“A revolution is coming – a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough – but a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability.”——John F. Kennedy
Where the second term of President Obama is concerned, the above quote can either be considered wishful thinking or a veritable window for change. There are several lingering challenges that face The President and the Democrats. Achieving these goals despite Republican opposition in the Senate and Congress will clearly determine whether the President’s legacy which the Second Term in Office usually determines can be established.
The first significant issue which was carefully avoided by both Obama and Romney during the campaign trail is gun control. A grave issue which has always plagued American society was put aside only to gain sharp focus after the mass shootings in an elementary school in Connecticut in December, claiming the lives of twenty children and six adults.
This incident led to a heated debate. Steps quickly taken to curb gun violence through universal background checks and a ban on high capacity weapons only met with fervent resistance from the National Rifle Association and other gun groups. The polls clearly indicate that the majority of Americans support the President’s efforts. However, some critics and political observers claim that no real change will occur in Washington. Furthermore, as long as the gun supporting public and organizations continue to wrongly insist that possessing and carrying high capacity weapons are a constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment, how much change is actually possible is anyone’s guess.
The second issue facing the President is the debt ceiling. The House Republicans had insisted on spending cuts while raising the debt ceiling. This was not a negotiable point for the President. With the possibilities of a default and the Congressional Republicans did ease their position slightly, with plans to vote next week on a three month deal to extend the debt ceiling. This is not a long term solution but it certainly buys the President more time. Granted, eventually this issue may be yet another one in which the he two Parties will not see eye to eye.
Immigration promises to be a significant issue in this second term One constituency, the Latin community, which supports President Obama at an overwhelming rate on issues such as gun control and the debt ceiling, would like for there to be quick reforms on immigration issues. Due to records amounts of deportations, many in the Latin community felt that they had been forgotten in the first term. The steps the President did take however on stopping the deportation of illegal immigrants who entered the country as children are most probably not going to gain tremendous support from the Republicans.
These and some other issues where the President knows that there will be fundamental ideological divides are some of the reasons that the unity in the Democratic Party will help to serve their agendas against the now divided Republican Party.
During his first term, Obama and his aides made many efforts to negotiate at length with the Republican Party. All the efforts proved futile. During the Presidential campaign, it was suggested by Obama and his aides that the Republican insistence and determination to oppose him would gradually dissipate if he is reelected. That has not happened. However, there is a rising confidence in the Democratic Party that it can prevail, as it did over the fiscal cliff battle over tax rates in December.
Some experts have pointed out that Obama is not acting rightfully on a confrontational strategy but rather one based on his experience of four years in the hopes that bi-partisanship can be left behind. The Republicans on the other hand, tend to believe that there is a lack of governance on the part of the President and that nothing substantial will get done. This view obviously does not take into account that the opposition on actual legislations being passed will be due to the Republican Party’s own opposition to the issues! If the Republican opposition weakens, the President will be able to succeed in winning major victories. The fundamental question here is: can the Republican Party look at the bigger picture beyond Party lines and work together with the Democrats?
Whichever view is correct, the clock for legislation runs quickly in the second term so time is really of the essence. It is no doubt with this view in mind that the President, in his second inaugural speech repeatedly referred to the urgency of working together on issues. “For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.”
The message is clear. The rest remain to be seen.