Supporters of Barack Obama hailed their candidate’s ascension to America’s highest political office as ushering in a “post-partisan presidency.” The reasoning behind this wasn’t without reason. After all, Obama had announced at his 2004 Democratic Convention keynote address, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America,” and had promised upon his inauguration “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.” But almost four years into his presidency, Barack Obama presides over a more polarized America than any the Pew Research Center has polled in its quarter century of surveying political division on 48 separate issues.
President Obama failed to convince a single Republican to vote for his signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, and garnered just a handful of GOP supporters for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As former Democratic Congressman Artur Davis told the Republicans gathered in Tampa Tuesday night, “Bill Clinton, Jack Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson reached out across the aisle and said meet me in the middle. But [Democrats] rammed through a healthcare bill that took over one-sixth of our economy, without accepting a single Republican idea, without winning a single vote in either house from a party whose constituents make up about 50 percent of the country.”
On day three of the Obama presidency, the post-partisan president had entered the post-post-partisan stage of his administration. “Elections have consequences,” he told Eric Cantor upon hearing ideas from the then-House Minority Leader, “and, Eric, I won.” Not until more than two years into his administration did Barack Obama hold a one-on-one meeting with the Republican leader of the House or Senate. He routinely submits budgets not to win passage but to enhance his bona fides with the liberal base. When the democratic process rebuked his arrogance in the fall of 2010 he arrogantly rebuked the democratic process. Going to war in Libya after consulting the United Nations but not Congress, slipping carbon limits into Environmental Protection Agency regulations that had failed to pass muster with Congress, and placing controversial end-of-life-counseling into the Federal Register after Congress had explicitly rejected it substantively sums up the my-way-or-the-highway approach. His ongoing “We Can’t Wait” initiative symbolically sums it up.
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