It is a good thing for all of us the 2012 presidential election is over. I’m quite sure the madness of campaign advertising and cable news blitzkrieg would have driven us over the cliff if the campaign had gone on another week. It was a relief this morning to be free – free at last – of the lunacy of never ending conspiracy theory alternative universes.
Freshly re-elected President Barack Obama offered one ray of legitimate hope in his stirring after midnight acceptance speech. He signaled a new direction for his presidency. It was, in some respects, a throwaway line… so you have to hope it has both substance and meaning.
He said the next four years will be spent in consensus building. What he didn't say was that the last four years were not. During the last four years he was a captive of Washington. He made pronouncements and announcements, fought and bickered with Republicans, and just about briefed himself to death. In short, the consensus he sought to build was with Republicans on the other side of the aisle, the conservatives, the tea party fringe, and the timid members of his own party and coalition. My guess is he realized building consensus in Washington is like trying to hit a Whiffle Ball in a 30 mph wind.
My hope is President Obama has figured out the only consensus he can possibly build is outside Washington. My hope is he will take his considerable oratorical skills on the road every day of the second term firing up his people coast to coast to support his solutions to the difficult problems the nation faces.
History has shown the best way to achieve legislative success is to build consensus in the streets for what needs to be done. President Obama must take to the streets with a clear simple message and light a fire under the stockpot of public opinion.
The only way he’ll achieve his legislative goals is to blow the lid off that stockpot. The only way the Republicans in Washington, and some members of his own party, we’ll do anything about the problems we face as if they sense the constituents in their own neighborhoods have blown their lids and are now breathing down their necks. It is as simple as that.
Here’s hoping the president learned a lesson about Washington, about governing, and about himself. Here’s hoping he realized the reality of these two stupidly polarized political parties and their hairball fringes. Here’s hoping he relearned the power he can generate in front of a crowd. It might be the rigors of the campaign trail were exactly what he needed. It became obvious near the end of the campaign that he enjoys this kind of fight, inciting crowds, instilling a sense of urgency and efficacy in the people who come to hear him preach. If he doesn’t get swallowed up by Washington again, he just might be the author of hope, if not change.