What Kind Of Transition Will We Have?
As we move beyond Election Day and President-Elect Obama prepares his transition, the question remains what kind of transition it will be. A look at past history is not particularly encouraging. In 1993 when President-Elect Clinton came into office, the Republican leaders in Congress were marginally polite but did little to back up pledges of bipartisanship. Within a few weeks of the inauguration they were doing all they could to block nominees they didn’t like.
The party activists didn’t even bother with the perfunctory politeness, openly opposing his agenda within almost hours of his official victory. In 1997 with four years of history in place, things were no better, and in many things they were even worse.
If 1993 and 1997 were bad, then 2001 was probably the zenith of recent transitions. Obviously the controversy over the 2000 election contributed to this, but it was the first time since 1973 that you had protests bordering on riots in the streets as the Presidential motorcade drove by. Once again the party officials made a show of being bipartisan but immediately set in fighting the Bush cabinet nominations, perhaps as vengeance for 1993 but it was hardly helpful.
In 2005 it was much of the same, with both sides battling from the very start. Indeed it is hard to look back and find any recent example where bipartisanship truly ruled and a transition was carried out in a positive manner.
So this leads to the question of what kind of transition we will have this time around. With Senator McCain and President-Elect Obama meeting today I am hopeful we can have a little better of a transition this time around but I am not very hopeful. We have had sixteen years of ugly politics with the White House fighting Congress, Republicans fighting Democrats and so on.
At this time though I call on both parties to try and do their best to prove me wrong. It is worth remembering that while the bitter transitions were often the result of the out party battling the White House that the President’s party was rarely innocent. Often some members of the opposition tried to be bipartisan only to have things thrown in their face. After this happens a few times it is understandable why people are gun shy.
So Republicans, it’s time to move beyond the election, to accept the results and to treat the President with respect. It doesn’t matter if you think people failed to do this with Bush or if you have major issues with Obama, you have to set these things aside and move forward.
And Democrats, you have a job to do as well. For the last eight years you have talked about how the Republicans abused their position of power. Now you are in control and it is time for you to show the leadership you said was lacking. You cannot spend the next weeks and months ‘getting back’ at the other side. You need to show the same respect you would expect from the other side.