Last week, President Obama took the low road in campaigning before this week’s mid-term elections. In candid statements, Obama referred to Republicans as the “enemies” and said that Republicans “can come along for the ride but they can sit in back.” Here is the president that preached change, about unity and reaching across the aisle for partnership during the eighteen months leading up to his election back in 2008. Now, as the president of all Americans he makes these divisive statements. Out of frustration? Out of resentment? We can’t know for sure.
For the last twenty years, the divide in our nation has continued to grow and Obama was to be different. American wanted different and deserves different. When we hear him call his “fellow Americans” the enemy (as if they are Al–Qaedaoperatives) it should sadden all of us. When Obama used the term “enemies,” the first thing that came to mind was a speech by another president at time when the country was even more divided then it is today. At no greater time in our nation’s history was this country divided as much as it was duringAbraham Lincoln’s presidency. In his first inaugural speech (just prior to the start of the Civil War), Lincoln used words to soothe a hurt nation. He reminded his fellow Americans;
This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it…While the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years…In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right?
Lincoln closed his first presidential speech with this statement; We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
This is how a president leads during great divisiveness. If we look back at Obama’s pre-election speeches, this was similar to the manner in which he spoke. Just two short years later, look at how much he has changed.
With loss of the Democratic majority in the House, if Obama wants to get re-elected in 2012, he will have no choice but to practice what he preached during his campaign. He will need to make a change. If he looks at two successful predecessors, Reagan andClinton, he can find inspiration. Both lost their party’s majority in the house during mid-term elections and went on to win in landslide victories for their own re-election. Obama just needs to be willing and able to compromise. Reagan did it. Clinton did it. He will have to do it or he will be destined to be a one-term president. He needs to be reminded that both red and blue states worked to get him elected and create the “Purple America” that got him into the White House. As Hilary Clinton once wrote “It Takes a Village.” Obama hopefully can realize his village includes those who he considers his enemies.
Locally, here in California (unlike the rest of the country), we voted to stay the course. It was obvious we didn’t want much in the way of change (unless you count change as going back to the late 70s when Jerry Brown was governor). We sent Boxer back to the Senate and are sending back nearly all the congressional incumbents back to the congress. Here in the Inland Empire (where unemployment is 15% and the leading the nation), we voted to send every single congressional incumbent back to Washington to continue doing what they have been doing for job creation and improving the quality of our lives here in the IE. For you’re looking for change and an improving economic situation, unless President Obama leads that change, we voted for things to pretty much stay the same. Based on how California voted these must be the good times.
Click here to read more on the Lincoln Inaugural speech on B.K. Bergman’s blog.
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