It is understandable if one still remembers the good old days of Obama’s Presidency. The hope and change the country felt after 2008 and 2009 electrified even those who had voted for the other guy (I did). But over 5 years since that day and over a year since the President was reelected that hope and change is gone; replaced by a despair and worry over Obamacare, Iran, a stagnant economy and a bevy of other issues.
Obama’s fall is even more staggering when you consider how he came to the White House. A freshman Senator from Illinois, the then-Senator made a surprise run to win the Iowa Caucuses and proceeded to run a brilliantly executed 2008 Presidential primary strategy, besting the Clinton titan of Democratic politics. Buoyed by anti-GOP feelings among the public Obama cruised to the Presidency.
Of course not everything was rosy during his first term. Far from it. Obama and his Democratic allies passed financial reform, Obamacare and tried to pass Cap and Trade all which soured the public on his leadership. In 2010 voters delivered his party a sharp rebuke even while rebuking some of the right wing’s Tea Party policies and candidates.
Since 2010 it is safe to say the President has never again been on cloud nine like when he was first inaugurated. In 2011 he averted a debt default with the sequester (now wildly unpopular) and won reelection in 2012 largely bereft of new ideas but rather arguing “the other guy is worse). Liberals said the same of Bush’s 2004 strategy and look where he ended up.
Entering 2013 the President had approval ratings hovering around 53% and more importantly the public trusted him on a majority of issues. However, his approval started a steady decline with a number of scandals confronting his Presidency. Starting with the government shutdown and Obamacare since October the President has been in free-fall. Not only does a solid majority of the public disapprove of his job performance, on almost all issues, but trust in his leadership is well below 50%. Obama’s meager attempts to point out the Healthcare reform’s successes seem not to be working.
Obama’s tenure is a case in point about how policy debates only have so much reach. After 2010 Republicans believed Obamacare brought on their victories but in truth it was a perfect storm of an overstretched Democratic Party Congressionally, a weak economy and a bevy of large and complicated laws being passed that galvanized the GOP base. In 2012 when Republicans thought the same storm would reappear it did not.
But now that the actual effects of Obamcare are/have been felt and the debate has moved beyond policy the President’s numbers have tanked. Worse for his party is that their narrow majority in the Senate appears in danger. Obama would not do well with a fully controlled GOP congress facing him in his last two years in office.
Beyond all the reasons listed above and mentioned in numerous other articles the President’s fall can also be blamed on the public’s unrealistic expectations from him. If you thought he was a moderate and supported him as such in 2008 and 2012 you saw what you wanted to see. You did not see the obvious signs he was a big government liberal who believes in wealth redistribution, To Big to Fail, Affirmative Action, etc. If you were an Independent or first time voter who thought he could bring change, well at least you can comfort yourself saying he did. Just not the good kind of change we usually think of as positive.
Ideas that Obama’s election and reelection would improve race relations were indeed shortsighted. This President and his party have argued almost all opposition to his policies from the right are racist, that Voter ID laws are meant to re-segregate black people and as Joe Biden said on the campaign trail in 2012 in VA, “They (the GOP) want to put you all back in chains.” Moreover, the number of DOJ lawsuits against states for redistricting and education policy have only further divided racial tensions.
On social issues despite movement towards a supportive position on gay marriage the White House has fostered divisions on abortion. Obamacare forces private institutions to pay for contraception for their employees (being challenged in SCOTUS). A number of GOP state legislatures since 2010 have passed laws limiting abortion or mandating new requirements for it to be performed. In response the President and his party came up with the 2012 campaign theme of “The war on women.” It also appears to have somewhat impacted the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race. The number of other issues this President has divided America on are legion. Energy, transportation and defense are but a few more.
Sadly, I believe Obama’s Presidency was lost a long time ago. It started with the Stimulus and culminated in the passage of Obamacare. He never was a moderate, he never wanted to work with the other side and he never cared about the Americans who did not support him. He was a President of a majority of voters and not the nation as he claims. Remember his statement on rural voters “Clinging to their guns and religion?” Obama’s tenure should be a lesson for future Presidents because you can be sure they will get grief for having to pick up the pieces of his presidency.