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No More Compromise

Most sensible people around the world were relieved when Barack Obama managed to narrowly win the US presidency last year. That was not necessarily because they thought he was the best person possible for the job, but more that he was a hundred times better than the alternative.

His first term as president shouldn’t be dismissed as a total failure although he certainly didn’t live up to the hopes of many more progressive people. I guess the big problem was that his emphasis at the time was cooperation and compromise in the hope of forging some sort of working relationship with the Republicans.

But you can’t create any sort of meaningful link with nutters whose primary purpose is your destruction whatever the consequences.

Not all Republicans are nutters of course, but a large proportion of them are, and at this stage of its evolution the party does seem to be under the control of some of its nuttiest members, especially fundamentalist Christians and ultra-conservatives.

The Republicans still control the House so Obama has major limits on what he can do and that has been a problem all along which has lead to the attempts at reconciliation. But those attempts have been ultimately harmful, I think, and it is now time for Obama to do what he has probably wanted to do all along: enact what in the American context could be called a liberal agenda (although in most other contexts it might be seen as fairly centrist).

Obama’s latest speech was full of signs that he intends to try to do what he originally promised: make some real changes. Of course all of this needs to been in perspective, by real change I mean doing the things that any reasonable society would make without any real thought.

Here are some of the changes I’m talking about: allowing government to participate in society in a positive way, avoiding war except as a truly last resort, trying to do something about the out of control gun culture in the US, giving gays the same rights as everyone else, and doing something about global environmental issues such as climate change.

All of those are reasonable and necessary yet his opposition opposes them for no real reason other than bigotry, ignorance, and superstition. How could anyone cooperate with a group so out of touch with what is really required in the 21st century?

Many might say that the Republicans control the House because they enjoy a lot of support, and remember that Obama did not win the presidential election by a big margin. Clearly those attributes I mentioned above (bigotry, ignorance, and superstition) are common in some parts of the US so it’s natural that leaders exhibiting those traits would be popular. But the tide is slowly turning and Obama gets more support from sections of the population which are growing so hopefully a more liberal agenda will continue to be supported in the future.

Whether the Democrats can win the House at the next election in just under 2 years time I don’t know but it would be great if it happened. Then Obama would have no excuse for not making some really positive changes.

But even if he is blocked by his opponents he must at least try to move ahead. The time for compromise is past. You don’t compromise with idiots or you’ll begin to look like one yourself!

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