I’m still collecting my thoughts on what we saw happen last night, and probably will be for awhile yet — in the coming days, there will be tons of analysis and data-crunching and commentary that we’ll all be trying to decipher. But, in the meantime, there’s at least some small sense I can make of this, and funnily enough, it was Rachel Maddow who I first heard elucidate my approximate point on MSNBC shortly after we all figured out that we are indeed in for four more years of Barack Obama.
I would also just like to, point of privilege, to say, that this is an important moment for policy. This was a consequential presidency, not just because Barack Obama was the first African-American president, and not just because the country turned to the Democratic party after eight years of George Bush and Dick Cheney — this is a consequential president in terms of policy. In terms of civil-rights matters, … in terms of economic policy like the stimulus, in terms of historic, historic change like health reform, and like some of the other reform, Wall Street reform, credit card reform, student loan reform measures, that this president was able to pass. … Had this president been a one-term president, those policies would have been dialed back, along with the rest of his legacy. Those policies will now be held onto in this country as we experience what is almost an inevitable economic rebound that would’ve happened with anybody as president… as the economy gets better, those policies will be in place, and they will become part of the new normal in America.
It’s a pretty difficult job to hold back economic rebounds and growth in America, but somehow, President Obama managed it. He spent trillions of dollars we don’t have on boosting the economy, but unemployment is almost precisely what it was when he got started — talk about results. But, being prosperous and productive and innovative is what Americans do best, and no matter the obstacles, we’ve still got that hard-working, profit-seeking fire in our collective belly.
As American businesses and entrepreneurs start to internalize the fact that they are now inevitably going to have to cope with the coming onslaught of regulations, taxes, and rules that will become the new normal, the economy may improve — but Barack Obama’s agenda means that it will come at the opportunity cost of economic growth that could have been faster, more robust, and would have led to much more wealth and prosperity than what we’ll be getting. Even as we begin to divert ever-more of our economy’s time, resources, manpower, effort, energies, and money toward complying with and paying for more bureaucracy and top-down control, the economy may continue to limp along, but at the expense of a vastly shrunken pie.
So, as Maddow points out, Barack Obama’s will be a consequential presidency, and not just for the “historic” reasons that were lauded after his first election. His major policies are now here to stay, and even if 2016 is a better year for the GOP, it will be next to impossible to undo what we’ll now spend the next four years implementing. This also means that “inherited problems” excuse is not going to fly anymore — this time four years from now, Barack Obama will have a much more difficult time avoiding accountability for our economic stagnation (although I wouldn’t underestimate him — the Congressional-gridlock excuse is still on tap), and if the rate at which this supposed economic rebound is taking place continues to look so very historic in that it’s happening at less than a snail’s pace, maybe we’ll collectively start catching the drift of who’s fault it really is.
Maybe it has to get still worse before it can get better, friends.