About eight years ago, when President Obama came into office with majorities in the House and Senate, I wrote of my hope the Democrats would learn to govern and not attempt to rule through partisan domination. History showed my concern was legitimate, and my hope went unrealized. For the next two years, they chose to dominate the debates and force their political agenda on the minority. We saw in the next three elections, they lost seats in the House and Senate and finally lost the White House because of their intransient approach to social engineering and commitment to party politics.
The Republican party, for their part became equally immobile, tone deaf, and in several conflicts, extreme as they fought for the positions they favored. In the course of these struggles the average American suffered. The wealthiest grew richer, the poorest – poorer, and the middle class grew more concerned as they watched the professional politicians put political advantage before the needs of the country.
Thanks to the advent of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest we have entered into the age of personal attacks and condemnation through vilification. We see the shaping of opinion not through informed choice, but through clever meme creation, where one side latches on to one fraction of a fact and portrays it far out of proportion, just as an artist does in a caricature.
Today we will swear in a new President. The Republican’s will have majorities in both the houses and what will our path be? The biggest difference between now and 2009 is the new President is not really a professional party partisan, and is both deeply despised by the partisan left and disliked by the partisan right. It will be interesting to see how well he adapts to a role that is both symbolic as the leader to the party, and real as the leader of the nation. Will he choose to lead as he has led his companies, or will he be able to overcome the partisan politics and build relationships with those he must to fulfill his promises to the American middle class?
Will he be able to cut federal spending, limit federal overreach, build a stronger economy, and restore the faith of the people in the idea that government is here to help foster a safe and secure country for its citizens? Or will he continue the course we’ve set ourselves on through personal attacks, confrontation and mean spirited debate we’ve seen as the hallmarks of the recent campaign?
The next year will build the foundation for his term and while I hope it is a solid one, my instinct tells me we will see more conflict than change.