Adventures In Bipartisanship

President Obama marked the beginning of his second term by announcing that immigration reform is his top priority. Shockingly enough, the proposal has actually received bipartisan support in the Senate.

Earlier today, Barack Obama addressed a Las Vegas crowd, largely made up of immigrants, and provided them with hope. He optimistically announced that the Senate “gang of eight” has made serious progress in tackling the issues associated with our country’s problematic immigration system. The gang of eight, a group equally made up of Democratic and Republican Senators including John McCain (R-AZ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), has developed a concrete outline to go about this reform by addressing border security, the legal system, and the road to fair citizenship for eleven million undocumented immigrants living in this country.

This is a big, bold, and positive move for the President as he begins his second term in the White House since it signifies many things. On the surface, this reform brings hope for the people living in this country who don’t hold the same right as full citizens. Strengthening border security is a part of the plan and understandably so, as the USA has vast regions of its border completely unguarded. The outline addresses holes in the legalities, making it easier for families to stick together as well as giving foreigners who could help build American commerce and economy a chance in this country. But most importantly, the outline puts a plan in place for the people who are already here. Illegal immigrants already living in the US would be granted temporary citizenship while background checks take place. If the person in question agrees to pay back taxes and learn English, then citizenship can eventually be granted. The system does not promise to move quickly, as these eleven million immigrants must get in line behind many others waiting for the golden tickets (or in this case, the green card.) However the new immigration system plans to be fair.

This concrete system is a large victory for all of the undocumented people waiting in the dark for basic US rights. But there is also a smaller improvement that must be acknowledged in this process; this plan is back by members of both the Democratic and Republican parties. While it is important to note that this outline was drafted and approved in the Senate and has yet to pass in Congress, the fact the two parties have managed to agree on a subject that has been bitterly debated in the past is a feat in itself. President Obama did make it a point to mention that if Congress does not generate a proper bill in a timely manner, then he will draft the bill himself and insist on an immediate vote.

The country is very happy to see that Democrats and Republicans can finally work together on a proposal as important as immigration reform. However, as American, Bipartisan support isn’t something we should be impressed with when it rarely occurs. Bipartisanship is something that should always be encouraged. Although the two parties obviously have different ideologies and opinions on given issues, they should be able to work together without bitter arguments and threats. It is wonderful to see this democracy and fairness in action but it’s a shame that it took an entire presidential term for politicians to throw away the pettiness and consider what is best for this country and its people. I hope to see more Bipartisan generated ideas like this during the rest of President Obama’s second term. Hopefully, this is a sign of progress.   

Obama’s 2nd Inauguration Speech: Pushing a Liberal Agenda?

Despite demonstrating a crucial need for bipartisanship in Congress, President Obama managed to alienate half of the country by pushing an extremely liberal agenda in his second inauguration speech.

After a hard fought political campaign against Republican candidate Mitt Romney last fall, Barack Obama was sworn into office for his second term as President of the United States. In front of a crowd of about a million people, the President delivered a short speech complete with historical references, vague promises to the middle class, and a pursuit to push all things socially and fiscally liberal into the forefront of the national conversation. Whether discussing tighter gun control or health care, it seemed that Obama would be approaching this second term with less tolerance for the shenanigans being pulled by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. 

As the President of the US and unofficial “leader of the free world”, it may be quite obvious that one cannot please everyone on every issue when in this position of power. It was a lesson that Obama had to learn the hard way during his first term as the high unemployment percentage oscillated and Congress took the US economy hostage.  However, after the delivery of this particular speech, it seems that the President is approaching his second term with more of a, “I’ll run this country as I see fit” sort of attitude. For example, Obama is the first President to reference equal wages between genders as well as gay marriage as our generation’s task to achieve. While more than half of the country sees this as progress, there is a large chunk of the country that views these “proclamations” in a darker light.

Once the speech was delivered the outcry from both conservative and even moderate sources was heard immediately. By delivering this type of speech, President Obama managed to distance himself from his colleagues across the aisle. Wayne LaPierre, the executive Vice President of the NRA stated that Obama is “overstepping his authority” when is came to talk of gun control. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that “an era of Liberalism is back” when asked to comment on the speech. Even Democratic leaders thought that the President was leaning too much to the left as former California Congressman Dennis Cardoza commented.

The fact of the matter is that most of the country does not lean exclusively to the left or to the right. The middle class leans towards whichever candidate holds their best interests in mind. And as we have seen in elections past, this notion has been demonstrated by the uncertainty of swing states such as Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. If Obama publicly stated something like this during his recent campaign, he would have lost many of the moderates who were on the fence about these issues, potentially changing the outcome of the election. The last thing our country needs right now is an even bigger divide between Democrats and Republicans.

President Obama attempted to send a clear message through his second inauguration speech; this country will continue to move forward in spite of opposition from other politicians. He delivered his speech with an urgency to be a progressive nation because the United States simply can’t afford to watch idly as the developing world surpasses us in fields like science and technology.  The president evoked emotion from the public by conjuring up images or the poor and struggling as well as merely mentioning the devastation that is now associated with the word “Newtown”. I think that President Obama took an event that should have unified our country and turned it into a “Liberals Only” celebration. As a left leaning moderate, I was even taken aback by the speech. If this speech is a glimpse into his vision of the next four years, then I hope President Obama is prepared to face a storm of opposition and headaches from his Conservative and Moderate colleagues.