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Remember November

Sometimes a review of history, no matter how recent, is important. Lessons of history inform our present and give directions to the future.
On November 4, 2008 Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. On November 4, 2008 the Democratic Party (the party to which Barack Obama belongs) achieved the largest majorit9ies in the House of Representatives and the Senate in more than three decades. At the clear risk of redundancy, On November 4, 2008 Barack Obama and the Democratic Party won – they won the White House, the won majorities in the Congress, they won nationally.
This bit of history is important because it seems that, for the past fourteen months, the President and the Democratic leadership in the Congress has forgotten these referenced facts. Riding the crest of a tsunami of progressive hope and desire change, they had the power to translate vision into action, to transform concept into reality.
Keep in mind that Barack Obama was not a stealth candidate. His agenda was clear. His vision was articulated and analyzed and endorsed by 53% of the American electorate. A greater majority than George W. Bush achieved in either of his two electoral battles for the presidency. And yet, George Bush proclaimed a mandate, ephemeral though it was, and acted as if he had a mandate.
Barack Obama and the Democrats actually received a mandate from the American people and yet they have acted as if they need to be reminded that they won and that the Republicans lost. We have heard endless lamentations regarding the obstructionist tactics of the Republicans in the Congress and how nothing can be accomplished without 60 Democratic votes in the Senate, even though George Bush never had 60 Republican votes in the Senate during his 8 years in office.
Barack Obama has hundreds (!!!!!!) of executive appointments being held hostage by the Republicans in Congress and we have heard statements from the White House decrying the lack of bipartisan cooperation. George Bush simply utilized the tactic of recess appointments (perfectly legal and constitutional) and put his people to work implementing his benighted agenda.
Why the Obama White House doesn’t take a page from this playbook is baffling. While the Democrats await some kind of Republican epiphany and conversion, time is passing, action is not being taken and the Obama agenda is not being implemented. And when the midterm elections are held this November and there is not enough of a record of achievement and accomplishment, when the work of the federal government has not demonstrated the transformational shift that was the rallying cry of November 4, 2008, there will be change once more and it will not be to the liking of the White House or the Democratic Party.
The Minority Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has gone on the record that he will teach President Obama “a lesson” and that the President and the Democrats will “have to learn the hard way” that their political agenda will not be implemented. This, despite the will of the American people, just expressed at the last national election.
Senator McConnell’s words reek of paternalism and nullification, and if you perceive more than a hint of hoary racial undertones, you are probably not in error. Even in this era of partisanship, Senator McConnell has jumped that ship and swims in outrageous waters.
But we still wait for President Obama and the Democrats in Congress to pick up the soiled gauntlet that Senator McConnell has thrown down. We still wait for President Obama and the Democrats to remember November 4, 2008 and to start acting like they won. Whether the tactic is budget reconciliation or recess appointments or retreating from useless bipartisan gestures, it is time for the President and his colleagues in government to start acting like they won or they will surely lose the next time.

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