Civil discourse may be visualized as negotiating parties sitting as equals across the table discussing ways to resolve issues in order to arrive at a consensus favorable to both parties’ best interests. However, to launch such a constructive arrangement, both parties must (1) bargain in good faith and (2) own a similar vision for future results – seeking comparable goals, albeit diverse methods.
Barack Obama is now in campaign mode, temporarily not beset, it seems, by his race to the right when in the “governing” mode. His poll numbers reflect a bounce. But words alone cannot repair three years’ damage when he was eager to give away the store to win Republicans unyielding in their contempt for the man, labor, environment, equity, justice, and all issues sacred to progressives.
Obama’s blind-side is compromise. Although it’s a good thing in suitable circumstances, compromise is a curse when unilateral. It’s been one-sided from Day One, but the man doesn’t seem to detect their venom nor hear their vitriol.
Obama’s biggest mistake was casting pearls before swine. His pig enemies promised him failure and absolute obstruction, then honored those pledges with a sense of accomplishment. Undoubtedly, Republicans are willing to crash the nation for power. Mitch McConnell’s vow to destroy Obama, making him a one-term president, should have been the wake up call. Yet the man still flowered them with concessions – even before talks began. Who would do such a thing?
The classic comparison is Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938 – conceding Czechoslovakia for a few months of peace. Stepping off the plane, Chamberlain seemed ecstatic as he read Brits his fresh agreement signed by Adolf.
The Fuhrer, of course, was not bargaining in good faith. Mein Kampf and his speeches overloaded with imperial goals should have been clues. But somehow Chamberlain was deaf to it all – his vision blurred by his ambition to be a noble statesman and conciliatory negotiator. I believe Obama’s blind-side is similar.
When the goal is compromise (not the overall public good), style usurps the substance. Precisely, that is Obama’s albatross. Solid promises in 2008 turned into bargaining chips which were cast upon the swine. Labor, environment, economy, healthcare, and justice suffered. America went further down the path to the decline idiot Bush set in place. Obama was to be the vaccine to the virus Bush-Cheney infected us with. What utter disappointment. Is it incurable now?
The excuse may very well be Republican obstructionism. But weren’t Democrats granted huge majorities in both houses plus the White House? Assuming leadership does not entail conceding to losers for bipartisanship’s sake. Obama’s dawn was OUR day; it was our turn to make right the wrongs of the former. Unfortunately, our day turned to night as we saw ourselves thrown under the bus for the slimmest hope of a little Republican give-and-take. Obstinate they remained.
Only now, as we enter the next election cycle, do we hear words for the base – as if we didn’t exist for three years. The curse of compromise is a nation careening near the cliff.