It’s week one for President Obama and he faces an overwhelming to do list; a tangled rats nest of diplomatic, economic and environmental issues – all of which are deemed an absolute priority. However, our President has made one thing very clear. In order to succeed at untangling any of this mess, our country must unify, shake off bad partisan habits, and move forward as one nation. But after all the anger across party lines over this past year – heck, over this past decade – is national bipartisanship actually possible?
During President Obama’s historical inaugural speech, he turned to the nation and announced:
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
Bipartisanship was clearly his priority the night before his inauguration as Obama attended a number of dinners, one honoring John McCain, where he aimed to demonstrate his intentions to unify this country.
And while President Obama’s stimulus plan only needs the majority number of votes to pass, he hopes for more. Obama is aiming for at least 80 votes to demonstrate to the nation that our government acts with one voice working together to solve our economic issues.
Before and since Obama was sworn in as our new leader, he has prioritized efforts to reach across party lines. There are an endless number of examples and Jonathan Martin at Politico lists many of them here. However, many are still skeptical whether these bipartisan efforts will actually work – and for various reasons.
Jake Tapper, an ABC White House correspondent, pointed out examples where Obama critiqued McCain during the election year – and at the time, he was clearly not in a bipartisan frame of mind. Will conservative citizens forget his criticisms and allow this water to pass under the bridge?
And that stimulus plan? Well, even if it is likely to pass, folks on both sides of the fence think such an idealistic goal of 80 votes is unlikely. Jay Newton Small from Time Magazine explains that Obama will either have to reach much further over to the Republican camp, which would disappoint supporters – or push the plan ahead going against his bipartisanship ideologies. Newton-Small writes:
“Obama may quickly find himself forced to choose between betraying his party and betraying his principles.”
Ed Kilgore wrote about Obama’s bipartisanship goals at the Huffington Post – and he too recognizes those that are skeptical his efforts will work. He writes:
“Call it ‘bipartisanship,’ ‘nonpartisanship,’ or ‘post-partisanship,’ this strain of Obama’s thinking is impossible to ignore, and has pleased and inspired some listeners while annoying and alarming others.”
Kilgore explains further about the possibility of Obama’s bipartisan intentions:
“Among self-conscious progressives and conservatives alike, there’s a prevailing belief that Obama’s ‘bipartisan’ talk is largely a tactical device without real meaning — and a lingering fear that he might really mean it. “
So, critics seem to think Obama’s bipartisan efforts are not genuine but some underhanded method to get what he wants? Or worse still, if he does mean it and politicians drop their baggage at the door, where does that leave both parties? Will they have to (gasp) compromise and listen? Have open discussion and actually tolerate differing opinions? That’s just not how Washington works. Right?
FireDogLake.com goes so far as to say that Obama cares more about bipartisanship than a stable economy. RealClearPolitics.com explains that bipartisanship is not such a great idea after all because it requires both sides to work together – and if one side has got it all wrong, the entire effort will be diminished.
And let’s not forget Rush Limbaugh. Like him or not, he has a huge conservative audience that hangs on to his every word. What are his thoughts on Obama’s bipartisanship efforts? Well, go see for yourself. But he certainly doesn’t think conservatives should “drink the Kool-aid”.
So what do everyday people think? Well, I was discouraged looking back at the comments of the Politico article I mentioned above. But not everyone considers Obama’s efforts impossible. Corina Fiore from Down to Earth Mama explained to me:
“Obama’s bipartisanship agenda is possible. As a nation, we know that with hard work, determination, intelligence and common purpose, anything is possible… This task, though, is difficult with so many egos and so many different ideals to consider.”
And then another blogger, Wendy Piersell from Totally Her, relayed to me that:
“I hope/think the Obama administration will change the dynamic between parties forever. But politics will always be partisan.”
I agree with both. Opposing parties and differing opinions are important for this country to check and balance itself. Our country is defined by its diverse perspectives – we don’t all agree and it’s our right that we don’t have to. That being said, President Obama simply wants to keep the door open. No idea or suggestion aimed at fixing our nation’s problems should be ignored based on party affiliation. Let’s keep an open mind and sit down to fix this together. We may all not get exactly what we want but, if our country is better off for the compromises we’ve made in 5 years, it will all be worth it.
And bipartisan efforts should extend even as far as Type A Mom. Please make sure to jump over, welcome and read future articles by our new Conservative Mom Editor, Krista Herling! Welcome Krista!
Cross posted at Type A Moms.