We all remember candidate Obama's speeches and promises to unite the nation:
"As he climbed the political heap, a young Barack Obama roused audiences with promises to unite the nation. He was a Senate candidate in 2004 when he told the Democratic national convention, "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is a United States of America."In reality, we are the United States of America but we are not very united.
In 2007, he declared early in his presidential run that "I don't want to pit red America against blue America. I want to be the president of the United States of America."
A year later, after he won the Iowa caucus, he promised, "We are not a collection of red states and blue states. We are the United States of America." And on the November night in 2008 when he was elected president, he insisted his victory proved "we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America." (Goodwin)
There are two reasons, in my opinion.
The first one is that President Obama has been a very divisive political figure. We recall President Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, et al, sitting down with the other side to find some common ground. Instead, President Obama said "we won"!
The second reason for the polarization is the political reality in the states, as Dan Balz explained over the weekend:
"Republican states have pursued economic and fiscal strategies built around lower taxes, deeper spending cuts and less regulation. They have declined to set up state health-insurance exchanges to implement President Obama's Affordable Care Act. They have clashed with labor unions. On social issues, they have moved to restrict abortion rights or to enact voter-identification laws, in the name of ballot integrity, that critics say hamper access to voting for the poor and minorities.My guess is that the divisions will continue. However, people will have the last political word. They will move to red or blue states and increase the electoral vote of that state in presidential elections. So far, the reds seem to be winning that movement
Blue states have also been forced to cut spending, given the budgetary pressures caused by the recession. But rather than cutting more deeply, a number of them also have raised taxes to pay for education or infrastructure. They have backed the president on the main elements of his health-care law. The social-issue agenda in blue states includes legalizing same-sex marriages, providing easier access to voting and, in a handful of cases, imposing more restrictions on guns."
Last, but not least, there is nothing wrong with states going in different directions. It creates laboratories for ideas, something I'd wish we had done with healthcare.
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