Just got this e-mail a little while ago from a reader (I guess it was a reader, anyway):
Thirty years later, Americans' have decided that we need government, government to stop us from dying from eating peanut butter, government to stop bankers from stealing from us, and government to provide jobs until the economy picks up. That's Obama's mandate, and to do anything else would be to back off from his promises. McCain is wrong. He and his party lost. Obama wants to be nice and extend an olive branch to the losers, but it is not necessary that he does so. What's necessary is he goes forward with his plans.
To which I felt compelled to answer as follows (slightly edited, as I read back over it):
Interesting you should mention 1981. I'm still ticked off that Democrats back then took just the attitude that you're calling for. Tip O'Neill and the rest said, well, Reagan won the election, so let's give him anything that he wants. This, after four years of that same Democratic Congress not giving Jimmy Carter ANYthing he wanted.
I'm still mad about it. I'm still mad about how the whole world just rolled over for Reagan. Much of the media was full of that "Morning in America" hoopla, and I felt like …. well, have you ever been the only person in the room who was not drunk or stoned, and everybody around you thought everything was just SO funny, and you just thought they were all very irritating? Not much fun, huh? Well, that was me in the Reagan era.
I don't feel that way this time. I sort of thought Reagan's win in 1980 was the end of the world — not because I was anti-Republican, but because I had liked Jimmy Carter so much (I don't like him as much as I did then, but I really liked him then). I don't feel that way at all about Obama. Out of all the people running for president last year, McCain and Obama were my first and second choices. So while I'm sorry McCain didn't win, I'm glad Obama didn't lose. I'm highly ambivalent on that score.
But one reason I DO like Obama so much — and liked him so much more than Hillary — is that he IS about post-partisanship. (That's one of the main things I liked about McCain, too.) He's nothing like Reagan; he's far less the ideological warrior. And if he doesn't work with McCain (something which, to his credit, he's already demonstrated a willingness to do), then he's not the guy that a LOT of people voted for. I would expect exactly the same from McCain — a willingness to work across the aisle — had he been elected.
And I have little patience for Democrats who act the way the Reaganites did in the early 80s — We won, so we'll do what we damn' well please. Unfortunately, I do hear that from some. Like "Morning in America" revisited. And I didn't like that triumphalist bull the first time, not one bit.
And if you don't care about bipartisanship, think about this: There's a good chance this stimulus will fail. There's a good chance ANY stimulus would fail. So how would you feel about it if, once the stimulus fails, the GOP recaptures Congress, and then goes around telling Obama and the world that "We won, so we don't have to listen to you?"
Far better that we have a stimulus plan that both parties buy into. It's a little late for that, but it WOULD have been far better. It's never good to have one of the two major parties politically invested in the nation failing…
(I'll add one more thought: I would not say that Obama "must" work with McCain et al. I'm just saying that to the extent that he can, he should. This is not to say that if you've tried to bring the GOP along and they've just refused and you truly believe your plan is the right one, you don't go ahead — just as I thought it was right for us to go ahead into Iraq without France, Germany and Russia on board. But I am saying that if you can possibly swing it, bipartisan is WAY better for the country.)