A Collective Unconscious Intention
Now that the election is over and President Obama has been re-elected to a second term, the republican party is rationalizing that retaining control of the House is a mandate to continue to oppose him as he further implements the agenda he won the election promoting.
The fact that democrats not only retained control of The Senate but also picked up two additional seats and several in The House Of Representatives, hasn’t quite sunken in yet. This is probably the denial that follows the initial shock that they actually lost The White House. It is also conceivable that in an ironic twist, the electorate was so angry at the government for being fanatically partisan and stagnant for so long that they voted to maintain the status quo to force the two sides to compromise as “a collective unconscious intention.”
Of the two parties, the republicans bear more responsibility for the gridlock then the democrats or President Obama. After all it was The Republican Party who declared quite openly that their primary focus after the 2010 election was to make Obama a one term president. They filibustered any legislation he or the democrats sent for a vote by preventing many bills from reaching The Senate floor. They used this technique over 200 times during Obama’s first term.
Under the senate rules, any senator can petition for a filibuster, then It takes a 60 vote majority to override it rather then the usual 51, a difficult task when the democratic party has 54 votes and none of the republicans agree to cross party lines for fear of being alienated by the more vocal members of their party leadership. This is why the republicans have been accused of being obstructionists.
President Obama’s failure in his first term was to focus on policy and overlook the need to find his own way, as other presidents have, to finesse bipartisan support using the power of the presidency. Although somewhere, I feel, there has been an invisible undercurrent of racism at work that came out at times as personal attacks on him which were unusually vitriolic and specifically aimed at questioning his legitimacy to govern. This has happened far too frequently.
Nevertheless, It is pretty clear that the majority of the electorate believed former President Bill Clinton when he said at the Democratic National Convention, “Not I nor any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage that President Obama inherited when he took office.” Its clear that the path he undertook in 2008, although slow, is worth giving him four more years.
If President Obama can learn from the lost opportunities of his first term and the mistakes of other presidents, it could very well elevate his second term by giving him the gravitas he needs to foster more bipartisan support, especially since the republican goal to make him a one term president has failed.
For the republicans its a time for honest reflection and a reassessment of the influence that the extreme right has played in controlling the party and prompt them to recognize the changing demographics of the country and the ethnic minority influences that collectively will be the majority of the electorate in the near future.
Personally, my favorite model is The Papal Conclave. All the bishops are placed in seclusion, under lock and key from the outside world, in the Sistine Chapel, until they come to an agreement. Perhaps this approach could be adapted here when bipartisan gridlock interferes with the responsibility to govern.