Dear President Obama (2)

08Nov12

Dear President Obama,

Congratulations on your re-election! I was happy and relieved to see that the election went your way. I was pleasantly surprised by your margin in the Electoral College.

All-in-all, it appears to be a good day for liberals:

  • You were re-elected.
  • The Democratic majority in the Senate has been expanded.
  • Elizabeth Warren was elected.
  • Tammy Baldwin will become the country’s first openly gay senator.
  • Several of the leading Tea Party representatives and senators were defeated.
  • Tammy Duckworth beat Joe Walsh.
  • Same-sex marriage has been legalized in at least two (and probably three) more states (the first three to do so by popular vote).
  • Non-medicinal use of marijuana has been legalized (under state law) in two states.

So, now it’s time to get down to governing. The Senate should be more helpful, especially if Harry Reid takes up Jeff Merkley’s campaign to change the Senate rules and make it more democratic. Unfortunately, John Boehner will still have a majority in the House of Representatives, so you will still have to work with an oppositional House.

Not long before the election, a Republican friend of mine had a Facebook post that questioned your cooperative nature. I resisted the urge to point out (as I have mentioned to you before) that your two most controversial measures were rooted firmly in Republican ideas, specifically: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (roughly 1/3 tax cuts and 1/3 block grants to the states — both favorite Republican policies) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (based on a 1989 Heritage Foundation proposal, an idea first implemented at state level by Mitt Romney, and promoted at national level by Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole). This is a part of the reason that William Satelan has described you as a moderate Republican.

What does this mean in terms of governing? Well as I mentioned in my previous post addressed to you, you have a tendency to bring legislation to Congress with the compromise already worked in. When you are unwilling to move too much from your proposal, the Republicans claim that you are inflexible and trying to force your ideas on America.

So, I have a proposal: how about proposing some radical ideas. I’m sure that everyone in your administration could come up with at least one. Make your proposal as a draft, and invite party representatives (perhaps the leaders or their nominees) from both parties and both houses to work together to reach the compromise. (As my math teachers used to say, “Show your work.”) There might be times when you get more than you would have otherwise proposed. There might even be times when the Republican representatives contribute a good idea.

Whatever approach you take, thank you for a wonderful November 6, 2012, and good luck for the coming four years. The country needs you to have a great second term.

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