Monday, December 1, 2014

Obama needs to be the partisan in chief - The Washington Post

Obama needs to be the partisan in chief - The Washington Post
By Russell Muirhead December 1, 2014 
(Russell Muirhead, a professor of democracy and politics at Dartmouth College, is the author of “The Promise of Party in a Polarized Age.

Every great president since George Washington has also been a great partisan. President Obama, however, has been reluctant to present himself as a partisan, much less as the leader of a party. This leaves him vulnerable in the wake of his executive action that could protect about 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, allowing his opponents to cast him not as a party leader but a monarch imposing his will on the country....

...In his Nov. 20 speech on immigration, Obama described his plan as aligned with the sentiments of bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate. Although such rhetoric may have been irresistible, a bipartisan strategy betrays the party on which the ultimate success of Obama’s policies will depend. For his policies to endure, Obama will have to succeed in the role that to this point he has disdained: leader of his party.

Today, leaders of both parties are no doubt already strategizing about how to blame the other side for the likely legislative dysfunction of the next two years.

This is the sort of low partisanship that Obama has always considered beneath him and his office. He’s right — it is. What his party needs from him are not petty partisan machinations but a potent articulation of its ideals and goals. If he can describe the Democratic Party to itself and invigorate Democrats’ sense of their mission, he will succeed at investing his policies with the enduring support they will need after his second term is over. What we need from our presidents is not less partisanship but better partisanship.
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