The reelection bid of President Barack Obama has posed some interesting dilemmas for those who helped push the change agenda.
The change agenda has evolved into a manipulation agenda, whereby everybody has a new demand for the President.
The new demand is an extension of the old demands of classic “stakeholder” politics; what did the President promise versus what did the President deliver on, with a little “what have you done for me lately” added in.
They represent the segmented politics that either want to continue the change that pushes Obama back in, or be the change that pushes him out.
President Obama cannot escape the realities of voter dissatisfaction around jobs, foreclosures and the economy, nor can he rest his hat on fixing things he had no control over such as the economic collapse, and natural or man-made disasters.
He did catch and kill Osama Bin Laden, and exposed the complicit politics of Pakistan in harboring terrorists, but that has largely been downplayed as a segue to a conversation about not ending the war(s).
At the end of the day, Obama is going to have to look in the faces of his various bases, not those that voted for him because they didn’t have a better choice (they are already gone), but those who really believed in what he was trying to do.
Complicating Obama’s re-election will be those “all or none” manipulators who got more out of this President than they would have gotten out of any other President, but still feel he hasn’t “done enough” or hasn’t done what he promised.
At the front of the line, of course, are the new “Peaceniks,” those who wanted the United States out of Iraq and Afghanistan the day after he was elected. Wars, like most everything else in politics, are engineered. They don’t just “start,” so they’re not going to just “stop.”
Just as the U.S. was engineered into these wars, we’ll have to engineer our way out of these wars. The manipulation here is that the Peaceniks want to say Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan, when the de-escalation of the war in Iraq, and a shifted focus on Afghanistan was what nearly everybody was calling for three years ago. Now that Osama Bin Laden has been caught and killed, we’re supposed to just turn around and come on home. The demand will be unreasonable, but what can another President promise?
Obama is in the same situation with the universal health care “purists.” Passing the first universal health care initiative in 100 years was an accomplishment that has become a curse, largely because of the refusal of all sides to accept that this so-called “Obamacare” was just an incremental step on the long road to comprehensive, quality health care in the United States.
Instead, you have half the nation trying to repeal it, or the other half complaining that it wasn’t what they advocated. To suggest that “nothing at all” was better than “something to start with” is a manipulation of the President’s incremental intent, counterintuitive to Congress’s incremental policy approach and undermines the ultimate victory in the long fight for comprehensive health care reform.