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Union University Department of Political Science
Department of Political Science

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Evans Speaks to Local Group About Obama's Second Term

Jan 22, 2013

 This morning, Dr. Sean Evans, the chair of the Political Science Department, spoke to the Good Morning Exchange Club concerning President Obama's second term.  He began by discussing how Obama wants to be a transformational president and usher in the "emerging Democratic majority" build on progressive values.  He explained how the president used his inaugural address to show that equality is the guiding star of American politics and how this connects Lincoln, TR, Wilson, FDR, JFK, and himself. Thus, he suggests that passing equal pay, gay rights, immigration reform, ensuring voting rights, alleviating poverty, and climate change is consistent with the American tradition. 

Moreover, we can see how Obama's belief that he represents a coalition of the ascendant (minorities, women, and the young) leads to his aggressive, uncompromising stand.  Since the Republicans are the minority party in the nation, they must change to appeal to these groups.  Obama wants to force the GOP to move so close to his proposals to split the Republican Party and make his liberal positions seem moderate.  Even if Obama does not achieve all of these policy objective, he will provide the path for future Democrats to follow much like FDR.

While Obama has these goals, he may not be able to achieve them.  First, Republicans have few short term incentives to work with Obama since only 4 House Republicans represent districts that Obama won while there are many House and Senate Democrats in districts and states that lean Republican.  Second, Obama's strategy of going public may backfire as it does not provide the exchange (e.g., win for both sides) necessary for the legislaative machinery to work and the public stand on issues means that if he compromises or loses that he looks weak.  Third, there is not enough money to fund everything he wants which will lead the Democratic coalition to fight among themselves.  Finally, Obama is in a good position now but the problems of implementing health care, defending climate change and higher taxes, and the public's concern with high deficits means that he will be on the defensive through most of his term.