The greatest crisis facing America is not the state of the economy, or the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the threat posed by al-Qaeda. These are all critically important, and we prolong them at our peril. But none of them is the one existential crisis that threatens to undo everything our country has achieved.
Many people are disappointed in Barack Obama for not standing up to his opponents. The previous administration had spent eight years ignoring the will and desires of half the population, and now it was time to turn the tables and give the other half a taste of their own medicine. If only Obama had turned the thumbscrews a little tighter on a few recalcitrant moderates, he could have gotten any legislation he wanted through Congress, the opposition be damned. Obama was not liberal enough / strong enough / smart enough to do the right thing.
In fact, Obama has been doing exactly the right thing. He knows that what most threatens us now is not economics, war, or terrorism. Obama has seen the enemy, and it is us.
What would Obama gain by forcing his policies through Congress without regard for the opposition? He’d gain four, or if he’s very lucky eight, years of those policies. Then out he’d go, supplanted by a wave of anti-incumbent anger, and the cycle would start all over again, with even worse divisiveness and partisanship, and with his successor forcing his policies through Congress and undoing everything Obama had accomplished.
What makes our country strong is in our very name. We are the United States of America. As Abraham Lincoln reminded us in 1858, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Now, 150 years later, we’re in danger of proving Lincoln right.
Someone has to be the first to reach across the aisle not because he has to, but because he wants to. Someone has to be the first to break the cycle of anger, hostility, and segregation which is weakening the very bedrock of our nation.
Barack Obama’s election in 2008 was revolutionary. His reelection in 2012 will be revolutionary as well, because he will be reelected not for what he accomplished despite the opposition, but rather what he accomplished with them.
I am proud to have supported Barack Obama in 2008, and I am proud to continue supporting him now. Barack Obama is still my president, because no matter what kind of American you are, he’s your president too.
[Simulblogged on The Daily Kos.]