Is Barack Obama our most divisive president?

When he waked through Greek columns, President Barack Obama had some beautiful sentiments trailing behind him.  “There are no blue states or red states, there is only the United States,” he said.  He said that he wanted to be a leader “who (would) finally move beyond the divisive politics of Washington and bring Democrats, independents and Republicans together to get things done.”  In 2011, he said: “Before we are Republicans or Democrats, we are Americans.”{1}  A New York Times/CBS News poll found that 67% of those who voted for the candidate believed he “would be the kind of president who would be able to unify the country.” He pummeled his challengers, John McCain and Hillary Clinton, in this particular category of that poll.{2}

“These old political labels of liberal and conservative don’t apply anymore,” newly elected President Obama said.{3} Most Democrats would tell you that the reason these parties don’t get along in 2012 is that Republicans have been hyper-partisan.  Democrats would have you believe that Republicans have been so hyper-partisan that they haven’t even given Obama a chance.  As any adult that has found themselves entangled in long-term disagreements knows, every fight is 50% one side’s fault and 50% the other side’s fault, and until both parties come to clarity on that fact they’ll never resolve their differences.  President Obama hasn’t met with the House Committee Chair, Paul Ryan, in over a year.

Liberal commentators snickered at President George W. Bush in 2000, when he stated that he would attempt to live up to these same promises of reaching across the aisle on legislation.  “Bush may have been able to reach across the aisle of the Texas State Legislature,” they said, “but he’s in for a big surprise when he tries to reach across the aisle in Washington.  He’s liable to pull back a stump.”  One could say that President Barack Obama experienced the same shock after 2010, but anyone who seeks to feel sorry for him should take a look at the record and see that Obama created many of these problems for himself by arrogantly closing the doors on Republicans, saying “I won!”  No one is saying that candidate Obama was lying when he said he thought he would be able to reach across the aisle, but most Republicans now think the extent of his proimise to reach across the aisle ended after he handed them his agenda.

Obama had an excellent opportunity to live up to his campaign promise after the Republicans took the House in the midterms.  He could’ve displayed his political adeptness by following the blueprint former President Bill Clinton laid out for him when he lost the House in the 1994 midterms.  Obama could’ve thrown the Republicans a bone, and he would’ve reaped the electoral rewards for doing do.  Obama, instead, decided to burrow deeper into the left’s precincts by meeting with his cabinet, and Democrat Governors, to find a way to work around the Republican-led Congress.  They apparently found one: Executive Orders.

When speaking of the actions of the Bush administration, President Obama spoke of it being highly ideological.  He promised that his administration would contain a “new and less polarized type of politics.”  He promised a new way of governing, but when he began working on his Health Care Bill, Obama said, “I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of the talking.  I want them to just get out of the way, so we can clean up the mess.”{4}  These words and actions have led many to believe that Obama has been the most liberal and divisive president this nation has ever had.

On the eve of the midterms, 10/30/10, a Washington Post piece by Democrat pollsters Pat Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen called this question of divisiveness into question.  They stated that Obama has been the most divisive president the nation has had since President Richard M. Nixon.  As evidence, they state the following:

Prior to the 2010 midterms Obama did an interview on a Spanish-Language television network called Univision in which he said:  “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”  They state that “since taking office, he has pitted group against group for short-term political gain that is exacerbating the divisions in our country and weakening our national identity.  The culture of attack politics and demonization risks compromising our ability to address our most important issues – and the stature of our nation’s highest office.  He has regularly attacked his predecessor, the House minority leader and – directly from the stump – candidates running for offices below his own.  He has said that the 3.5 million “shovel-ready jobs” he had referred to as justification for the passage of the stimulus bill didn’t exist – throwing all the Democratic incumbents who had defended the stimulus in their campaigns under the proverbial bus.”

When Obama spoke of the partisanship that occurred before him, in the Bush administration, he was speaking of Republicans unwillingness to work with Democrats.  Is there a part of Obama that has been so inundated with the mass media that he thinks that the lone definition of partisanship is Republicans unwillingness to work with Democrats?  Those who warned that Obama would not be working with Republicans simply pointed to his 2007 voting record where he was declared the most liberal politician in the Senate.

When Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist Mark Penn was asked about then candidate Obama’s idea that he could work with Republicans, Penn said: “It’s a great promise,” Penn said. “But are the actions consistent with the words?  I don’t see it.”

Voters apparently didn’t see it then either, as Obama secured a number of voting blocs across the nation.  He was able to secure the white male voting bloc, beating John McCain 49% to 48%.  He even managed to secure 39% of the “white males without a college degree” voting bloc.  In 2012, polls have Obama at between 30-34% of the “white males without a college degree” bloc.  Among college educated white men, the number is 42%, as of 4/20/2012.  Obama is now down six points to Romney among all men, according to a Pew Center poll. {5}  White males, in general, accounted for 75% of the vote in 2008.{6}  Among women, Obama beat McCain by 13% points in 2008, and that number has been maintained.  Blacks, in general, poll plus 89% for Obama, and Hispanics vote plus 46%, and all non-whites vote for Obama plus 60%. Among married, weekly-church-attending, whites: 17% for Obama, 73% for Romney. Non-married, seldom/never-church-attending, non-whites: 86% for Obama, 8% for Romney. {7}

Even the most radical left-wing liberals that say that Obama hasn’t done enough (gasp!) would have to admit that Obama has not been a bipartisan president.  They probably appreciate that fact, but it’s not a sign of good leadership, and it does not fulfill the promise that he made to those 67% in the NY Times/CBS News poll that voted for him.

“In the end, the election of President Barack Obama was not necessarily Barack Obama’s accomplishment as much as it was America’s accomplishment,” Dinesh D’Souza said in the movie 2016.  “Four decades removed from Civil Rights legislation, and all the racial turmoil and strife involved in it, America saw to it that a partially black man was elected to office.” 

President Barack Obama promised unity when he walked through those Greek columns, and by most accounts he has failed.  The question we now have to ask is can we hold him accountable for his actions on November sixth without appearing racist?  Can we judge his record, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., not based on the color of his skin, but the content of his character?  We elected him with the belief that we could heal the racial, cultural, and political strife in this country.  He has not done this.  The question we have before us now is does it make us even more racially harmonious to re-elect him, or do we hold him to account for his record in the manner we would any other politician regardless of race, creed, or color and thereby advance to a more colorblind society?


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