Barack Obama’s Great Republican Accomplishments
Adam Serwer at Plum Line makes the case that if you want to regard the Obama administration’s agenda and accomplishments as “liberal” it’s only because liberals have internalized the lambasting they’ve received from conservatives (even moving away from the word “liberal” to “progressive”) and the goals liberals have embraced are based on conservative ones.
New START is a modernization and extension of a treaty negotiated by President Ronald Reagan and signed by President George W. Bush. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was a Clinton-era “compromise” — and, while seeking its appeal, the Obama administration went to great lengths to appease all the relevant stakeholders and neutralize potential backlash. The Affordable Care Act closely resembles the Republican “free-market” alternative to Clinton’s 1993 health-care proposal and the plan put in place in Massachusetts by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.
Even many of the initiatives that failed had conservative bonafides. The 2010 DREAM Act was a much narrower version of legislation that had long been part of the moderate Republican agenda on immigration, having once been sponsored by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). And while some conservatives descended even further into climate change denialism, cap-and-trade was, like the Affordable Care Act, meant to be the “free market” environmentalist approach.
In response to conservative criticism, liberals have looked for market-based solutions to attain their goals. But as liberals adjusted, conservatives changed the argument to find ways to bash them.
A more limited DREAM Act with harsher behavioral restrictions became “amnesty,” Reagan’s arms treaty would lead to nuclear annihilation, and a national version of Romneycare became the twilight of freedom in America. In the hands of liberals, conservative policy ideas become dangerous, elaborate plans for the unmaking of the country.
Liberals may learn from conservatives, but because conservatives today believe that liberals aren’t “Real Americans” and therefore can’t be legitimate political actors, they don’t think they have anything to learn. Liberals aren’t mere political rivals, they’re Marxists, communists, socialists, “Kenyan Anti-colonialists,” whatever the epithet of the day.Click here for reuse options!
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