Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Final Push

Far be it from me to argue with one of the greatest historical minds of the 20th century, but we essentially have an executive that serves a six year term, even if we get two extra bonus lame duck years for our efforts. So it has been with most other presidents, and so it probably shall be with Barack Obama. This is his sixth year; if it doesn't happen this year, chances are that none of his high priority agenda items will become law in 2015 or 2016.

That's why 2014 represents the final push for immigration, tax reform, a higher minimum wage, climate policy and every other item on the left-wing wish list. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. History has taught us that the first push rarely results in success when it comes to big change. Look how long it took to get healthcare reform. Sometimes the push is necessary if for no other reason than to get an idea in the public's mind and to prepare them, or to follow their lead, when it comes to legislation.

Like marriage equality, which coalesced into a major civil rights issue in a short amount of time, the push for rights for all people goes as far back as Stonewall in 1969 and the Supreme Court's ruling for and then reversal on, anti-sodomy laws in 1986 and 2003. Progressives have been highlighting income inequality and the rising gap between wealthy and not for decades. Now that cry is becoming a major force in calling for a higher, livable minimum wage that just could pass this year. After all, most people, even Republicans, support it.

The same will most likely be true of climate legislation, immigration, privacy and energy. More and more younger people realize that their world is changing and that the United States either has to catch up to other countries who are already addressing the problems or fall behind to our economic and social detriment. The far right is beginning lose its grip on the Republican Party, and while I don't see a more moderate wing surging anytime soon, I do see a less strident GOP in our future. That's good news.

This year will see one or two major pieces of legislation, with the rest of Obama's agenda left to the next Democratic president and a more willing population. I think we are moving in the right direction, but like anything done well, this will take time.

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