’s aspirations for his second term is really quite simple. They don’t have the numbers to stop him. Because they can try and dismiss and downplay the majority that Obama won last November, but it won’t change facts. The facts are that over 65 million people did in fact vote for a second Obama term. And they did so knowing full-well that he’d have a more progressive agenda this time around. What Murphy’s message to Obama seems to be is, “Ignore the people who put you there so you can pander to the people who don’t want you there in the first place.” Or simply put, “Don’t do what you want to do. Do what we want to do.” Apparently to people like Mike Murphy, the people who vote for the winners of elections are not as important as the losers.

Regardless of how one feels about Obama and his presidency, there is one consensus that cannot be ignored: Congress is broken. I plan to get more into that subject later, but the universally-acknowledged truth of the situation is that we have an extremely polarized and particularly useless batch of people representing us in Washington, D.C. Oh, there are bright spots. As long as I can type the words “Senator Elizabeth Warren,” for instance, I’ll be able to keep myself from being completely turned-off to Congress. But by and large Obama is trying to run a government that is one-third broken from the ground up. Because of that dysfunction, and the inherent lack of progress that comes with systemic uselessness, Obama has had to float the idea of getting some parts of his agenda passed via the dreaded executive privilege.

And therein is the tough decision Obama has to make. From what I’ve been able to tell, his new strategy in dealing with the recalcitrance of the Republicans in Congress has been to box them into a corner. He’s gone so far as to offer them deals that enrage his base in order to expose the entire country to the undeniable fact that the biggest reason the GOP is blocking all his efforts isn’t some ideological point they want to make; they just don’t like him and they never will. But whenever Obama offers the right some kind of deal that many of us on the left feel is too generous, the Republicans never take him up on the offer, choosing instead to bury themselves even deeper into their foxhole.

Nobody wants our president, our American president, to rule by executive fiat. Decrees from on high just don’t sit right with any of us, even if we agree with the meaning and intent behind the decree. But the fact of the matter is that every president must govern for his time. Lincoln suspended habeus corpus. FDR oversaw the development of the atomic bomb, and Truman ushered in the Nuclear Era by dropping one apiece on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We are imperfect people living in imperfect times. Should Obama choose to issue an executive order on marriage equality or immigration as he’s hinted, perhaps he would be excoriated by his political foes for “subverting the Constitution.” But it would just be more empty hypocrisy; nowhere in the Constitution does it say the filibuster can be abused to the point of requiring a two-thirds majority for every single vote.

We’d all prefer our government to work as intended. We’d prefer for even a divided government to find some way to work together. The bipartisan effort introduced by Senators from both parties is a sign that those kinds of things can still happen. But if one side proves unwilling to yield not to their political foe, but even to the overwhelming majority of their country (read: universal background checks for all gun purchases), then President Obama has no choice, having just won re-election, than to just put his head down, and push. Maybe that push comes via more very public pressure. maybe that push comes from an executive action. But as long as the president governs for his time history will be kind, and his legacy will be secure.

And that’s all any president can hope for in the end.

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