Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Governing From The Center

I've noticed some things about presidents and the Americans they govern. Former President George W. Bush ran from the center, but governed from the right. For millions of Americans, it was too far to the right and cost the Republican Party the majority in both the House and the Senate.
Former President Bill Clinton began his first term governing from the left which led to the Republican Revolution as they took over Congress. Clinton then governed more from the center and was able to make more of a difference.
President Obama, who ran on the left, may be learning that he too needs to govern more from the center or his numbers will continue to drop as more and more Americans are turned off by an agenda they deem too liberal.
The United States is a center-right country. When you take the 330 million residents, what you get are 79 percent who do not consider themselves liberal. That is a telling number.
According to a June Gallup Poll, 40 percent of Americans interviewed describe their political views as conservative, 35 percent as moderate, and 21 percent as liberal. The numbers represent a slight increase for conservatism in the U.S. since 2008, returning it to a level last seen in 2004. The 21 percent calling themselves liberal is in line with findings throughout this decade, but is up from the 1990s.
Basically, that tells me the American people don't want a liberal agenda despite the fact we elected a liberal to the White House.
Now here's the question, will President Obama shift to the center in order to get things done, or will he continue to try and move the country left and run into a brick wall.
I been listening to pundits, from both the right and the left, predicting Obama's demise should health care reform fail. I don't believe that. Similar predictions were made about Clinton during his first term. He easily won re-election.
President Obama is, or should be learning that mainstream Americans, Democrat and Republican, are not liberal. Most Americans don't think like those in the liberal hotbeds of San Francisco, Seattle or Chicago. In other words, most Americans don't think government is the answer for everything. Far from it. Most are weary of big government and expensive government programs.
Obama must also realize that the quickest way to get your message lost is to burn yourself out. The president is on television more than Regis Philbin. After awhile, it all sounds the same. Overexposure is no way to get an agenda across. Bush learned that lesson in 2004 when his popularity vanished as a result of trying to get Social Security privatized.
Obama's popularity has plummeted in recent weeks as more and more Americans are coming out against a massive health care overhaul which would render us with few choices. Many are now paying attention to Cap and Trade and other issues which are rapidly losing ground.
As history has shown us, when a party gains too much power and gets out of line with the mainstream, like the GOP did in 2004 and 2005, it leads to a shift in the balance of power.
Democrats were feeling pretty good about their position in February. Now that they're home and hearing it loud and clear from their constituents (despite denial in some cases), they should realize they are in the fight for their political lives. What happened to the GOP in 2006 could sure happen to the Democrats in 2010.
Might happen anyhow. Most Americans would prefer to have both parties in power in some form or fashion.

Copyright 2009 by Christopher Blackburn

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