The Democratic party and President Obama may be on the verge of losing the majority in the House of Representatives and Senate in elections next Tuesday, which would be a blow to the expectations generated by the first black politician in the White House, according to Howard Fineman in the article, “A ‘Pre-Mortem’ for the Democrats,” on September 19 published in Newsweek.
Obama, who took office with the aura of a great leader, capable of elevating politics as well as the American economy, has demonstrated little capacity for managing the difficult balances of a democracy, despite the substantial number of votes by which he was elected. Health care reform, according to the article, may be considered Obama’s greatest accomplishment 10 years from now, but at present it is an unpopular law that has taken a year of quarreling in being approved, is plagued by bureaucratic and fiscal risks and has diverted attention from the economic agony, which isn’t about to abate for the first world power.
Obama refused to accept that Republicans, despite being the minority, had many tools to employ in obstructing governmental action, especially the nomination of senior officials, which requires legislative approval. The absence of a complete governmental team or the delay in its appointment has caused Obama to lose valuable time in addressing the economic situation that has fundamentally affected the vast and substantial middle class. The relationship with Congress has been stormy, and he has made serious mistakes, like forcing Democratic legislators to approve a law on emissions, despite the evidence it would not receive Senate approval.
The article ends by pointing out that “Obama doesn’t really know Republicans, and he doesn’t seem to want to take their measure. (Nor has he seemed all that curious about what makes Democratic insiders tick.) It’s the task of the presidency to cajole people, including enemies, into doing what they don’t want to do if it is good for the country. Did Obama think he could eschew the rituals of politics — that all he had to do was invoke His Hopeness to bring people aboard? The president hasn’t invited the House minority leader over to talk, and Obama had his first private Oval Office chat with McConnell only last month. “Better late than never, but too late to do any good this cycle.”
The above quotation summarizes, with singular precision, the substance of the democratic exercise of power, which forces the leader, even though elected by a wide majority, to seek consensus with the opposition if he wants to succeed. Otherwise, he and his reforms will last only as long as emotion.