Jim Geraghty writes that We’re Living in Post-Deliberative Democracy. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just Chicago-style politics, with the “radical” Alinsky tactics deployed on a grander scale. Is it temporary or will its success breed imitation? That’s the thing with tactics that coarsen the political process: the ends are ephemeral but the means live on.
Michael Gerson, gun control supporter, argues that Obama’s Thursday night tantrum did measurable damage to the cause of gun control and to America’s system of political decision-making itself:
With his last election behind him, Obama is free to be Obama. And it appears that he is, deep down, a liberal commentator of the MSNBC variety — perhaps providing a preview of his post-presidency. The only apparent purpose of his gun speech was to incite the faithful by expressing a seething arrogance.
But it matters when the president of the United States decides that democratic persuasion is a fool’s game. It encourages the kind of will-to-power politics we see on the left and right. In this view, opponents are evil — entirely beyond the normal instruments of reason and good faith. So the only option is the collection and exercise of power.
When the main players in our politics give up on deliberative democracy, it feels like some Rubicon is being crossed. Our system is designed for leaders who make arguments for their views, seek compromise and try different policy angles to break logjams. And when they lose, their proper recourse is … to make more arguments, seek other compromises and try different policy angles.
It’s a great point, but Obama’s disinterest in seriously engaging with those who disagree been obvious for some time now – going back to his “I won” declaration in his first negotiations with Congressional Republicans. When the president wanted to pass Obamacare, he resorted to the Cornhusker kickback and reconciliation, as public skepticism and opposition remained solid. Immigration reform is enacted by executive order. The Iran deal gets rammed through despite House and Senate majorities opposing it; Obama dismissed opponents as warmongers who have “common cause” with Iranians chanting “death to America!” When the Senate wouldn’t confirm his nominees, he just declared them “recess appointments” even though the Senate isn’t in recess.
Earlier this year, he dismissed his opponents as “the crazies.” His discussion of ISIS featured a lecture to Christians to get of their “high horse.”
Obama’s entire presidency is marked by statements and behavior that suggest he’s willing to engage and negotiate with the world’s most brutal regimes, like Iran, but he finds his American critics and opposing lawmakers too silly, extreme, or malevolent, inherently beyond the pale.
The man who bowed to the Saudi King is the same man who called on Latinos to “punish our enemies.”
The president who is so eager to pronounce “Pakistan” “Taliban” and “Koran” in the authentic style of locals dismisses his domestic critics as “teabaggers.”
There’s little sign this will change. The entire apparatus of the Democratic party – from DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to MSNBC to the New York Times editorial board carry this same conviction that their opposition is self-evidently evil and not worthy of a real debate. Obama most likely successor, Hillary Clinton, goes long stretches without serious questioning from journalists and is proposing changing the nation’s gun laws through executive action.