On Leadership, sigh. On taxes, sigh.

Giving the people blackmailing you everything they want is not compromise, it’s losing.

Last night’s deal on taxes isn’t unexpected and that’s the problem.  This isn’t governing, it’s politicking.  And it will hurt the country in the long run on a wing and a prayer that independent voters will shift back to the Democrats in 2012.  There is no other way to explain the deal and the President’s news conference today, where he insulted and ran away from the people who elected him in 2008.

Many are attempting to find the good in this “deal” and believe that one of the reasons not to despair is that taxes will be an issue that the President and Democrats can use in 2012.  While that’s probably true, does anyone think that we’ll be able to have a reasonable conversation about taxes during a presidential election?  Or that anything significant will come from a Lame Duck Congress and maybe even a Lame Duck President? We all saw how good the tax and deficit issue played for Democrats this year.

The bigger issue here is that our elected officials can’t think about governing when all they do is worry about or try to game out the political consequences of each and every decisions.  Governing has become a zero-sum game to win elections.  Our leaders become managers.  The President seems to see Clinton’s “Third Way” as the answer right now.  The problem for President Obama is that President Clinton was willing to stand on principle and shut the government down when the Republicans went too far.  The Republicans were willing to cross that line again – holding up benefits for the long-term unemployed, embarrassing the Country on foreign affairs, and continuing to make sure that the military discriminates.  They even wrote, signed, and made public a letter.  Where was the President to say, “go ahead, we’re going to govern – you can scream all you want”?

Sometimes leading and governing means losing elections.  A lot of good Senators and Representatives lost their jobs on November 2nd because they voted their principles.  They voted for healthcare, supported Cap and Trade, before it went down, stood up for consumers and worked for Americans – not their jobs.  Losing a Senator like Russ Feingold or a Rep. like Tom Perriello hurts, but they country is better for how they led and what they helped to accomplish.  They took a risk choosing principle and governing over politics – something President Obama doesn’t seem willing to do.

2 Responses to “On Leadership, sigh. On taxes, sigh.”
  1. Jesse says:

    Regarding the tax thing as an issue Democrats can run on in 2012–it’ll be the 2010 elections again. Notice how the compromise–which, to be fair, senate Democrats may not allow to pass–gives a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts? They’ll be expiring…at the end of 2012. Do we think that rich folks are going to be okay with that? “Thanks for the extra two years, guys! Too bad we have to pay a slightly higher percentage now, but fair’s fair!”

    Republicans will run on how we can’t allow any taxes to go up at any time, and unless Obama and the Democrats grow some spine in the next couple years we’ll be stuck with nearly the same outcome we’re having now.

  2. Theresa says:

    I may not agree with your politics but your blog is thoughtful. You are correct, Obama did get elected by promising certain things and now he is backing down for the sake of politics. I believe the beauty of our system is what happened in 2008 and in 2010. The ability for people to decide they don’t like the actions of their politicians and to vote someone else in. I may not agree with Obama or be happy that he was elected, but I wouldn’t sacrifice people being able to chose their elected officials because of my own agenda.

    I don’t think taxes should be raised for anyone because I think the government needs to learn to stay within a reasonable budget. Only than would I consider giving them more of my money!

    And enough with life time politicians. It leads to too much politicking and loyalties to others (including lobyists) and more detachment from the people they are supposed to be representing.

    Nice first blog Mike! :). I enjoyed reading it!

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