Weeks away from the midterm elections, campaigns are working overtime trying to convince voters; and republicans are trying simultaneously to pin and denounce Obama. Most notably, Kentucky Democratic Candidate Alison Grimes had a commercial saying: “I am not Barack Obama.”
Historically, midterms are less successful for the party in the white house, but one cannot help but wonder why the term ‘President Obama’ carries such disdain for Republicans. One can disagree with his politics and certainly Obama has made mistakes, but there is little doubt Obama is an accomplished president.
For starters, the economy is rebounding. Much is still to be desired, but unemployment remains at the lowest levels in years at 5.9 percent. And this positive trend in part stems from the successful stimulus that saved the economy. Even coupled with economic stumbles like selecting members for the Federal reserve Board and Federal Housing Finance Authority, and the sequester (which is not the fault of the president); Obama comes out positively on economics.
For social policy, the Affordable Care Act, despite its flaws, is already working. The cost of the Affordable Care Act, dubbed ‘Obamacare’, is ahead of schedule and cost predictions continue to fall; even inflation on insurance rates is hitting historic lows. Millions of Americans now have access (and have paid their premiums) to adequate health care and income of hospitals are predicted to save billions of dollars as more people will have the capacity to pay their bills.
In energy policy, Obama has been successful in driving up production of domestic oil. Daniel Yergin, an energy historian, stated that: “The export shipment symbolizes a new era in U.S. energy and U.S. energy relations with the rest of the world.” In the same vein, alternative energy has been influenced by federal policies boosting energy efficiency and conservation.
It would behoove Americans to remember that Obama inherited a fragile and deeply partisan country. Pew research demonstrates that a republican president would have faced the staunch obstructionism Obama has. It’s quintessential to recognize that, after two years of obstructionism, any president would have followed Obama’s footsteps by using a democratic supermajority to pass legislation. Despite opposition, Obama has made great legislative accomplishments.
So if Obama did anything of value, would most conservatives say so? Unfortunately, no. The fact that the 2014 midterm election is driven by statements of being close or far from Obama reveals a growing problem in American politics. We live in an age where policy is superseded by ideology. Voting party ballots or opposing candidates solely by their party affiliation is destroying any remnants of functional political environment. The Anti-Obama phenomenon is destructive, and I am willing to bet that the 2014 election will compound this problem as people will be elected on superficial or vacuous categories. We need policy wonks, not ideologues. And our democracy needs unbiased leaders who can compromise while also putting the advancement of the common good ahead of political capital.
Taylor Tielke, 2015, is a politics blogger for the Concordian. He is a junior from Yankton, South Dakota and at Concordia he studies political science, global studies and history. Besides the Concordian, Taylor is involved with Concordia Forensics, peer mentoring and Concordia’s Secular Student Community. In his free time Taylor reads the news avidly, works out and enjoys tea. Taylor finds politics, political philosophy, religion and foreign policy particularly intriguing topics.