President Obama’s biggest problem over the next two years may not be coming from recalcitrant Republicans, but from members of his own party blanching at his activist agenda over the final two years of his presidency. While the midterm election results suggested widespread dissatisfaction with the president’s policies, Obama nonetheless is planning to press forward on several polarizing decisions in his final two years. It could help advance his legacy, but come at the expense of the Democratic Party’s long-term health.
Three of the administration’s biggest agenda items—threatening a veto of bipartisan legislation authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, reaching a nuclear deal with Iran, and issuing an executive order legalizing millions of illegal immigrants—divide Democrats, and unite Republicans. If the president moves forward with all of them, it would aggravate fissures in an increasingly-divided Democratic Party. And it would put Hillary Clinton, his party’s expected 2016 standard-bearer, in an uncomfortable position even before she announces her candidacy. She’s already avoided taking stances, if not outright rejecting the direction Obama is heading during his final two years in office.
The dirty secret in Washington is that while Obama (rightly) blamed Republicans for holding positions to the right of the American electorate, the president is pursuing policies that are equally as far to the left.