Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rhyming in US politics

Just a small structural insight into US politics (as advertised).
Republicans in Congress have allowed their agenda to be set by President Obama.

Republicans in Congress are being obstructionist; this shouldn't be a controversial statement, since historically they haven't made a secret of it (though, in something rather like a Catch-22, the insight I'm heading for makes it natural to expect disagreement on this along party lines).  But what one ought to be asking is why.

It's simple, really.  When an administration comes in, the opposition usually aligns itself squarely against the central priority of the new administration.  Although this may be a disagreement that predates the new administration, a sadder scenario —for all parties, and for the electorate— is that the opposition may be in disarray and simply not have any better focus than, well, opposing.  On secondary issues there may be all kinds of cooperation, but by default, not on that central priority.

And here we have a president who was really pretty explicit, before elected, that his central priority is cooperation.  It's the message that got him national attention in the first place:  just because we have disagreements doesn't mean we can't cooperate.

Now, consider how one would go about opposing that priority, and compare it to the current situation.

And, to see the other side of the coin, consider how one would go about pursuing that priority — in the face of opposition to it.

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