Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Time for Bi-Partisanship is Over

Like virtually every President in recent memory, President Barack Obama came to Washington with one of his stated goals being to emphasize bi-partisanship. In more colloquial terms, President Obama seemed to be a lover, not a fighter. But the time to fight, every President learns, is now. Except that some Presidents learn this lesson too late to be an effective President.

Everytime President Obama has talked about bi-partisanship, the Republican leadership has kicked him in the teeth. They have no interest in bi-partisanship. They want the stimulus package to fail. They want health care reform to come to naught. They are desperately looking for campaign issues for 2010 and 2012. They are interested in returning to power only for power's sake, not for the sake of the country.

It's time President Obama jettisons "bi-partisanship" and goes about the business of governing. He may need the votes of two or three Republican Senators to get health care reform passed, but that is not bi-partisanship. It is simply cobbling together a viable majority to get critical legislation passed. If the cost of getting health care reform legislation passed is watering down the proposal to get 70%, then do it.

Democrats never seem to get the message. There is no purity in politics. When Hubert Humphrey was not pure enough for many Democrats, we got Richard Nixon as President. When Jimmy Carter wasn't great enough, we got Ronald Reagan, then George W. Bush. It's time for progressives to lead the way, picking up support where possible; sacrificing perfection where necessary.

Lyndon Johnson understood the need to get important legislation passed. When he proposed his War on Poverty, a Commission studied the issue and suggested that it would take about $30 billion dollars to do it right. All President Johnson could get out of Congress was $5 billion. While this was a prescription for failure, he took what he could get, and we are better off for it. The "War" was lost in the first days, but we did get Head Start out of the ashes. What a wonderful gift to the country. We may not have gotten all of the community organizing we needed to make the War successful, but we got some very treasured programs and principles that have proved successful and long-lasting.

It's time for President Obama to "break some eggs." He needs to get significant health care reform passed this year. It doesn't have to be perfect; it just has to be real reform. Mr. President: Your Presidency and the country hang in the balance. The time to act is now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oink Oink