President Bush was both loved and loathed for his resoluteness of purpose. But his successor has taken that trait to an entirely new level, to the point that he’s become obstinate in the face of a clear reality.
President Obama, his lieutenants and media allies claim that prevailing public anger is rooted in frustration over a Washington that’s "getting nothing done." They are wrong. Most of the outrage is the result of a Washington that’s doing too much to push policies that have always failed.
Sure there are some areas in which the president has failed to act. Despite Candidate Obama’s promises, there has been little transparency, miniscule amounts of bi-partisanship and no net spending decreases.
But other than that, the Obama administration’s problems have nothing to do with inaction. Ever since a newly-inaugurated Obama tersely responded "I won" to Republican congressional leaders who challenged him over the contents of his first stimulus, he has been working feverishly to take the American economy away from its entrepreneurial roots and replace it with European-style socialism.
Liberal politicians and pundits are clinging to the idea that if only cap and trade became law, if only Congress passed more stimulus legislation, and if only the federal government took over the banking and health care industries, Democrats’ November election hopes would brighten with the public’s mood.
But there is no indication of that. Scott Brown won in Massachusetts in large part because he promised to be the decisive vote against socialized medicine and other wasteful spending.
Polls show that three quarters of independent voters have a favorable opinion of a cause-the Tea Party movement-that was founded on the pursuit of smaller government. Polls show most Americans want to start the health care debate over from square one and that only a third of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction.
Polls also show Americans disapprove of the job the president’s done on almost every issue he has undertaken. A new CNN poll showed only a third of voters think Congress members have earned right to win reelection and that just 44 percent thinks Obama deserves to be re-elected.
The Left blames public discontent on everything from alleged GOP obstructionism and supposed Tea Party racism to voter ignorance. Obama is even implementing a new communications strategy to better convey his message to a nation he clearly believes is just too dim to understand anything beyond infantile slogans like "change we can believe in."
But the only communications problem right now has to do with the Obama administration’s refusal to listen to an electorate that’s loudly rejecting its agenda. The Democrats deliberate deafness to voter voices could prove electorally fatal in November when those voices will speak too decisively to be ignored, as the left learned in Massachusetts.
Democrats think they have hit on a winning narrative by labeling congressional Republicans "the party of no." But the real problem for Democrats is that the American electorate has become "the nation of no." No more fake stimulus. No more socialized medicine. No more government takeovers of industries. No more tax increases based on dubious science. No more government bailouts of irresponsible companies.
Democrats simply do not understand why so many Americans are so angry. Or perhaps it’s that they do not care. All indications are that Democrats will push ahead with their agenda, passing more pork barrel spending and using reconciliation to ram through socialized medicine.
Obama’s budget continues the irresponsible spending that’s fueled the backlash. According to economist James Capretta, "From 1789 through 2008, the U.S. government borrowed $5.8 trillion. If the Obama budget were adopted in full, government borrowing would exceed $18 trillion by the end of the decade."
Some Democratic strategists are urging their candidates to double down on the Obama agenda. As one consultant told The Hill newspaper this week, "You can’t in the late winter start saying, ‘I’m not an Obama Democrat.’ There’s nowhere else to go."
In a recent meeting with Obama, Arkansas Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln implored the president to change his extreme agenda and find common ground with Republicans. Obama’s response was, essentially, "no." His goal, he suggested, is "to stir things up here."
Obama and congressional Democrats were swept into office on a wave of discontent over problems that occurred on the GOP’s watch. Voters were looking for something new, anything new. And Barack Obama gave them a politician who in almost every way was the opposite of George W. Bush. But Obama wrongly interpreted the 2008 elections as a mandate to enact a leftwing policy agenda.
Joe Biden said this week, "Washington right now is broken. We understand why they’re angry…We get it." He’s wrong on both counts.
Americans are angry because most of them have a loved one who’s unemployed or whose home is in foreclosure. And they’re angry because an out-of-touch government is obstinately pursuing an agenda that will only aggravate those conditions.
And in a sense, Biden is wrong that Washington is broken. Yes, the political party currently running Washington is broken. But the Democrats’ current crisis-the electoral losses, the plummeting poll numbers, the surprise retirements-is proof that our democracy is working just as our Founders intended.