Since his inauguration as President in 2009, President Barack H. Obama has been different from any other American president in recent memory. Beginning with his campaign in 2008, then Senator Obama stated in a campaign speech that if “the Republicans bring a knife to the fight, we’ll bring a gun…” which literally was a forewarning of what he, as president, would bring to Washington D.C. Since that speech and at nearly every opportunity, Mr. Obama has not brought focus to our real foreign threats or even address issues affecting national policy, or the economy. Instead, the focus has been on the “enemies” of Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party’s agenda.
Throughout the debate over the budget and the government shutdown that resulted, instead of actively engaging the Republican held House of Representatives, the president proclaimed to the world that he would not negotiate with Republicans to find a compromise solution to the budget or government borrowing. Even the mainstream media picked up on Mr. Obama’s narrative and ran articles about the Republicans – in particular, the Tea Party and Conservative members of that body – bent on being obstructionist and even racist or hostile towards Mr. Obama. Throughout his time in office and through each political crisis that this administration has faced has been used as an opportunity to attack the critics as being the real problem or root cause. Repeatedly, the Republicans, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Tea Party members, and others have been accused of undermining the president, attempting to distract the public from the real issues, and of sacrificing the security or economic health of the nation in order to make political gain. There is no doubt that Mr. Obama is an angry president and always in search of a new political enemy to demonize.
Something else that this administration has taught us, as did the presidencies of Lyndon B. Johnson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson, is that there is a real political price to be paid when the president is not willing to work with the opposition party. Beginning with Theodore Roosevelt, his desire to implement his conservation and environmental agenda, he ignored the majority of his own Republican Party, catering solely to the progressives and early environmentalists. As the economy began to falter in 1907, not only did Roosevelt find himself alienated by the Republicans and Democrats who blamed his environmentalist policies as the root cause of the economic depression. It would ultimately be the end of his ambitious political career and would sever his leadership within the Republican Party.
Woodrow Wilson attempted to ram through the very progressive concept of the League of Nations at the end of the first World War. As a wartime president, he did experience a lot of political support from both the Republican Party and his own supporters within the Democratic Party. Various laws were passed to regulate the economy, to control wartime prices, rents, and wages, and to even silence opposition to the war effort. As the war in Europe came to an end, he attempted to tie the creation of the League of Nations into the Treaty of Versailles. His attempt, to force members of Congress to vote to create the League of Nations in order to ratify the treaty ultimately failed and not only caused him health problems, but caused many Americans to support the efforts of the more conservative elements in both parties. The end result was a complete shift of power within the House, a White House dominated by Republican presidents from 1923 to 1933, and the groundwork for the Second World War. It was an angry president unwilling to compromise with his political opposition within Congress that created an environment that would be disastrous for the United States and the average citizen.
Beginning in 1926, a growing crisis in Europe, the American farmer, and the global financial system were destined to create a new crisis much worse than any American politician ever imagined. The Versailles Treaty that Wilson had helped to negotiate had placed extremely high reparations on Germany; with approximately 37% of all GDP of Germany awarded to France and Great Britain AND roughly 16% of all coal and iron ore production from the Ruhr River Valley which was one of the most productive industrial resource regions still under German control (the iron ore and coal rich region of the Sudetenland was now a part of the reconstituted Czechoslovakia). Germany’s inability to repay these reparations would ultimately lead to one of the largest banking collapses in world history as Germany borrowed money from American banks to cover its treaty obligations and for rebuilding its infrastructure. Soon, without any credit available and any real financial means to pay its international obligations, Germany would experience the worst economy in its history. Great Britain and France, who had counted on swift quarterly payments to met their international obligations, also borrowed money from America’s banks with the belief that a German default would be unlikely. By 1929, even the United States would be dragged into what would be later be named as the Great Depression.