Reposted from Facebook
A response to the 2014 State of the Union – January 29, 2014
I’m going to get political here, so for those who don’t like to see politics on their Facebook pages, I recommend stopping now.
The Republican responses to this year’s State of the Union can be essentially summed up as: “The President is out of touch with America and the slow recovery is all his fault.” In addition, they made sure to say that his policy proposals are all wrong and that he’s a big doody-head. Here’s the thing. The last 5 years have been among the most obstructionst in Congressional history. A solid majority of the President’s most sweeping policy proposals (especially in the last year) have been blocked by Congress. Rarely are they even allowed to vote on a bill, much less pass it. Poll after poll indicates that where the President stands on most of the hot-button issues (climate change, gun control, even most aspects of the health care bill), so do solid-to-overwhelming majorities of the American electorate.
So, basically, the President has been able to accomplish little substantive change (that was mandated by the electorate), and the slow recovery is all his fault (according to Republicans), yet the lack of change is primarily due to Republican gridlock, which they freely admit they are going for.
Soooo… Let’s take a look at just who prevented the change from happening. Ah, yes… Those guys and gals who are mad that the President hasn’t made the economic recovery faster. Naturally, they would (and have) argued that the President’s proposals won’t make things better, so that’s why they obstruct. Okay, so what’s their counter-proposal? Um… Some muttering about the free market? The sound of crickets? Yeah, pretty much. It took 3 different Republican members of Congress saying pretty much the same thing to rebut the State of the Union address. Representative Rodgers, and Senators Lee and Paul are all saying that the President is wrong about everything, the slow recovery is his fault, and that they have and will do everything they can to prevent his policies from becoming law. So, if the slow recovery was President Obama’s fault, and he was blocked from enacting what he (and most Americans) wanted, then the fault lies at least partially in the hands of the obstructionists. It doesn’t take much effort to see where Republican logic falters.
Most of the Republican counterproposals don’t exist. And those that do tend to run along the outdated and counterintuitive lines of, “everything bad is the government’s fault, so we propose to tie up the government in a morass of gridlock.” Except they are part of the government, and they were elected to use the tool of government keep the country running, no matter what Mr. Paul’s libertarian ideology tells him. Much of the fault of the Great Recession stems from government inaction and lack of monitoring of the banking systems. Yet the Republican answer is more of what caused the economic swamp that we’re still pulling ourselves out of. Any attempts to thwart that answer are met with silly rhetoric, historical revisionism, and stubborn devotion to an anti-government ideology.
The President has spent 5 years attempting to work with the Republican party and the overall legislature. In that time he has been constantly rebuffed and his efforts to govern have been blocked. “Working with” the modern Republican party, especially the tea party wing, means to do exactly what they want, with no compromise. Many of them have essentially articulated it like that. And then, when the President understandably balks at that tone, he is accused of not working with Congress. He is called divisive.
Last night’s State of the Union speech emphasized more incremental changes compared with the President’s previous addresses, but in a tone that indicated the President is sick and tired of Republican obstruction. I like his attitude. Of course, the reaction will simply be more obstruction. The tea party wing in particular has shown little to no interest in compromise or even actual governance. This has increasingly dragged the already right-leaning House into extremism.
The 2014 elections may go poorly for the Democrats. However, Republican voters may also be growing tired of the noise and inaction from the more extreme members of their party. Even if the Democrats don’t gain seats, the more extreme elements of the Republicans could find themselves back on the outside, where they are clearly more comfortable. In any event, for any real change to occur and real work to get done, more obstruction is clearly not the answer. The three responses to the President’s address indicates the culture of Washington remains unchanged. This is not the best start to the year.