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A Message for My Distraught and Deeply Unhappy Democratic Friends

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The mistake Democrats and folks on the left are generally making, in their angry reaction to the recent Republican sweep, lies, at least in part, in their supposition that Obama was the object of unique political obstructionism, unparalleled in the experience of any other president and so they have somehow been cheated of the right to run things in Washington in this last election. If Obama hadn’t been blocked at every turn, the narrative runs, he could have connected with more voters and would have been able to achieve so much more. It was nothing less, in this view, than the obstructionism of Republicans in Congress, that has caused the recent Democratic electoral debacle. But it’s simply false that Obama was the object of any special animus or that he was the innocent victim of racist feelings against the first African-American president.

First, my friends in the Democratic Party should remember the old saw and apply it to history. What came around went around. Obama’s predecessor was the recipient of extensive political obstructionism in Congress during his two terms, especially during his first nine months in office and then after the aftermath of unity in the wake of 9/11 wore off when Democratic politicians returned to business as usual.

More, the younger Bush was the target of extensive public slander — and he wasn’t even a minority! So being the object of political vilification is not unique to Obama, nor is it a function of his ethnicity.

Second, Obama and the Democrats in general spurred on nationwide political anger, including among their opponents in Congress, by dismissing, disregarding and demeaning them instead of taking them seriously or trying to reach out to find common ground. When the Democrats had overwhelming congressional majorities they did what they liked whenever they liked and gave Republicans the political middle finger.

When they lost that overwhelming majority, they then used procedural rules, especially in the Senate, to get their way. Harry Reid blew up the 60 vote cloture rule (used to halt debate so the Senate could move on to a vote) to get his way on presidential appointments. Reid also famously refused to allow bills he didn’t like to come to the floor for votes, and prevented Republicans from offering amendments to the bills he did allow. Later, when he finally found himself in the minority in the Senate, Reid himself used the filibuster, restored by the Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, to kill a Congressional review of the Iran deal so the president wouldn’t have to permit Congress a say in that matter, contrary to a bill Obama had, himself, previously signed into law. Talk about using parliamentary maneuvers to obstruct!

Obama, himself, once he lost control of Congress, chose to simply re-write laws or make up new law through executive action, either by executive orders from his desk or through regulatory expansion by his agencies, without congressional oversight and, often, contrary to actual congressional legislation. Moreover, because the courts are often reluctant to intervene in matters between the other two branches of government, and because courts move so slowly, Obama pretty much got away with everything he wanted during his two terms, even when his actions were later overturned or stayed by the courts. Too often the damage had already been done.

Trump’s rise is a symptom of the growing frustration and anger such political behavior prompted in much of the country. Democrats may like to pretend that it’s all about mean old Republicans doing the honest Dems dirty, but that’s crap. Democrats need to look at what really happened and stop feeling sorry for themselves. Open your eyes, my Democratic friends, to what occurred over these past eight years from the passing of Obamacare on a straight partisan vote (not to mention several other votes accomplished in a similar way), to the Democrats blowing up the 60 vote cloture rule in the Senate, to the slew of executive orders and regulatory expansions the president used to get his way when Congress wouldn’t acquiesce to his wishes.

As they say, what goes around comes around so you all need to stop bellyaching at now finding yourselves on the receiving end of what you all did, yourselves, for nearly eight years. You made this bed you’re about to sleep in, not us mean old Republicans.

About Stuart W. Mirsky

Stuart W. Mirsky, a former New York City official who last served as Assistant Commissioner for Operations in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene before retiring in 2002, wrote a column, "The Rockaway Irregular," for The Wave, a south Queens based weekly, for more than a decade (until Hurricane Sandy changed the equation). He is an original founder of the Rockaway Republicans, one of the most active Republican groups in southern Queens, and author of a number of books, including The King of Vinland's Saga, an historical novel of the Norse in 11th century North America, A Raft on the River, a memoir of Holocaust survival, and Choice and Action, a work of contemporary philosophy addressing the implications of relativism and nihilism for our moral beliefs.

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