President Obama has “compromised” on everything from financial regulation and healthcare to taxes.
Obama claims that all of his “compromising” shows that he’s getting things done. After all, politics was long ago defined as “the art of compromise”.
On it’s face, it makes sense that if both conservatives and liberals hate legislation, it must mean that there was give-and-take, and it ended up somewhere in the middle.
But that isn’t necessarily true.
Specifically, as I pointed out last month:
Conservatives tend to view big government with suspicion, and think that government should be held accountable and reined in.
Liberals tend to view big corporations with suspicion, and think that they should be held accountable and reined in.
Okay, stay with me here for a minute …
Conservatives hate big unfettered government and liberals hate big unchecked corporations, so both hate legislation which encourages the federal government to reward big corporations at the expense of small businesses.
As an example, both liberals and conservatives are angry that the feds are propping up the giant banks – while letting small banks fail by the hundreds – even though that is horrible for the economy and Main Street.
The Dodd-Frank financial legislation wasn’t a compromise where things landed somewhere in the middle between liberal and conservatives ideas. Instead, it enshrines big government propping up the big banks … more ore less permanently.
Many liberals and conservatives look at the government’s approach to the financial crisis as socialism for the rich and free market capitalism for the little guy. No wonder both liberals and conservatives hate it.
And it’s not just the big banks. Americans are angry that the federal government under both Bush and Obama have handed giant defense contractors like Blackwater and Halliburton no-bid contracts. They are mad that – instead of cracking down on BP – the government has acted like BP’s p.r. spokesman-in-chief and sugar daddy.
They are peeved that companies like Monsanto are able to sell genetically modified foods without any disclosure, and that small farmers are getting sued when Monsanto crops drift onto their fields.
They are mad that Obama promised “change” – i.e. standing up to Wall Street and the other powers-that-be – but is just delivering more of the same.
They are furious that there is no separation between government and a handful of favored giant corporations. In other words, Americans are angry that we’ve gone from capitalism to oligarchy.
So if both liberals and conservatives hate something, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a compromise. It may mean that they feel disenfranchised from a government that is of the powerful and for the powerful.