The 2012 election is now history. Mitt Romney’s infamous “47%” line will rate at best a footnote in history textbooks, which is a sentence more than Barack Obama’s 2008 “bitter clinger” line has commanded so far.
The past, as they say, is prologue. And even though the next chapter in America’s nearly two-and-a-half-century history is yet to be written, the outline has already taken shape and form. Several key sentences of the speech the president gave on the night of his election victory—“Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you”—have proven to be the empty rhetoric seasoned skeptics feared. The vengeance he asked voters to swear against those who held a different outlook from his own is imminent.
Now comes the next battle to win not the hearts and minds of the American people but their spleens. He wants to increase taxes on the rich, he tells us, though his reasons vary from speech to speech. Sometimes his professed motivation is to lower the deficit (check), at other, more candid, moments to achieve “income equality” (checkmate). Republican legislators protest, insisting that the measure will further cripple the already-ailing economy, and propose closing loopholes. They point to lucrative revenue sources, such as the nation’s vast untapped natural gas and petroleum reserves, but Obama—far from listening and learning—turns a deaf ear on gestures at compromise. The fiscal cliff looms, and it’s his way or the highway.
And where do the American people stand? Ironically enough, 47% of them—yes, 47%!—disapprove of the job he is doing and, by extension, of his plan. Granted the president has a majority behind him, albeit a slight one at 51%, but his supporters are by and large a coarse and mean-spirited lot. They defiantly mock their fellow countrymen across the chasm and offer up crass prescriptions for those whose only lament is that they feel neglected and unheard.
These are ugly traits that Obama’s followers may well have learned by following his example over the past four years.
The president of the United States is chief commander of its armed forces and a servant of all its people. As President Obama begins his second term, it would be well if he could get that distinction straight.