A Lost Generation? November 4, 2010Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
Tags: John Judis, Mitch McConnell, President Obama
What this election suggests to me is that the United States may have finally lost its ability to adapt politically to the systemic crises that it has periodically faced. America emerged from the Civil War, the depression of the 1890s, World War I, and the Great Depression and World War II stronger than ever—with a more buoyant economy and greater international standing. A large part of the reason was the political system’s ability to provide the leadership the country needed. But what this election suggests to me is that this may no longer be the case.
[…] The Republicans may not have a mandate to repeal health care, but they do have one to cut spending. Many voters have concluded that Obama’s stimulus program actually contributed to the rise in unemployment and that cutting public spending will speed a recovery. It’s complete nonsense, as the experience of the United States in 1937 or of Japan in the 1990s demonstrated, but it will guide Republican thinking in Congress, and prevent Obama and the Democrats from passing a new stimulus program. Republicans will accede to tax cuts, especially if they are skewed toward the wealthy, but tax cuts can be saved rather than spent. They won’t halt the slowdown. Which leads me to expect that the slowdown will continue—with disastrous results for the country.
And that is not the whole of it. As Judis points out, new industries, the only exit strategy from economic stagnation, will require government seed money that the Republicans will block. Legislation to mitigate global warming will not pass. Budget deficits will skyrocket because tax cuts will be the only legislation that will get through Congress.
The most telling story was the contrast between Obama’s speech yesterday and the remarks of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell today.
While a contrite Obama extended a cooperative hand to the GOP, and suggested a willingness to compromise on everything from tax cuts to energy policy to health care, McConnell simply asserted that the aim of the GOP over the next two years is to make Obama a one-term President. From Steve Benen:
At President Obama’s press conference yesterday, he used the word “compromise” three times. The phrase “common ground” came up an additional three times. The president referenced working “together” 11 times. When ABC’s Jake Tapper, in the context of the debate over tax policy, asked, “So you’re willing to negotiate?” the president replied, “Absolutely.”
All of this sounded quite reasonable. But what I can only hope is that Obama and his team realize that Republican leaders have plans for the next Congress, and “reasonable” isn’t on the menu.
There’s been some talk lately about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) conceding that the “single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Let’s not forget, though, he keeps saying it.
The only objective the GOP has is political, to regain the White House in 2012. They have no plans to help anyone but their financial supporters.
The U.S. is a very large and dynamic country with tremendous wealth and human resources. But no amount of wealth or resources will be sufficient if we ignore reality. Politics in a democracy is not a game of winners and losers but a mechanism for developing strategies to confront problems. A country that ignores facts, ignores history, and fails to grasp the scope and nature of its challenges will never meet them; decline is inevitable.
For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com