Today, bipartisanship and compromise both are empty, reduced to sound bites. Republicans, as the health summit proved, are not really interested in reform, only the obstructionist card. As the year progresses, Democrats should anticipate these classic Republican playbook tactics and reframe the reform narrative. It is time for more proactive and less reactive Democratic leadership to emerge.
Obama and the Democrats have got to make more persuasive arguments for reform. Show some aggression; defend your policies in the face of gluttonous Republican banter; become the champions of the working class and poor. These are the Americans whom struggle to make ends meet. Plenty of Americans understand battle metaphors, use them. They worked for former President Bush. Progress is not the enemy, but those that stand, scream, and shout, pulling at its roots are.
Moreover, use repetition; it does work. Constantly remind Americans that the nation is finally seeing the results of the Bush era tax cuts, two wars with no end in sight, unregulated markets, and the dwindling value of the dollar. Republican polices have placed less money in working class America's pockets, leaving them paralyzed and unable to function in a consumer driven economy.
Most Americans care about domestic issues and desperately want reform, whether it is in health care, education, or more jobs, Americans want their government to work. And, it can and does. The passage of 1935 Social Security Act or Civil Rights legislation shows that at particular moments, where exigency is alive, reform is essential to leadership and progress. Republican politicians and certain news media organizations would like Americans to believe that government cannot work. Small government and the status quo rule the day. But, did the status quo free the enslaved African- African Americans; did it fight for integration, abolishing Jim Crow; did it bring the U.S. out of the Great Depression? No, progressive reform policies did. Protecting and empowering citizens is how the government can keep its social contract or promise to millions of Americans. In a country where fairness, equality, freedom, liberty, and justice, are the definitive characteristics, and today, where needed reforms are abundantly clear, leadership is the imperative.