The Politics of the Status Quo
April 14, 2013
Not surprisingly, the current politics of shoring up the status quo continues, as is evidenced by Obama’s “budget” proposals dealing with Social Security and Medicare. These proposals have been lamented by some liberal Democrats, which of course the White House knew would happen and, I contend, wanted to happen. Here are the last three paragraphs from the article in the NY Times:
“Certainly today, and presumably still at the time of the next election, President Obama has enormous credibility with Democratic voters, particularly liberal Democrats,” Mr. Garin said. That credibility extends, he added, to the president’s case for making changes that bolster the finances of the social-insurance programs for future generations.
“While I have no doubt that there would be some Democratic voters who rally around a candidate who runs on a ‘don’t touch Social Security or Medicare’ platform,” Mr. Garin added, “there would not be enough to sustain a candidacy unless that candidate has a lot of other things going for him or her.”
As this pollster points out, those who oppose such policies have nowhere to go. Besides, by opposing a president with an alleged “enormous credibility,” these opponents will look like “radicals,” like people who refuse to work toward a compromise with Republicans. But, of course, this assumes that “compromise” is Obama’s goal. If, however, his goal is to make Social Security vulnerable to “significant changes,” then his strategy is well geared to take down those in his own party who oppose such changes by marginalizing them.
One problem with many analyses of what is happening in Washington these days is the assumption, rarely challenged, that what Obama is seeking is “compromise,” that his goal is to work with Republicans to reach “a deal” that will satisfy most of the members of both parties. However, if this is not his goal, if in fact his goal to perpetuate the current alignment of political forces – which means of course favoring policies that serve the interests of establishment Republicans and Democrats, usually at the expense of those who have not or have less – than these analyses are pretty much worthless. In fact, they would serve Obama’s strategy because they reinforce his image as a “compromiser.”