Leading By Example

This past week witnessed one of the most bizarre political feats in recent memory. Forty seven Republican US Senators signed and sent a letter to the Iranian Government asserting that President Obama’s current negotiations with Iran were subject to Senate approval and any agreement could be null if the Senate or the next President felt differently.

For the Senate to hold a different view on foreign affairs is not unusual, especially if the Senate is controlled by the opposition party. For the Senate (and especially one party) to meddle in foreign affairs negotiations, however, is quite a different matter.

There are all sorts of reasons for this unusual letter, probably as many explanations as there are pundits. Explanations range from Senator Tom Cotton’s (the letter’s author) ambitions to become a future Presidential candidate to doubling down on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Congressional speech to utter disgust with President Obama and anything the President tries to achieve (without regard to the consequences). Take your pick, each fits the deed.

Americans, as a rule, don’t pay great attention to politics but over time voters do form opinions. Most Americans realize, despite GOP words to the contrary, that the economy has steadily improved over President Obama watch. Most Americans cannot identify any disadvantage with the Affordable Care Act. despite over 45 House votes to repeal ACA, and many know someone who has been significantly benefited by being able to obtain coverage. And slowly many Americans are recognizing that their sons and daughters are not being sent into wars far from our shores for reasons we simply do not understand. These slow awakening thoughts are all in direct disagreement with what the GOP has and continues to tell voters. Hmmm.

In 2016 there will be another Presidential election. Democrats stand an excellent chance to retain the White House and possible win back control of the Senate. A large measure of this future success will come from voters rejecting the steady succession of negative (and incorrect) GOP propaganda.
All’s well that ends well. Hmmm.

I don’t think it is that simple.

The GOP’s negative and vicious attacks on President Obama have done considerable collateral damage. If US Senators and Representatives can speak so vehemently against the President and ignore his requests for appointment confirmations, what broader message does this send to Americans? If these men and women elected to such high positions show little or no respect to the President, why should the average citizen respect any government institution?

I recall President George W Bush’s terms and the criticism he received from Democrats. During “W’s” years, the press was far more questioning and critical of his policies. The press pointed out the purposeless basis for the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the reckless nature of the Administrations approach to regulations. Everyone was horrified when the global financial system nearly imploded in 2008 and the world’s economy slipped into a deep recession following it. None of these events resulted from bickering between Democrats and Republicans, or from a deadlock between the President and Congress.

The Bush short comings and outright failures can be traced directly to the Administration’s policies and implementations, not to a dysfunctional Congress.

Since 2010, however, President Obama’s “loyal opposition” has acted differently. Their criticism of policies has morphed into unrestrained disdain for the President himself. This example cannot be good for America or for the institution of government itself.

The GOP personalization of opposition to Democrat policies probably began during President Bill Clinton’s term. Clinton, however, was politically more astute than President Obama, and found ways to beat the GOP in the court of public opinion. So far President Obama has not found his voice in speaking to enough Americans so that they understand the negative impact GOP practices are having on the Country.

With the apparent unlimited funding flowing into politics, it is not likely Americans will be able to separate fact from fiction with respect to President Obama. The next President which I predict will be a Democrat will result from Americans overall satisfaction with life in general, not from high confidence in President Obama. To this extent the GOP will have succeeded.
The unintended consequence, however, of the current GOP behavior will be a marked deterioration in Americans’ confidence in government, and even more important, their duty to help the country operate successfully.

Whether the GOP’s behavior results from the influence of special interests or from the quality of the recently elected (with special interest money) Congressional members is unclear. It is clear that the recently elected GOP Congress members are largely lacking in moderation and balance. While these men and women may be highly intelligent, they are very raw around the edges.

We can only hope that experience (they will soon see that their actions will not attain their goals) will mature their legislative abilities.


Explore posts in the same categories: 2106 Presidential election, Barack Obama, congress, Democratic Party, GOP, Politics, Republican Party

3 Comments on “Leading By Example”

  1. handselkoan Says:

    Not to argue any particular point you make–politics is as politics does, you could say, and I don’t see anything incorrect in what you posted–but I feel compelled to make a remark. You write “If these men and women elected to such high positions show little or no respect to the President, why should the average citizen respect any government institution?”

    Valid thought. But why should we have any respect for either Congress OR the Chief Executive when they both ignore the will and the needs of the people? That seems more critical.

    • handselkoan, thanks for the comment, and the polite way you have phrased them… With respect to “But why should we have any respect for either Congress OR the Chief Executive when they both ignore the will and the needs of the people?”, it all comes down to “who are the people” and “what do they mean by being ignored”…

      Our electorate is pretty evenly split, about 30% Democrat, 30% Republican, and about 40% “independent”. The “independent” vote seems to move from one party to the other and is noted as either a Republican win or a Democrat win. President Obama won the popular vote twice which could be viewed as the majority (of those voting) preferred him. I would think this group might feel disappointed in aspects of President Obama’s performance but not ignored.

      The secret of America’s democracy and its lasting success, IMO, is that we accept the leadership of whomever wins the election. We may strongly believe the new President’s policy are wrong, but until the next election, that President is our leader…
      The Republican faction in Congress has been morphing into a different type of behavior since Bill Clinton’s days. They appear to think that just because the particular individual elected Congress member was elected by a district which let say was Tea Party or Conservative Republican, this entitles them to try any technique if they cannot simply vote for their point of view, including by not limited to defaulting on our national debt, shutting down the government, and writing to Iran…

      There will be to my regret payback for this behavior…

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