I thought that the first half hour of Obama’s State of the Union speech was really good. It was nice to see him so relaxed with an attitude that the Republicans could bite him if they had a problem. In fact, most of the speech seemed very much like the first speech of the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign. And I’m fine with that. The president offered a number of good ideas. Of course, we know they will all come to nothing so long as Americans continue to stay home for off year elections.
The speech got a bit much at the end when Obama talked about working with the Republicans. This kind of act might have worked in 2008 and 2009, but that was only because Obama truly was naïve and actually believed it. But that’s not true anymore. Obama knows the score. But I know what he was doing. He was trying to shame the Republicans. This is something that I’ve been complaining about for the last six years. I don’t mind that Republicans disagree with me. In fact, I defended them after the 2012 election when centrists everywhere were claiming that the Republicans had to “moderate.” Republicans should do what their supporters want. But sadly, that isn’t what they do.
Ideas they’ve always been in favor of, they suddenly decide are socialism if a Democrat is in the White House. I understand that Obamacare was more liberal than what they wanted. But they weren’t willing to go with anything at all. In fact, the one idea that was absolutely theirs — the individual mandate — they have totally turned their back on. But much more important, they are against any kind of stimulus. They don’t believe in infrastructure spending. They don’t believe in anything that will help — as long as a Democrat is in the White House. And that’s shameful. But no amount of shaming from Obama is going to change the Republicans. They are far beyond shame.
Mixed in with all the good ideas that Obama talked about, was one terribly wrong idea:
This is a reference to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). These are terrible “trade” agreements. We know this because if they were good, they wouldn’t be negotiated in secret with the help of corporate lobbyists and the White House wouldn’t be requesting “fast track” authority so that no one will be able to really see what is inside it before a vote. It will doubtless be filled with sweet provisions for our corporate overlords. And I suspect that it is just a roundabout way for them to get the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) because they couldn’t get it through democratic means.
There are two ways to look at Obama’s push for this. Either he actually believes in it, which means that the soul of the Democratic Party has been destroyed. Or it is that Obama thinks he has to make public pronouncements about this kind of garbage for the sake of keeping corporate funders happy, which mean that the soul of the Democratic Party has been destroyed. It is just a travesty. These treaties (TTIP and TPP) are probably the only things that would make me quit the Democratic Party. And I don’t think I’m alone. If the party embraced this, it would make a lot of people just give up on partisan politics — not that many of us aren’t already very close as it is. (For the record, I’ve felt from the start that Obama has had this attitude towards people like me of, “Who else are you going to vote for?”)
But overall, it was a good speech. I like the idea of paying for junior college. Childcare, paid sick leave, equal pay, and an increased minimum wage are all good ideas. Unfortunately, they are all good ideas that the Republicans hate. So maybe the politics will look better at the beginning of 2017. Ultimately, that’s what it’s going to take: something like we had in 2009 for a very short period of time. I’m hopeful that we will get such a chance. I just doubt it will be in 2017. In fact, I suspect it will take a very bad period of Republican rule before we get there. But it is nice to know where we are headed.