I voted for Barack Obama, twice.
Both times, I believed he was the better candidate. And he was.
His economic policies, while far from perfect, clearly kept us from a second Great Depression.
He’s gotten us out of Iraq and, soon, Afghanistan. He’s kept us from a third war.
And he’s done that with, for two years, an intransigent House majority of Republicans, enough of whom believe that “compromise” is a four-letter word, a group as radical as we’ve seen since Reconstruction.
But with that, something gnaws on me about the President. And it’s this: He seems to believe that incessant campaigning is the solution to his problems with Congress.
Each time he’s faced with a stubborn Republican majority in the House, he veers — sometimes too quickly — from negotiation to campaigning.
That tendency seems to reflect a naivete weirdly mixed with arrogance.
The President seems to believe that if he goes about the country, campaigning for his point of view, that somehow that will change minds in Washington.
The arrogance? His personal charm somehow will lead to people forcing their Representatives to change their behavior.
His ability as a campaigner can be impressive, as we’ve seen in the last two elections. But those have been national elections. Which leads to his naivete.
House members don’t worry about national elections. They don’t even worry about state elections. They only concern themselves with their districts. And as we know, those districts tend to be challenger-proof.
So the President believing he can exert pressure on Congressmen by giving speeches to adoring crowds around the country is a serious misread of congressional politics.
No, President Obama’s big mistake seems to be that he believes he can substitute his charm for old time negotiations.
That’s not to say he hasn’t tried negotiations. Anyone who’s kept up with the debt ceiling, with the budget, with taxes, knows that the President spent considerable time in negotiations. But not enough. He’s too eager to shuck those negotiations and speak to the country.
Which doesn’t tend to budge his opponents much.
So, for the past two years, we’ve lurched from one manufactured crisis to the next, the President trying to exert his will, enough Republicans more than willing to govern by crisis. The result? The instability that is reflected in a still-slowly recovering economy, investors and businessmen still nervous about committing to an economy that remains shaky.
The President has yet another chance to negotiate this month, attempting to end the sequester and move on the budget.
I hope he spends this month in D.C., with the Republicans, looking for compromise.
Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.