What if Obama loses?

What happens if President Obama loses the election?   The Washington Monthly has a good special issue making the case that it could be worse than you would think.

Mitt Romney, the most probable Republican nominee, is, like Barack Obama, a defender of the status quo rather than a radical of the right.  But a Republican victory would mean not only Romney, Newt Gingrich or a dark horse Republican as President, but a new Republican majority in Congress.

Experience teaches that Republicans will use their majority more effectively than the Democrats do.  The Republican leadership will never tolerate the abuses of the filibuster and cloture that the Democrats have, and will be much less likely to either desire nor need compromise.

According to the Washington Monthly’s team of writers, we can say goodbye to the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law before they are even implemented.  We can forget about any meaningful action on global climate change, and a more brass-knuckle approach to foreign policy.  As a friend of mine summed up, the objective is to make United States like Rick Perry’s Texas writ large.

Click on the following links to read the series.

This Time It’s Different

What If Obama Loses?: imagining the consequences of a GOP victory

Campaign Promises: what they say is how they’ll govern

The Tea Party: picking the candidates and writing the agenda

Congress: the good news is … no more gridlock

The Courts: the conservative takeover will be complete

Foreign Affairs: the “more enemies, fewer friends” doctrine

The Environment: the end of the EPA as we know it

Financial Regulation: back to the good ol’ days of 2008

Obamacare: it’s toast

I agree a Republican victory is likely to take the country from bad to worse, but I see little to hope from a continued Democratic incumbency.  The Republicans would move the country in the direction it already is going, but at a faster and more reckless pace.

With a supposedly liberal Democrat in the White House and Democrats in control of the Senate, the United States is drifting toward war with Iran.  The United States is waging war in more countries than it was under President George W. Bush.  President Obama has claimed even more un-Constitutional powers than his predecessor did.

The two most significant reform laws enacted during his administration, the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, are complicated, hard to understand, hard to implement, easy to sabotage and require great integrity and capability in the way they are administered if they are to work.  The authors of these laws consciously rejected simpler and stronger measure, such as a public option on health insurance, or a limitation on the size and activities of banks with insured deposits.  Maybe the ACA and Dodd-Frank will help; the odds are against it.

There is little point in enacting new legislation if existing laws and regulations are not enforced.  President Obama has been actively hostile to prosecuting financial fraud; he evidently thinks that a threat to Wall Street is a threat to America’s financial stability.  I don’t mean to say that every single thing he has done has been wrong.  Some of his policies, such as repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or his modest public works program, are good; others might turn out to be good; others arguably are less bad than the Republican alternative would be.  But the case for re-electing President Obama is not hope for something better, but fear of something worse.

I’m discouraged about American politics in the short run because the leaders of both of the two main political parties are committed to propping up Wall Street, engaging in endless wars and ignoring the Constitution.

I’m reminded of the advice Saul Alinsky gave to young radicals after the 1968 Democratic convention, which affirmed Lyndon Johnson’s war policy was affirmed while Chicago police beat up demonstrators outside.

Do one of three things.  One, go and find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves.  Two, go psycho and start bombing—but this will only swing people to the right.  Three, learn a lesson.  Go home, organize, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegates.

via Slog.

Now in fact Democratic liberals and progressives did just that.  In 1972, they nominated George McGovern.  But after McGovern’s landslide defeat, they lost their nerve.  Unlike the Republican conservatives after Barry Goldwater’s defeat in 1964, they started backing away from their principles and apologizing for them.

Occupy Wall Street is the only movement that speaks to the millions of Americans who are ignored by the Democratic and Republican parties.  But as yet, Occupy is merely a protest movement.  It is not a political movement.  Maybe in time the Occupy movement or some other populist movement will capture one of the two political parties or start a third party that is big enough to be influential.  This is something for decades—not for November 2012.

I’ve been wrong many times about American politics, and I hope I’m wrong now.  I’d be pleased to find somebody who could show me that I’m wrong, but so far I haven’t.

Click on Saul Alinsky: who is he and why does Newt Gingrich keep mentioning him? for more about Saul Alinksy by Richard Adams in The Guardian in England.

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One Response to “What if Obama loses?”

  1. Anne Tanner Says:

    I think in the long run the president’s assumption of extended power in the Prolonged Detention act and the announcement that he can decide by himself what Americans are terrorists may be the most significant action of his first term. And yes, the only reason to re-elect is fear that the other party would be much worse. A few years ago I would have relied on the Supreme Court, but that has gone by the board now, too. Sad times.


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