Time To Govern

November 7, 2012 2:00 am

by Charlie · 38 comments

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

Four years ago, Americans came to the polls and swept Democrats into control of the White House and Congress.  It was a landmark and sweeping election of historic proportion.

Two years ago, citizens responded by organizing a TEA Party and took back the House of Representatives as well as some of the seats in the Senate.

Tuesday, Americans returned to the polls and re-elected the President with turnout in some areas surpassing the 2008 fervor that elected President Obama the first time.  They also reaffirmed the House majority.  For at least the next two years, Americans have voted for divided government.  Politicians of both parties should be very careful of interpreting this as a desire that they want our government to be divisive.

Despite retaining the House, Republicans are clearly the ones who came up short on Tuesday.  Many were convinced there was no way they could lose.  They did.  The President will remain our President.  This is now settled.

The Republican political class will now form a circular firing squad.  It is how political operatives simultaneously project blame away from themselves while positioning themselves and/or their potential candidates for the next campaign.  Non-politicians should not only avoid getting caught up in this inevitable drama, they must reject it.

Instead, they should take a good look at Chris Christie and his actions of the last week.  Some began pre-emptively blaming him for Romeny’s loss before superstorm Sandy’s winds had died down, saying he was killing Romney’s campaign so he could run in 2016.  See the above paragraph to understand those barbs.

But Christie should not be looked at because he needs to be the front runner for 2016. Despite the fact that pundits will be rushing to fill airtime with projections of the next horse race, Republicans need to look at next week, next January, and 2014 before they even begin to attempt what it will take to win the White House.

Republicans are at a point where they will have to convince a broad cross section of potential swing voters that they know how to govern.  That they want to govern. 

Christie can articulate what Government should do and shouldn’t do, but that’s all about talk.  Last week, Christie put the national campaign aside and did what he needed to do as Governor of his state.  He continues to do so.  He doesn’t look like a man who thinks government IS the problem.  He looks like a man who understands what many of the problems of government are, and how to fix them.  But last week, he also demonstrated a Republican can make government work.  That there are times that government must work. More Republicans should remind voters they understand this.

This is not to imply that the Republicans must roll over in the House because the President won re-election.  Rather, there needs to be a true battle of ideas.  Not recycled old ideas and stale talking points.  Republicans need to present and defend a clear vision for what they expect the federal government to do, not do, and how it will be paid for.

Meanwhile, the President should pick up not where his divisive campaign left off, but where his 2008 campaign left off.  He needs to speak less of revenge, and more of hope.  He needs to surround himself with an inner circle that will challenge him and present alternating ideas.  Most of all, he needs to form the relationships with leaders of both parties on Capitol Hill that most successful Presidents have had.

The campaign is over.  Before starting the discussions of 2014 and 2016, there must be time for governing.

Republicans need this time to prove they can govern, or have a real plan to govern if given the chance.  President Obama needs this fresh start to become the President the country hoped he would be in 2008.

Many are unhappy about the election results. Many aren’t.  We remain a divided country, with a divided government.  This doesn’t mean the government we have can’t work.  There are many problems that need to be solved, and Congress returns next week to get to work.

The time for speeches is over.  It is time for us to demand solutions.

The campaign is over. It is time to govern.

caroline November 7, 2012 at 7:31 am

Good post.

Grandson of Flubber November 7, 2012 at 7:33 am

Under no circumstance could I ever vote for Chris Christie. This opinion will not change.

John Konop November 7, 2012 at 8:23 am

The exit polls are clear he had nothing to do with the results in a material way. Romney lost women and Latinos end of story. If Romney had gotten the same percentage of Latino vote that McCain got 4 years ago Romney would be president.

Chris Christie is the best national candidate the GOP has by far. He is a bottom line fiscal conservative who does not pander to social conservatives and is rational about immigration. He is the path the GOP needs to get back into the national game.

caroline November 7, 2012 at 8:26 am

Not so good on the fiscal issues because he gave money to a failing shopping center.

John Konop November 7, 2012 at 8:32 am

Overall he made the tough calls on pensions in his state. And that is the real fiscal cliff issue on a federal and state level we all face.

John Konop November 7, 2012 at 8:30 am

One last thing, Chris Christie has made the tough fiscal calls! The problem with the GOP is many play the social conservative card and have not been fiscally conservative ie Medicare part D, 2 wars with no money to at for it, No Child Left Behind……….

The GOP needs to be a fiscal balance to the Dems , not the bedroom police party that is anti immigration and women.

Lea Thrace November 7, 2012 at 8:36 am

If the GOP you describe were a reality, no other party would have a chance with me. Majority of independents would all of a sudden become Republican. The sun would shine and birds would sing. :-D

Alas, its never going to happen. The small crazy population of the party have grabbed the wheel and no one is brave enough (at this point) to put them back in their straight jackets.

bowersville November 7, 2012 at 8:40 am

The small crazy population of the party have grabbed the wheel and no one is brave enough (at this point) to put them back in their straight jackets.

Independents and Democrats will.

caroline November 7, 2012 at 8:47 am

Let the GOP log a few more losses nationally and then see what happens.

seenbetrdayz November 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm

I don’t know. They don’t seem to have a good record of learning from their mistakes. I tried warning them that Romney wasn’t distancing himself enough from Bush. They might have had a better chance if Romney had just stood on stage with his mouth shut during the foreign policy debate.

Engineer November 7, 2012 at 9:12 am

I agree, one of the biggest things that has been irritating me with the GOP in the past several years is preaching about the government being too intrusive, all while pushing for more government intrusion into the private lives of citizens (on social issues).

Grandson of Flubber November 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

Anti-immigration and anti-women. Please explain each, John.

John Konop November 7, 2012 at 11:19 am

The truth is if you do not understand the problem, than you are part of the problem in the GOP. If the GOP cannot win this election with the current economic conditions, the demographics only get worse over time.

Three Jack November 7, 2012 at 11:39 am

Absolutely correct John. This was a gift wrapped opportunity that only the dysfunctional GOP could screw up and they did.

caroline November 7, 2012 at 11:44 am

+100

Grandson of Flubber November 7, 2012 at 10:46 am

John, while I agree that Christie was not “the” reason Romney lost, I respectfully disagree that his actions and lack of follow-up did not negatively impact the election for Romney. If Christie is the “best national candidate”, the Republican Party is in serious trouble. But this is not the reason I do not support Mr. Christie. It is merely one of one of many.

Christie’s action last week gave Obama an unearned impression of being presidental. I cannot fault Christie for meeting with Obama to survey the damage, requesting help, and even heaping praise. But I can critize Christie for remaining silent thereafter and not ripping Obama for failing to keep his promise of “not leaving anyone behind”. It is a mess up there, federal/state inaction ranks in there with Katrina, and Christie allowed the photo op image to go unencumbered. Christie is a hot-head. Christie is very overweight. I know people don’t like to hear that, but facts are facts and Americans are biased against overweight people. Christie used a state helicopter to attend his son’s baseball game. Prudent use of taxpayer funds, fiscal conservancy? While Christie has not backed down to the NJ teacher’s union, it is to be seen what kind of fiscal conservative he truly is. He verbally attacks citizens who are speaking their minds to him. Presidential? Handling hecklers is part of the job. I can go on with a number of issues I have with him that are unrelated to lask week. These are the reasons I would not vote for him even if he is the Republican nominee. There are better, more electable, solid, fiscal conservatives (e.g., LA, WI governers). But, this is just one fellow’s opinion. For me, Christie was not before, is not now, nor ever will be someone I can support.

Grandson of Flubber November 7, 2012 at 10:49 am

Oops, typo. LA, WI Governors.

Scott65 November 7, 2012 at 11:35 am

Oh, so its all supposed to be fixed in a week…get real. New Orleans is STILL recovering from Katrina 7 years later. It will be YEARS before these areas where Sandy made landfall will return to normal

Grandson of Flubber November 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm

That’s not what I said, slick65. The response for immediate humitarian aide by the Feds. (FEMA) before and following Obama’s visit sucked. The human suffering was all over the alphabet TV. Obama did nothing about it because he was immediately off on a fund raiser in NV and Christie remained silent. That, slick65, was failure on Christie’s part. In any event, he will not have my support, ever.

Lea Thrace November 7, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Your view is completely counter to everything I have heard from family and friends badly affected in the NY/New Jersey areas. They are saying the help from the feds has been nothing but spectacular. Swift and decisive are two words used repeatedly. Where are you getting that FEMA was not quick to respond?

David C November 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm

The FEMA response is also symptomatic of the difference in executive branch government between the parties. Clinton and @Lea Thrace Probably the right wing media alternate message universe. If anything, Sandy reminded people of the issue of competence in government. Obama put experienced emergency managers in charge of the organization and got high marks for disaster relief. Both Bushes made political patronage appointments of cronies and got slammed for lackluster response to Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina. One of the things the Republican Party needs going forward is to figure out that while it doesn’t think government should do everything, it should be well staffed and competently led doing the things most people agree it should be doing.

John Konop November 7, 2012 at 7:53 am

A very good post. I would add that the GOP needs a diferent message/policies for women and Latinos. We have tough work ahead via the economy, but restricting birth control, rape/abortion, not supporting the Dream Act……..we only further hurt the GOP on a national level.

Our country needs a compromised fiscal deal that deals with entitlements and military spending as well as tax hikes. The real debate should be how we do it. I am for elimanting loopholes and write offs and going for a hybrid flat tax and national sales tax. As far as cuts we cannot afford to be the policemen of the world. And we need real entitlement reform, that will not be an easy pill to take. Finally we do need to invest into infastructure to compete with the world.

Most rational people on both sides agree, the real issue is can the extremes on both sides stop the political bs……and let the adults get the work done.

caroline November 7, 2012 at 7:58 am

The best description of the current GOP is by Mike Lofgren. He calls today’s GOP an apocalyptic cult not a political party. The party needs some serious rebranding, letting go of their love of George W. Bush and frankly recognizing that George W. Bush is the reason that they are in the shape that they are in.

You have to remember that Bush’s gay bashing campaign of 2004 is still remembered too. While it worked to get him back in office, it seriously damaged the GOP for the future and also the GOP’s foreign policy is just whatcked.

Joshua Morris November 7, 2012 at 9:36 am

Let’s be clear and quit dancing around the facts here. The America we grew up with and loved for its free spirit and its breeding ground for success is gone. We are about to experience increased poverty and crushing dependence on an unmerciful world community like never before. The People have become wilfully ignorant, thinking that government, this great entity in the sky, will provide them with the things they believe they deserve.

Twist the outcome to make yourself feel better all you like. We have chosen a set of ideals that has never produced a successful nation in the history of the world. Sorry to rain on the feel good parade, but we had better realize that upcoming generations must be taught the truth about personal responsibility if they don’t want to struggle in slums or toil for a meager existence in tiny, expensive urban apartments for their entire lives.

jbgotcha November 7, 2012 at 10:20 am

You just don’t get it, do you? The two party political system is an abject failure. They all serve corporate masters. That is what will increase poverty and the dependence on a world community. Multinational corporations have no allegiance to any country and will stop at nothing to destroy our environment and the people in it for quarterly profit. You are analyzing this from inside an illusion. Step out of the box.

Joshua Morris November 7, 2012 at 11:42 am

“Multinational corporations have no allegiance to any country and will stop at nothing to destroy our environment and the people in it for quarterly profit.”

How would you attempt to prove this ignorant statement? Further, our two party political system has governed the most successful and productive society in world history. I understand that it is not perfect, but it is not an ‘abject failure’ in historical terms. European socialism is the abject failure of the day, but it seems that this is what we foolishly aspire to. Your tired ‘outside the box’ catch phrase says nothing. How about we just use our brains and try to learn something from history instead of learning the hard way.

jbgotcha November 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm

The two party system worked when politicians were still working FOR the people, not for corporate interests. Things have devolved to a point where the system is broken and is not sustainable. Again, catchphrase or not, get outside the box.

Joshua Morris November 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm

“We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants.” – Salisbury, AD1159. Any political system that is ‘outside the box’ has been tried and has failed. There are places for so-called new ideas, but experimenting on nations, which may lead to human suffering, is not one of them. Thousands of years of proven policy and principle have given us more than enough information to work with, but we sneer and say we have better ideas. Bull.

You’re right that politicians no longer work for the people, but this is human nature. The only way to cure it is a personal moral standard that guides one toward service to others over service to self. We’re so busy trashing the roots of the moral fiber that helped build this Republic, that we can’t see the damage we’ve done.

Context and appropriateness are key. Apply your ‘outside the box’ thinking where it might benefit (i.e. somewhere else).

smvaughn November 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm

“How would you attempt to prove this ignorant statement?”

I thought the same thing to myself with regard to 100% of your original post, which was just an exercise in fact-free and hyperbolic rhetoric.

Joshua Morris November 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm

…as you present zero substance. Thanks.

Self_Made November 7, 2012 at 10:33 am

Great post, Charlie. I shall not add or take away from it.

Scott65 November 7, 2012 at 11:40 am

Good post, but I dont think Christie’s motivations looked all that political to me. He just wanted to help his state and the people who lived there. It would be wonderful if more politicians thought along those lines. Put him beside Nathan Deal and compare…and ask yourself why the heck cant we in GA do better

caroline November 7, 2012 at 11:47 am

Nathan Deal makes almost anybody look good.

David C November 7, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Yeah. Whatever political motivations Christie has, his biggest is in leading a confident and competent response to the storm. You can ask Democratic Louisiana Governor Blanco and Republican President Bush how good it looks to be sniping at each other while leading an inept response to the storm–it killed both their political approval stone dead. The best thing Christie can do for himself is do an objectively good job because his constituents will back him for it when he’s facing a reelection a year from now.

He’s roadkill in a 2016 GOP field anyway and I suspect even his ego knows it. Field will be fuller with political talent than this year’s historically weak crop as Governors and Senators from the class of 2010, those who declined this year, plus probably Ryan (though he was much diminished by the campaign) reach for the brass ring. Christie has too many heresies to get past those who excite the base just as much without the baggage. If I were him, I’d be angling to be a well liked two-term Gov. of NJ and maybe a cabinet appointee for whoever wins in 2016.

D_in_ATL November 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm

As a Ron Paul supporter and eventual Gary Johnson voter I would just like to commiserate with y’all by playing the smallest violin in the world.

Engineer November 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm

As a fellow Ron Paul (primary) & Gary Johnson voter (general election), that post made me smile, thanks! :)

Progressive Dem November 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm

A couple of trends: 1) Obama wins with 55% of women voters. 2) Youth vote increased and Obama won, but at lower rate. 3) Hispanic vote up and Obama increased %. 4) GOP won more white votes – a declining demographic. 5) Hispanic vote helped carry Fl, Oh, Nv, Pn. 6) Fl will become increasingly difficult for the GOP to carry unless GOP changes its immigration position. 7) If Florida isn’t in play for GOP, it will have a hard time ever breaking a 200 electoral vote ceiling in presidential elections. 8) The following suicide cases have prevented the GOP from having a majority in Senate: Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Todd Akin, Josh Mandel, Richard Murdoch. 9) Michelle Bachman narrowly won. Joe Walsh and Allen West. 10) Maine and Maryland voted to legalize same sex marriage and Wisconsin elected an openly gay woman to the US Senate. 11) The GOP could not carry the home states of their nominees.

Predictions: 1) The country will increasingly see the benefits of Obamacare and it will become popular. (as its model is popular in Mass.) 2) The Democrats will cement their bond with Hispanics by passing the Dream Act. 3) The GOP will moderate their voices on Planned Parenthood, abortion, equal pay and healthcare or else risk further erosion of the female voters. 4) A compromise on the fiscal cliff will begin to restore confidence in Washington and make other compromises possible. GOP obstruction on 2-4 of the above will be fatal to their party leading to the election of Hillary and a Supreme Court lock.

The Last Democrat in Georgia November 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm

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