Small Wars Journal

Trump Should Learn From Obama's Mistakes

Tue, 11/15/2016 - 11:46am

Trump Should Learn From Obama's Mistakes by Andrew Cline, CNN

Three days after his inauguration in January of 2009, President Obama met with congressional leaders to discuss his proposed economic stimulus plan. To Republican senators who suggested some tax policy changes, Obama replied with what was to become his signature disdain. “I won,” he said.

The next year, Obama held a health care summit, aired on live television, to discuss an Obamacare proposal Democrats knew Republicans could not support. Sen. John McCain pleaded for more Republican input in shaping the bill. He said the people of his state would never get behind the proposal.

“They want us not to do this kind of legislating. They want us to sit down together and do what’s best for all Americans.”

Obama, his eyes down, his irritation obvious, dismissed McCain with unmistakable contempt.

For eight years, Obama pretended that his victories over John McCain and Mitt Romney somehow invalidated all opposition to his proposals. Only raw partisanship could explain his opponents’ positions because, after all, he had won.

But the Republicans who were opposing his agenda had won too. They were elected by real Americans who had real reservations about Obama’s policies. Their voices deserved to be heard. Our republican system of government was designed specifically to empower them. And yet Obama spent two entire presidential terms telling them to get lost.

The United States does not have a parliamentary system in which the majority party automatically controls the entire government. Our executive and legislative branches are divided, and our Congress further split into two chambers, to make it extremely difficult for one faction to rule over another.

The framers of the Constitution saw that a country of close to 4 million people that stretched from Maine to Georgia was too large and diverse to be governed by one ruling party. Today the United States is a nation of 325 million people that stretches from Maine to Hawaii. Any attempt to impose a unilateral, one-party rule on so varied a people will end badly.

Like Obama in 2008, Donald Trump will enter the White House with a congressional majority. The temptation to tell Democrats “I won” might prove too powerful for a man who has exhibited impulsive and vindictive behaviors for his entire public life. But if he can resist it, he has a chance to be the transformational figure Obama failed to become…

Read on.