So it clearly has been far too long, but in my defense, it was a long semester, with my attention unequally devoted to other online platforms, such as Twitter. However, my Twitter account doesn’t seem to want to work right now (noooo, I’ve only updated twice today!), so I suppose I might as well reacquaint myself with the sweet world of blogging, which requires no APA citations or specific margin sizes.
Recent months have made me reshape my political views. When asked, my standard answer is now “I believe in compromise.” Maybe my answer of “I believe in compromise” is unnecessary; perhaps it would be easier if I simply considered myself a moderate like the other seventy percent of America. However, it was after reading the Audacity of Hope for the first time that I honed in on the force of compromise in government. All liberal politics aside, Obama’s key message throughout the novel focused on compromise and the idea that as Americans, we all essentially want the same things — we simply don’t agree on how to achieve said thing.
I see the severity of the partisan battles in government, but I still chose to recognize the inherent power in government as an agent for change. I realize that I have idealized views, seeing government as a way to ensure our freedoms and protect those who need it most. Those very intentions — expanding rights in an attempt to protect those who need them most — are the ones that have lead us to where we are today.
I began to think about all this while watching endless coverage about President Obama agreeing to work with Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax. Yes, that’s correct — Obama, who vigorously pushed his agenda and legislative initiatives through Congress without garnering any substantial Republican support for the last two years, has just compromised with the Republicans in favor of protecting the middle class. Perhaps this compromise is noble. But, what happens when we consider everything else this action has compromised? Turn on any news program in the next few days and I guarantee you’ll see a reel of Obama campaign footage where he claims in each clip that he will not extend the Bush tax cuts. Yet, here we are two years after the election watching an afternoon press conference in which he defends his choice to support tax cut extensions.
So, he compromised on what he said to get elected. He’s certainly not alone in this; politicians seem to say many things during elections to garner enough support to get elected and then later compromise their original positions. However, he’s also risking compromising the support of his party base. House Speaker Pelosi seems uncommitted to date, but other Democrats have been speaking out in fierce opposition, even asserting that the President should not count on the Democratic vote to push through these Bush cuts.
For me, this isn’t about the actual act of extending the Bush tax cuts; my personal views on the government’s economic management is certainly a topic for another time. For me, Obama’s latest act highlights an important trend in politics. It highlights the disconnect between campaigning and governing. In January 2009, the country was abuzz with the possibility of ‘change,’ following a year-long message of the importance of bipartisanship. Obama had promised to abandon the traditional gridlock of partisan politics and move the country along by means of bipartisan compromise. For the first two years of his administration, this rhetoric seemed to be just that — empty words. Even being a wonderful orator could not mask the fact that many legislative measures were being passed with minimal (if any) Republican support. However, immediately following an election that was clearly an unfavorable referendum on his administration, he is willing to compromise. Is it too little too late? Is he choosing to compromise only now that the tables are turned? Does it even matter? Compromise is compromise…right?