Barack Obama still has over a year to serve of his 8 year term as President of the United States, but already the historically minded among us are concerning ourselves with assessing his legacy.
Of course, it will be many years until we are able to build a satisfyingly full picture of what this legacy will look like, and even then determining whether his actions were for good or ill will be a near impossible task. However, as it stands, we can make some good guesses as to what, barring any mega-crisis presenting itself before January 20th 2017, will be the cornerstone achievements of his tenure. Such a list will surely include The Affordable Care Act, which greatly reformed American Healthcare, Marriage Equality, which was made possible by his Supreme Court nominees and the Economic recovery, arguably helped by his efforts, including a massive stimulus package he signed into law.
What this list will not include, however, is comprehensive immigration reform, extended gun control legislation, a minimum wage hike or real action on Climate Change. Why? Because historic Democratic majorities in Congress, America’s Federal legislative body, were wiped out within 2 years of Obama’s inauguration.
While the President has been able to use executive action, a limited array of powers at his personal disposal which mean he can bypass Congress on some decisions (though these can be just as easily be reversed by subsequent Commanders in Chief), to make small inroads on some of his heartfelt progressive causes, the highly partisan nature of US politics means that any hope he once may have had of permanent legislative progress in any of these areas is, frankly, gone.
Even at the local level, Republicans control 32 out the nation’s 50 Governorships, and the vast majority of State legislatures, which have power on a wide array of issues, including education and policing. However you look at it, the Obama Presidency has resulted in Democrats being trounced at every level, bar the presidential, and the picture is no sunnier looking ahead to 2016.
Assuming Hillary Clinton is nominated, which is still almost certain to happen, the Democrats have a good chance of holding the Presidency. They also have an outside shot of a small majority in the Senate and will also probably gain a few of the House seats they lost in 2014 back. But this still leaves the new President – and the nation – in deep trouble. With the same cadre of ultra-right ring conservatives holding the government to ransom in Congress, the opportunity for reform will be as limited as it is today.
What then is the solution to this mess? Some argue for wholesale reform of the way the nation is governed, but how they propose this happens when Congress is seemingly unable to pass a budget is quite unclear. Others argue that time will be the greatest healer, with politicians eventually coming to their senses. I will let you be the judge of that hypothesis.
Rather, the only way to save Obama’s progressive agenda is to elect a Republican in 2016. While it may seem counter intuitive, it will almost certainly result in Congress changing hands in the midterms in 2018, and give any Democrat, should they be elected President in 2020, the tools they need to finish the job. While this plan relies on a great many assumptions, using statistics from the ‘Sabato’s Crystal Ball’ website, it looks as if the least of these is that a Republican being elected next year will result in a Democratic Congress in 2018.
Unnatural as it sounds, to save liberalism, it seems the best idea is to vote Republican in 2016.