Lowell Feld has an amazing post up on Blue Virginia, where he offers heart felt advice to President Obama. Like a lot of us, Lowell is getting a disquieting feeling that the change we believed in is being replaced by the same old Washington dysfunctional politics we all worked so hard to replace.
Like Lowell, I think President Obama is one of the most talented leaders to come along in our generation. He could be a truly great leader because he has the personal charisma, elogquence and brilliance to move our country in a new direction, one that many of those who voted for him hunger for.
But there are two sides of him that are at war with one another. There is the visionary who sees where he wants to take us versus the gentle, cool, brainy technocrat who truly wants us to get there by building bipartisan consensus. Both sides are in a conflict because the reality is that Republicans do not want to build consensus. They sense that in order to regain power, they must make President Obama fail. But they are playing a dangerous zero sum game where we all go down with the president.
If the economy continues to tank, if we don't get health care reform, if we don't reverse climate change, if we don't build a fairer society where the middle class and working people can flourish, the nation and the world will be broken into so many pieces that even if the Republicans get back in power, they would be no more able to fix it than we are now. Indeed, with any further deterioration of our current economic, environmental, and security conditions, it will be beyond repair.
In a zero sum game, the winner takes all. But even a winner can't multiply anything by the number zero and that's all that will be left. It will be a phyrric victory at best.
For those reasons, I hope somebody who has an ear to this administration reads Lowell's incredible article and can get through to Obama that he must abandon his cool, detatched stance and show Americans that he cares passionately about fighting for his signature policies. For now, he needs to abandon the quest for bipartisan compromise because it takes two sides to build a consensus and only one has been trying. That quickly devolves into unilateral disarmanent, never a good plan for implementing policy.
Here's some additional advice to Obama, along the same lines as Lowell's counsel.
First, do the things that were promised. Reverse the economy, build the middle class back up, bring prosperity and peace back to our land. Fix the failed health care system so that every American has access to decent health care. Do what you promised even if the Democrats have to go it alone to get it done. When you succeed, the Republicans will compromise. Because it will be far harder for them to argue with success than with timidity.