I’ve spent a lot of emotional energy with this blog bashing congressional Republicans for what I believe has been their obstructionist habits as they dealt with a Democratic president, Barack H. Obama.
My sense of fairness compels me to instruct congressional Democrats to avoid following their GOP colleagues’ lead as they now must deal with a Republican in the White House, Donald J. Trump.
I understand that the roles aren’t entirely parallel.
For much of Obama’s time as president, Republicans controlled at least one congressional chamber. They took control of the entire Capitol Building after the 2014 elections. I remember, too, when Sen. Mitch McConnell, then the minority leader, declared his No. 1 priority was to make Obama a “one-term president.”
The GOP fought the president along every step. Republicans opposed the president’s economic stimulus package right out of the chute in 2009; they opposed the Affordable Care Act; they — along with a handful of Democrats — resisted calls for new laws on guns even after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of 20 first- and second-graders.
The GOP now controls Congress and the White House.
What’s left for Democrats? They’re angry (a) over the way Republicans treated Barack Obama and (b) that they lost the 2016 election that every pundit in the country seemed to think was in the bag for them.
Is obstructionism the way to go? No. For one thing, Democrats are operating from a much weaker position this time than Republicans had when Barack Obama took office.
Still, some congressional Democrats are insisting that they intend to block the president and his fellow Republicans in Congress. They don’t intend to work with their “friends” on the other side. Some Democratic lawmakers have declared their intention is to ensure that Trump gets impeached.
Government isn’t supposed to be an ideological battleground. It’s supposed to serve the people whose votes put politicians in office. There surely ought to be ways for Democrats can look for common ground with Republicans. Need they surrender their principles? Not any more than Republicans should surrender theirs.
I feel as though I should remind Democrats — just as I reminded Republicans during the Obama years — that many of us out here want government to be a functioning body. We want government to enact smart legislation. We insist that members of the House and Senate hue to the principle of good government.
And good government, by definition, means that it works on behalf of those of us who pay for it.