Nothing is the same this time around, other than the fact that Barack Obama once again got elected President. He isn’t the same as he was four years ago. The nation isn’t the same as it was four years ago. Even the Republicans aren’t the same as they were four years ago, and now they have lost the element of surprise that played such a large part in their ambush of a then first term President. I’m a long time hard core cynic of Republican politics, and I’ll admit that they caught me off guard at first also. I honestly didn’t expect Republicans to rival Stalinists of old in the lock step unbending public unity of their Party Line – full bore un-nuanced opposition to anything and everything that the newly elected President Obama proposed.
I can’t fully fault the President for failing to see it all coming. A lot had changed since the Republicans in Congress impeached the last Democratic President. Nine Eleven happened for one, and Democrats and Republicans frequently worked closely together in the months and years that followed to respond as one nation to an attack on American soil. Obama took office in the midst of another major crisis, a global economic melt down. The times again called for laying aside partisan differences wherever possible, so no doubt Obama didn’t anticipate Republicans holding a secret war council on the day of his first inauguration to plot defiance toward his every step. But now he’s seen it all, and so has the nation.
In January of 2009 we were, by and large, a frightened people. Most of us put our hope in a newly elected President, but fewer of us were firmly convinced that he had all the right answers. Obama was as yet untested and therefore he was also unproven, which left the Republicans room to sow their seeds of doubt. People, lots of people, were angry over what was happening to our economy, and anger breeds bitterness and the President is an obvious target when times are hard and stay hard.
Republicans milked that anger, and because President Obama made it his priority to fix our financial system rather than to demonize it, that gave the Right the opening they needed to demonize government instead. Hence the emergence of the “Tea Party” movement and the red electoral mid term tide that restored the House to Republicans in 2010. I don’t need to go into all those details because all of us were there, and that’s the point. We all saw that movie, we all were actors in it, America knows how it all played out and there is no need for any spoiler alerts. We even had another national election that rehashed everything that happened and Barack Obama won it, soundly.
America reelected the President and gave Democrats more seats in both he House and Senate. Despite what George W. Bush used to like to say, the voters are the real deciders in America and they decided – and did so without equivocating. Republicans may still hold a (smaller) majority of seats in the House of Representatives due to their gerrymandering after 2010, but Democrats got more votes. Voters don’t like to be ignored. They want our problems fixed and they chose a team to fix them, and this time they did so with their eyes wide open with none of the guess work that 2008 entailed.
We have fully experienced Republican imposed gridlock; it did not win rave reviews. If Republicans choose obstruction again they do so at their own deep peril. They don’t possess a winning hand, our economy is recovering. Mitt Romney tried to slip in under the recession wire and ride a rebounding economy to 8 years in the White House. He was confident promising voters 12 million new jobs because that is what experts agree can be expected naturally from a recovering U.S. economy. Americans wants to put the Great Recession behind us, and that means putting the politics of the Great Recession behind us also.
Public approval for the Tea Party has plummeted since 2010 and Sarah Palin is little more than a punch line for political jokes. America has little patience now for more of those extremist antics. Choose wisely G.O.P. The course they have been plotting is headed toward the Whigs.