“There are no red states, no blue states. We are the United States!” And the crowd roared to these words from then state senator Barack Obama.
It was that very same “post partisan” hope that caused millions of Americans to vote for Barack Obama for the U.S. Senate, and then eventually for President. Why? Because we all want our politicians to do what is right for us and our country (sometimes these conflict, in which case most of us would choose ‘right for our country’). We don’t want them to do what’s best for their party or their personal political or financial interest.
So how is he doing? Let’s start on Day 1 of his administration and the selection of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff. Rahm Emanuel. Perhaps the most mean-spirited, partisan operative in the Democrat party. He then proceeds to select his cabinet which in the end consists of 20 democrats and 1 independent (Defense Secretary Robert Gates).
Is this “post-partisan”? Why weren’t all the independents who voted for this man screaming at the top of their lungs?
Next there was the stimulus. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid hold closed door, democrat only planning sessions to forge the bill. Republicans said they wanted in, but the doors remained locked. And what did our post-partisan President do? Nothing. Crickets. Silence.
Next was health care reform, or health insurance reform, or whatever euphemism the White House eventually settled upon. Locked doors again. Faked efforts to get their input. Partisanship from Republicans appeared here too, but this was a President who said he would transcend partisanship.
That last sentence requires more exploration. Many reading this column would say “how can the President bring bipartisanship when the other party is being so partisan?” A fair question but one for which there is certainly an answer. We all know bipartisanship is hard. We all know it is achieved all too rarely. We know that both parties are to blame and have been for many years.
But knowing how hard bipartisanship is, Obama the candidate promised it to us. Almost guaranteed it. This was perhaps the most important “change” we had been told to expect if we voted for this man. And his performance in this area? Miserable. Never in my lifetime (other than perhaps the 1.5 years of the Clinton impeachment) have we seen such bitter, self-interested, damaging partisanship. The President has not brought us together, he has split us apart almost like never before. He pits rich vs. poor, unions versus management, main street against wall street, college professors against police officers, patients against insurance companies, and democrats against republicans.
The only change here is for the worse. Yes there are many to blame for the polarization, but the bottom line is Barack Obama is our President. And not only is he responsible for leading his people, he made a promise that he has completely failed to keep.