Why Obama Needs To Resume Politicking

While he was campaigning for president many opponents of Barack Obama claimed he was all talk but had no substance for taking job of president. Since elected the problem has been that he has done an excellent job of immersing himself in the job of president but has not done enough to maintain the political momentum of his campaign. E. J Dionne writes:

Seen from the inside, the administration is an astonishing success. Obama has kept his principal promises and can take credit for achievements that eluded his Democratic predecessors.

He pledged to have all combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this month and, as Obama will remind us on Tuesday, he’s accomplished just that. Congress enacted a comprehensive health-care bill and a sweeping reform of how the financial system is regulated. His rescue of the American auto industry worked, foiling predictions that he’d run GM and Chrysler as if they were arms of Chicago’s Democratic machine. There are many other legislative and administrative actions that, in normal circumstances, would loom larger if these were not such exceptional — and difficult — times…

But Obama and his party are also in a hole because the president has chosen not to engage the nation in an extended dialogue about what holds all of his achievements together, or why his attitude toward government makes more sense than the scattershot conservative attacks on everything Washington might do to improve the nation’s lot…

Obama’s mistake is captured by that disdainful reference to “politicking.” In a democracy, separating governing from “politicking” is impossible. “Politicking” is nothing less than the ongoing effort to convince free citizens of the merits of a set of ideas, policies and decisions. Voters feel better about politicians who put what they are doing in a compelling context. Citizens can endure setbacks as long as they believe the overall direction of the government’s approach is right.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was a genius at offering such reassurances, which is why his fireside chats are the stuff of political legend. Ronald Reagan never stopped campaigning for his conservative vision because he was determined to leave behind a thriving conservative movement. Roosevelt and Reagan both changed the country’s underlying philosophical assumptions.

I agree with this assessment of Obama, however would add that this has applied to the Democratic Party as a whole for several years. The Democrats have been very poor at articulating any overall reasons why people should support them. I suspect that this is partially because they have become such a big tent with varying priorities, and that concentrating on any set of reasons might alienate some Democratic voters.

The Republicans are far better at this. They understand how to put out a narrative as to what they stand for. This narrative might be totally different from what they actually do in office, but it does help them motivate supporters.

There’s yet another reason why the Democrats suffer from allowing the Republicans to win the spin wars. Not only do the Republicans distort the facts in defining themselves, they create far more damage by misleadingly defining what Democrats stand for when Democrats fail to define themselves.

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4 Comments

  1. 1
    auntieeminaz says:

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  2. 2
    Tami B says:

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  3. 3
    Rand Pauls Toupee says:

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  4. 4
    ChicoDelainky says:

    RT @ronchusid: Why #Obama Needs To Resume Politicking and not allow GOP to define Democrats #p2 #topprog #p2 http://bit.ly/baMla5

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