Before Obama (B.O.), I was an ordinary liberal fighting for the interests of workers against conservatives, who were fighting for the interests of business. Although the conflict started as a battle between Americans with different political points of view, it sank into a no-holds-barred zero-sum war between Democrats and Republicans. President Obama is changing the nature of the political conflict by replacing fighting with negotiation. I applaud arrival of the After Obama (A.O.) era.
What is a liberal as opposed to a conservative? Some say conservatives favor small government and liberals favor big government. This is wrong. Conservatives usually claim this because they want to reduce government programs favored by liberals. However, there are plenty of programs - related to commerce and defense, especially - conservatives want to keep and even expand. The issue is not the size of government, but what government should do.
Conservatives are traditionalists, who like things as they are because they are famous, rich or executives in big corporations. Why change things when they are going so well? Naturally, conservatives try their best to help business and CEOs, whom they call "job creators." Liberals think that conditions could be improved, because they are minorities, poor people and ordinary workers. They don't have it so good. So naturally they try their best to help ordinary Americans get jobs.
In the Before Obama (B.O.) Era, long before Obama was inaugurated, the Republican Party did not consist of only conservatives; there were some moderates, even a few liberals. Similarly, the Democratic Party did not consist of only liberals; there were some moderates, even a few conservatives. There was plenty of conflict, lots of partisanship, a great deal of criticism. But there were also tough debates that often led to results that both sides accepted without rancor. There were plenty of liberal-conservative friendships. When it came to foreign policy, partisanship stopped at the water's edge.
The greatest cooperation between the 2 parties probably occurred between roughly 1930 and 1960. The most likely reason for this was the terrible misery caused by the Great Depression.
Since the '60s and '70s the parties have been moving steadily apart, each moving toward its extreme. The Republican Party kept shedding liberals and moderates. The Democratic Party kept shedding conservatives and moderates. Righteous polarization ensued: Republicans called Democrats socialists and Democats called Republicans fascists.
A political war followed. Each party tore down the other party. Filibustering, name calling and smearing became the rule. Soon, the war was also fought in the media. Rush Limbaugh knocked everything remotely related to liberals and liberalism, and his buddies at Fox News became an appendage of the Republican Party. So, MSNBC joined the fray and started tearing down Fox and conservatives. During George W. Bush's administration the polarization was ridiculously intense.
During his campaign, Barack Obama said he wanted to cut the hateful political polarization and get liberals and conservatives to work together to solve urgent problems. Both liberals and conservatives in Congress fought him throughout the first 2 years of his presidency. Conservatives fought Obama because he was a liberal. Liberals fought Obama because he was too eager to compromise with conservatives.
The After Obama (A.O.) Era, the time when liberals and conservatives "disagree without being disagreeable," had a tough time starting. During the stimulus debate, conservatives were against spending money, while liberals wanted a bigger stimulus. During the health-care debate, conservatives denounced the bill as reducing freedom, while liberals were furious that the public option was removed in compromise. During the financial regulation debate, conservatives were for minimal regulation of financial houses, while liberals fought tenaciously for financial consumers; liberals were extremely unhappy that Obama did not denounce the bankers enough. Hateful barbs flew between conservatives and liberals.
A.O. truly began after the mid-term elections when we were faced with a standoff. Conservatives had won the House, increased their membership in the Senate and insisted on extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone, including the wealthy. Liberals insisted that tax cuts should be given only to those earning less than $250,000 a year. Conservatives wanted to cut spending, while liberals were eager to spend in order to stimulate the economy and grow jobs.
President Obama stepped in and negotiated a deal with the Republicans. He realized that the most important issue for conservatives is tax cuts for the rich. So he agreed to a 2-year extension of all tax cuts. To Obama, the most important issue is to stimulate the economy to increase jobs. So he insisted on unemployment insurance for 13 months and for other stimulative tax incentives amounting to a total of $450 billion, which is expected to produce about 2.2 million jobs. Not bad, considering that the total for the 2-year tax extension for the rich amounts to about $75 billion.
Liberals are screaming while Republicans are sitting back and enjoying the show. Neither group understands what has happened. The O.A. era has started in earnest. President Obama is demonstrating to both aggressive parties that the time for fighting is over and the time for negotiating has arrived. Our problems are so great we can't afford to keep fighting. We must negotiate in order to achieve the best solutions.
Obama has been called so many names, I haven't got enough space to list them all. I believe he is a liberal, plain and simple. But unlike most people who call themselves liberal, he does not want to fight conservatives who disagree with him. He prefers to negotiate with them: conservatives get to help the rich, while he gets to help the middle class and the poor. The final result can be harmony and prosperity.
Welcome to the After Obama (A.O.) Age. I am an Obama liberal.