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Obama Should Work With Opposition During Final Two Years

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In the weeks following the GOP’s sweeping Congressional victory, President Obama has been more forthright with his political views than usual. He publicly outlined a specific plan for the FCC to consider in its net neutrality deliberations, he’s pledged to send more troops to Iraq, and he asserted his position on climate change. He’s also expected to announce a 10-point plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, as Fox News reports. 

In response to the President’s forthcoming plan for immigration reform, House Speaker John Boehner delivered the reactionary rhetoric we’ve come to expect from him. “We’re going to fight the President tooth-and-nail if this is the path he wants to take,” Boehner said on Thursday. In many respects, that’s how Obama’s final two years in office are expected to be characterized: a constant battle with the opposing party’s rule that’ll be almost impossible to surmount. It’s also likely that the “if” in Boehner’s statement is essentially irrelevant. The GOP is going to “fight the President tooth-and-nail” no matter what he proposes. 

With the end of his role in the nation’s highest executive office, what can Obama be expected to do? It appears as if his only option is to fight back, to lead the country based on what he believes to be the best options while waiting to see how the country and his political opposition responds. It's what he's been doing most of the time he's been in office, but now he can deliver more blunt plans and opinions without the political game getting in the way. As The New York Times reports: “[Obama] feels liberated by the end of the campaign. He can now pursue his long-term agenda, [advisors] said, without being tethered to the short-term electoral concerns of his party’s leadership in Congress.” 

Obama describes immigration reform as “long-overdue,” which could be seen as a strange statement from a president who’s been rightfully described as “Deporter-in-chief.” He’s vowed to use executive action to achieve that reform, which would expand “deferred action” for young illegal immigrants, parents of U.S. citizens, and legal permanent residents, as well as other provisions such as lowering the fees for naturalization. Despite his track record to date, this reform is important and, indeed, long overdue.

The President has maintained a strong vision for the country throughout his time in office, and the only choice he has is to make his plans for key issues clear while working with those that disagree with him. If that happens, democracy will run its course. As he said himself to ABC News during his recent trip to Asia: “The one thing that I think is going to be important to have a successful partnership over the next couple years is not making disagreements on a single issue suddenly a deal breaker on every issue. Democracy can never work that way.” 


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