When hope turns to hopelessness

Barack Obama, the master campaigner, felled by an electoral system in constant election mode

Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign was won fought with a message of hope and change. American voters were receptive to his message and his vision, rewarding him with the Presidency. However, after three years in office it would appear as though any hope and faith Americans had in Obama’s ability to get the country’s financial house back in order is turning into sheer hopelessness.

But the question begs itself, why is Obama failing? Simply put, Obama failed to use his political leverage to broker a deal in a Congress in constant election mode.

Let’s forget for a moment that Obama inherited a financial disaster. After three years in office he can no longer blame America’s financial crisis on his predecessor. When he runs for office in the next presidential election, Americans will judge him on his record, not George W. Bush’s. The argument that Obama inherited a financial nightmare is effectively rendered moot.

Obama is failing because he didn’t effectively use his political leverage to broker a deal in Congress when he was first elected. As political scientist Thomas E. Patterson noted, historically the party holding the presidency loses seats in the midterm congressional elections, particularly in the House of Representatives. This means that any hope Obama had to broker a deal had to occur before the midterms, two years into his presidency.

Obama had a golden opportunity at the beginning of his term when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. That being said, he failed to negotiate a deal on the economy that was agreeable with Americans and suffered the consequences in the midterm elections. The result: Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives, and along with it, Obama lost virtually all hope of negotiating a deal.

In a country that holds more elections than any other nation (the U.S. House of Representatives has elections every two years), Obama has no true allies because everyone in Congress is in perpetual campaign mode. Democrats will undoubtedly try to distance themselves from what they believed to be a lousy deal. Obama has no allies unless he is reelected – and even then he’ll likely spend his second term as a lame duck president.

In truth, there’s a lot of blame to go around in Washington. You can blame it on a Congress with a 14 per cent approval rating; you can blame it on the electoral system; you can blame it on the Tea Party: hell, you can blame it on the rain (horrible attempt at a Milli Vanilli joke, my apologies). However when you get down to it, it is Obama’s inability to effectively exercise his political leverage to broker a deal in Congress that will prove to be his undoing.

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About David Driedger

I'm a Creative Communications student at Red River College majoring in public relations. I have a BA with a double major in political studies and history from the University of Manitoba. I'm also the news editor for The Projector.
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