In the 240 year history of the United States, only in the very early years was there lacking a well organized opposition, evolving into political parties with two differing philosophies of government. Historically the party system has remained an opposing binary system, basically sharing nearly the same vision of the ends (stated in the Preamble) but differing regarding the means.
In popular vote no candidate for President has ever exceeded 62%, which means every elected president has had at least 38% of the electorate who voted against him. On average it has been more than 45%.
Anyone elected President therefore, has no such thing as a sweeping mandate to do whatever the majority wants, but rather must temper his ambitions and his vision with his opposition in mind.
Not all Presidents, history has shown, have successfully maintained the proper perspective, though most have done so. Keeping that perspective regarding the limits of his popular mandates, along with the ideals written in our Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to our Constitution you wrote about, created a cultural tradition in American government from the start in which the President’s political opposition remains loyal.
Right now in American government the 200 year tradition of ” loyal opposition ” is being torn apart. An ever deepening ” two Americas” divide, political polarization into two Americas, one conservative, one liberal, has its roots in, paradoxically, the superficial national unity under LBJ in the mid 60s created by the tragic assassination of JFK.
The north-south divide simmered under the surface from the end of the Civil War in 1865 for nearly a Century. Unjust as it was, allowing segregation in the South to exist undisturbed until 1948 kept an uneasy peace, though at a terrible cost for blacks. All that would be required to resume the simmering culture wars after WWII. Would be the Civil Rights Plank in the Democratic Party platform at the 1948 Convention that led to a southern walkout and the Dixiecrat third party led by J. Strom Thurmond of SC.
Matters might have worked out to a southern solution, if, after prevailing on Civil Rights the Northern and West Coast liberals had left well enough alone. They utterly failed to grasp that civil rights as an issue barely scratched the surface regarding the deep divide between north and south. When, in 1964 and 1965, LBJ and his heavy Majorities of liberals in Congress decided to misinterpreted their mandate to govern by legislating Socialism and Secularism into our nation while preoccupied by the youth rebellion and Vietnam, unwittingly underestimated the moral, religious, conservative part of America, especially in the South but also the West and parts of the lower Midwest, who held pro-family, right-to life, small government, individualistic, self reliant views and saw LBJs ” Great Society ” programs as a dramatic escalation of the culture wars.
However, after passage of sweeping civil rights and voting rights bills in the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress in 1964-65, the liberals made their pivotal mistake; they forgot about the limits of their popular mandate and the historical principle behind the existence of the loyal opposition. LBJ, commanding veto-proof two thirds majorities in both houses of Congress (295-140, 67-33) lost his head more than perhaps any President up to that time. Not only did he pursue the disastrous and divisive Vietnam War-a perfect storm when the huge baby boom generation youth movement was peaking in power- but the rest of what LBJ pursued had far worse and longer term implications. He decided to pursue a socialist agenda through his “Great Society”; vast expansions of federal power and control of education, law enforcement, housing, forced integration, expansion of welfare and social programs, and worst of all, vast reform of immigration laws.
More than any modern President, LBJ created the conditions that accelerated the cultural, political, social and moral divide in America, which had grown more severe in every decade except the 1980s. With the notable exception of Reagan each successive President and in Congress, the dominant party, has wrongly pursued an ideological agenda that serves the party in power with increasing utter disregard for the 40-49% of the electorate who did not vote them into office.
Among Presidents since 1963, only Ford, and Reagan worked with the loyal opposition in my opinion because it was the right thing to do; Bush 41 and 43, and Clinton did so motivated by pragmatism. Two failed Presidents, both Democrats, refused to work with the opposition; Carter and now, Obama. In Carter’s case it sprang from naïveté and ineptitude, influenced by second-rate advisors from his ” Georgia Mafia “.
In the case of Obama however, his refusal to work with the opposition is of both unprecedented extremes as well as a deliberate and calculated strategy that can only be described as darkly nefarious. He appears to treat his two relatively narrow election victories of 52% or less as mandates to ignore the wishes of the opposing 48% of the electorate completely. It is also apparent that his sole objective is to force his agenda on the entire nation without regard to the degree of divisive outrage, anger and fear, unprecedented in the past 150 years, that his policies have created. Both the controlling party in Congress and the sitting President have accelerated the cultural divide by misinterpretation of the mandate to govern. Obama on the other hand has no historical precedent to his unilateral approach to governance. Obamas approach basically has been, for five years, ” we won, so screw the party that lost ” and ” screw the millions of citizens who did not vote for me (him). ”
The loyal opposition is no longer loyal in 2015 America. Badly damaged by Congress and Presidents in the 60s, 70s, 90s, and 2000s, Obama’s lawless, arrogant and dictatorial approach to governance in concert with the equally arrogant leadership in the Democratic controlled Senate, has destroyed the rule of law and what was left of the ” loyal opposition”. Loyalty requires a measure of trust; that we are all loyal Americans. Obama and his allies, clearly not loyal Americans, are being opposed without restraint by his political opposition because Obama has acted without restraint. Now, in the Summer of 2015, staunch opposition to Obama and his allies is considered tantamount to a war to save America from destruction by a power-mad, unbridled tyrant with the arrogance of a savage Roman Emperor.
God, help us all.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com