Like many, during Elections of ’08, I was enamoured and spell-bound by the inclusive message from Obama and found the McCain-Palin ticket an unappetizing & cruel joke on the public. A heady coalition of independents, never-voted-before, ideologically liberals and anti-war rightists voted Obama in, based on the rhetoric of “Hope” and “Change”. However, Obama is slowly, but surely, losing the People’s Mandate given to him that magical November night.
– Could not hold its super-majority in both houses together. Too many factions within the Democrats (Left / Liberals / Blue Dogs / Progressives/ Unions). Ultimately did not know what to do with their hold over the House & Senate – ended up destroying their own mandates
– Obama, Pelosi & Reid living in their own ivory towers. The aversion to get their hands dirty and drafting their own laws – relying on Congressmen to write the law and push for it.
– Feeding the pork / Stuffing the sausage – the earmarks haven’t stopped. All the new laws and the stimulus package has been stuffed with gravy – more snouts in the trough
– Oscillating between trying to be bipartisan and being populist
– Communication – or the lack of: The ‘great communicator’ was not able to deliver his message and his accomplishments to the people. The Tea Party stole the message and his thunder…
A Sense of Déjà vu
I am reminded of another occassion – where after much struggle, a political party swept into power, but slowly squandered the People’s Mandate. I have been virulently anti-Congress –due to the shameless sycophancy to the Gandhi family, blatant communalism & appeasement (while still calling themselves ‘secular’), destroying the federal nature of the nation and basically sucking the country dry. I have been a BJP supporter since the early ‘90s, and was very happy when they took over power in 1999. However, they got blinded by their success and lost their way:
– Factionism at the second rung leadership. Arm-chair leaders on the ascendency over on-the-ground vote-getters (some of whom were expelled from the party). TV studios were given precedence over the constituencies.
– Tempering down their key messages / mandates – on Mandir, Civil Code and Article 360
– The grainy shot of Bangaru Laxman grasping wads of notes is still burned in my brain
– Witch-hunting of Tehelka
– “The Party of Difference” was nothing but more of the same
– The two low points for BJP in my view were – Jaswant Singh molly-coddling terrorists in Kandahar & Advani eulogizing Jinnah in Lhore
The pioneers of coalition politics got too ambitious and ran for the next election (2004) on their own steam – and summarily lost.
Can he hear the voices?
On the second anniversary of his inauguration, can Obama change course to save his presidency and the chance of a second one? Can he learn from his mistakes (and the ones made by BJP):
– Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: It’s the Economy, Stupid! Huge stimuli, QEII and Bush tax cuts* will not raise employment in the short term. Obama needs to create jobs in the next 2 years.
– Consolidate his coalition of supporters. Align his party members better by knitting them together against the common enemy. Play to ‘his’ gallaries.
– Communicate his message better. Sell Democrats better to the people. Concentrate on reality, not spin-doctors.
– Pick the battles to fight. Be the ‘Party of No’ to the Republican agenda.
– Focus on meeting the People’s Mandate. “The Professor” can win elections. “The Leader” has to govern & produce results.
Back to the drawing board © Photo (NYT / AP)
Obama must believe in his own words: “In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.” http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/inaugural-address/
Will he deliver on the People’s Mandate? Will he earn the greatness?
* The trickle-down-effect doesn’t convince me. Ironically, Nehru and Mahalanobis used the trickle-down-theory to justify their socialist plans. JK Galbraith’s response was: ‘If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.’