With the Mid-Terms over and two years left in the presidency of Barrack Obama, could it finally be time to reveal the inner Progressive that his supporters have waited 6 long years to see? A recent article in “The Hill” proclaims, “Obama Veers Left after Red Wave” and points to the president’s call for Net Neutrality and his Climate Change agreement with China as prime examples of how “lefty” Obama has suddenly become.
I have been giving this some thought since election night when all the predictions were proven true and the Republicans were given the keys to government. What does this mean for Obama and the Democrats in congress and how will it play out to the liberal base? Keeping in mind that all of this stopped being about the people a long time ago and has become a game of perceptions and power, I think Obama is getting ready for a nice walk in the park. With no electoral restraints ahead of him and no further obligations to a party out of power; it is all about image and legacy and Obama, if nothing else, is all about Obama.
The next couple of things to watch for are Immigration and Keystone XL. On the immigration front, Obama’s hands are now free to sign Executive Orders to stop deportation of the “Dreamers” AND their families as he was about to do before certain “vulnerable” Democrats begged him to refrain in hopes of allowing them to be re-elected. If Obama wishes to reclaim good standing for himself and his party with the steadily growing voting block that is the Hispanic community, he needs to act sooner rather than later. Obviously if he can get a more encompassing bill through the lame-duck congress, he would look even better but don’t hold your breath.
Now the very hot-button issue of the Keystone XL Pipeline is going to be even more interesting to watch. Long thought by most Progressives to be a dead deal just lingering in a do nothing congress; there is new movement by the Democrats in the senate to bring this bill to the floor for a vote where all indications are that it would pass with enough Republican and Democratic votes to move it along to Obama’s desk. Why would the Democrats do such a thing and what will Obama do? Well the Democrats believe for some really bizarre reason that they owe it to LA senator, Mary Landrieu, to let her vote on this bill to help her in her run-off election to keep her senate seat because….well just because. As for what Obama will do; this is the big question. On one hand, he could simply sign the bill (screw the environment) and show the Republicans he is really anxious to cooperate with them. His other option is to veto the bill and let Landrieu get in her vote and wait for the Republicans to bring it back in 2015 and do it all over again. My fear (based on his existing track record – China agreement notwithstanding) is that he will opt for option one in hopes of setting the tone for cooperation (capitulation?) over the next two years.
Something else to watch will be the continuing disgrace that is Guantanamo Bay. There is a rumor going around that Obama will use an Executive Order (and his capacity as Commander in Chief) to finally shut the place down. The advantage to doing this now would be to save the Democrats in congress from having to defend the action and having to vote in the lame duck session to reestablish the facility. It would also force the Republicans in 2015 to actually pass a bill to establish a prison where we hold prisoners who are never formally accused of anything, tried by any judge, or released EVER. Of course there will be so many things that will come up over the next two years that will give Obama an opportunity to shape that legacy. Will he go out without a fight or will he be remembered as someone who left standing for a Progressive future?
As for the new Democratic minority in the senate; Harry Reid has already indicated that the Democrats will only put up passive resistance to anything the Republicans want to pass. I am assuming that will include the repeal of Obamacare. Not being a huge fan of this homage to for-profit healthcare, I nonetheless have mixed feelings about repealing something that at least tries to do something to allow the sick an opportunity to be cared for without having to become homeless in order to pay for treatment. The fact that there is no alternative being floated is my biggest concern. I just read this morning that Senator Elizabeth Warren has been elected to a minor role in the new “Leadership” of the Democratic Caucus. Apparently there is a role called “Liaison to the Liberals.” Who knew? The bigger question; “Will this be the thing that keeps her out of the presidential race?”
Chad (The Left) Shue