"This is a time of testing of our democratic system. This is the first real threat we've had in a long time, and will the institutions and rules and norms be sufficient to keep us from falling the way of many other countries toward a more authoritarian leadership.”
Republicans were united in opposition to Obama, but it’s much tougher to stay united on offense. There are a lot of working-class Republicans, for example, who don’t believe the government has any business messing around with their Social Security and Medicare. So Paul Ryan’s budget is a tough sell, and it’s clearly an area where Democrats may see an opportunity to drive a wedge between the president and congressional leaders. Democrats should look for these kinds of vulnerabilities. They should not be deferential at all when it comes to the confirmation process. And they should try to derail a quick repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The idea for Democrats should be to slow things down.
So my hope from the budget conference is modest. Turn off the destructive sequester for a year or two, without insisting that all of it be paid for in the same time period. Set realistic spending caps, mandatory spending adjustments, and revenues consistent with that objective. Drop the threats of another shutdown or debt ceiling standoff. Demonstrate that the regular order still has some currency in Congress.
Sadly, divided party government, which we have because of the Republican House, in a time of extreme partisan polarization, is a formula for inaction and absolutist opposition politics, not for problem solving.
Ironically, Obama tried harder and longer than the results merited to work cooperatively with Republicans in Congress. He has learned painfully that his public embrace of a policy virtually ensures Republican opposition and that intensive negotiations with Republican leaders are likely to lead to a dead end. No bourbon and branch-water laced meetings with Republicans in Congress or pre-emptive compromises with them will induce cooperative behavior.
The reality is it is not tenable simply for Republicans to stay in opposition for the whole second term of President Obama. If they are seen as the obstacle to doing anything to solve our problems, they are writing their own death certificate.
[Obama had a] decisive Electoral College win of at least 303 votes and more than half the popular vote with a 2.5 million margin, while the Republicans lost three Senate seats...It points to an exacerbation of partisan voting and no new coalition building.