News / USA

Analysts: Prospects For US Bipartisanship In 2010 Uncertain

U.S. President Obama renews effort to reach out to opposition Republicans, but upcoming 2010 congressional elections may favor political calculations over cooperation

Multimedia

As he begins his second year in office, President Barack Obama is renewing his effort to reach out to opposition Republicans, despite the fact that 2010 is a congressional election year in the United States. 

After his election in 2008, Mr. Obama promised to try to change the partisan tone in Washington.  After a politically polarizing first year in office, the president renewed a challenge in his recent State of the Union Address for both major political parties to work together, especially opposition Republicans.

"Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it is not leadership.  We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions," Mr. Obama said.

A few days later, the president took the unusual step of answering questions from House Republicans who complained that Democratic congressional leaders routinely dismiss their ideas and proposals.

Among them was Republican Congressman Tom Price of Georgia.

 "What should we tell our constituents who know that Republicans have offered positive solutions to the challenges that Americans face, and yet continue to hear out of the administration that we have offered nothing?" Price asked.

The president said he would do what he could to improve the prospects for bipartisan cooperation in Congress.

"We have to think about tone.  It is not just on your side, by the way.  It is on our side as well.  This is part of what has happened in our politics where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do," Mr. Obama said.

Public-opinion polls show most Americans would like to see more cooperation between the two parties in Washington.  But finding areas of common ground has proven to be difficult.

House Republican leader Congressman John Boehner of Ohio appeared on NBC's 'Meet the Press' program.

"Republicans have an obligation to stand on principle and to fight these proposals, but at the same time, to offer better solutions," Boehner said.

The polarized nature of U.S. politics has been evolving for decades, but reached a crescendo in the 1990's when Republicans took control of Congress during then President Bill Clinton's second year in office.

Republicans are poised to gain congressional seats in the November midterm elections, and Historian Allan Lichtman says that makes it less likely that many Republicans will be in a mood to cooperate with the Obama White House.

"That is precisely the strategy that Republicans are following today.  We will return to power by pasting as many big defeats as we can on the president of the United States.  And with the victory of Scott Brown [in Massachusetts], the Republican who stunningly took over the seat held by the liberal conscience, Ted Kennedy, the Republicans believe that their strategy of implacable opposition to what Obama wants to do is succeeding," Lichtman said.

Even as the president extends an uncertain olive branch to the opposition, he is also mindful that his own liberal Democratic base needs some reassurance.

Elizabeth Sherman is a professor of political science at American University in Washington.

"I think that he is basically saying we are not giving up, we are not throwing in the towel.  Let us lock arms and march forward.  I think he is saying that not everybody is going to get what they want," Sherman said.

In fact, many liberals believe the president has already shown too much of an inclination to give in to conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans.

David Sanger is Chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times.

"I think that Barack Obama's biggest problem in his first year was that expectations were set this high and the problems were even higher.  And I think that many of his deepest supporters are disappointed that he seems to have moved more to the middle in a very pragmatic way to address those problems instead of bringing about the kind of change that I think they imagined," Sanger said.

Historian Allan Lichtman says the bipartisan overtures are likely to fade as the November congressional election draws near.

"Republicans have two choices.  They can work with [Obama] or they can continue to be simply naysayers.  And if they continue to be simply naysayers, you are going to see the president later on as the campaign approaches challenging the Republicans as a party of simply delay and obstruction," Lichtman said.

Looking ahead to the elections, Republicans appear more motivated at the moment, fueled by opposition to the president's health-care reform plan and grassroots conservative anger at government spending and deficits.  Republicans lost seats in the previous two elections, in 2008 and 2006.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs