As 2012 comes to a close, there is much to worry the average American conservative, and it would be easy to dwell on the negative. And granted, thanks to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and the election results, the incredibly wasteful and innovation-squelching Obamacare will soon be fully implemented. Medical care in the United States will no longer be the best in the world, and it will soon begin to resemble the substandard medical care found in Canada or England.
Other government freebies that were so freely thrown-about in President Obama’s first-term will now be frozen in place, if not expanded. Countries that neighbor the bullies in Russia will soon find out the details of the flexibility that President Obama pledged to Prime Minister Medvedev in front of an open microphone a little over a year ago. And even those countries can console themselves that they are not Israel, surrounded by countries pledged to destroy it, including Iran, which cannot wait to develop a nuclear weapon and send it straight to Jerusalem as soon as possible.
But as Johnny Cash sang in one of my favorite songs, “there is a silver lining behind every cloud,” and I have noticed a few silver linings in the American political scene. So here they are, in no particular order:
First, President Obama, recently re-elected, is even more of a lame-duck than other re-elected presidents. During the recently-concluded presidential election campaign, President Obama was entirely lacking in any second-term agenda. His answer to the main issues for the voters, the economy and jobs, could be summed up with a quick one-liner: “it is all Bush’s fault, and without me it could have been worse.”
History has shown that lame-duck presidents have a hard enough time enacting any new legislation at all, but when, as with Obama, he campaigned on no new agenda, he is even more of a lame-duck president than others. In fact, because of his agenda-less campaign, President Obama was a lame-duck president before he even got re-elected.
That means that President Obama has no mandate to promote or pass anything new. After concluding the “fiscal cliff” matters and raising of the debt ceiling, both of which are left over from his first term, the second Obama term will revert to a caretaker presidency.
Things can always change, like if there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court, or if there is a world war involving the United States. But absent those possibilities, President Obama’s days of greatly influencing the future of this country are behind us.
Even President Obama’s re-election rhetoric was misleadingly moderate. While his instincts are liberal, he dare not admit it. Who could forget President Obama’s comment in one of the debates where he lauded the self-reliance of Americans? That one made me cough up part of my Diet Coke.
But the point is that for those conservatives who lament that we have just re-elected the most liberal president in history, so we therefore must now be a liberal country, we have the consolation of knowing that President Obama was re-elected using moderate, not liberal, rhetoric.
And speaking of the fiscal cliff negotiations, if the total expiration of the Bush tax cuts is what ultimately happens, we have the silver lining of knowing that some lower-income people will now have to pay taxes again. This will end a major problem I had with the Bush tax cuts when they were originally enacted: a whole swath of lower-income people were totally kicked off the tax rolls. Their tax rates were effectively cut 100%. And from that point on, that group of lower-income people had no problem in voting for more government benefits – after all, someone else would be paying for it. Now, with this part of the Bush tax cuts repealed, that group of people has some “skin in the game.” This deficit is now their problem too.
Another silver lining is the great energy boom that our country is now experiencing, and the government’s inability to stop it. Thanks to the hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” method of getting oil and natural gas out of the ground, whole areas of the country are boom-towns. Parts of south Texas, western Pennsylvania, the entire state of North Dakota and a few other areas of the country that have engaged in fracking have almost non-existent unemployment.
So far, the Environmental Protection Agency has been the government’s weapon of choice against the fracking industry. But just a few days ago, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson resigned after being discovered that she had a secret e-mail account, so as not to reveal her e-mail communications. The leader-less EPA will buy some more time for the fracking industry to maintain its growth.
When President Obama appoints a replacement EPA Administrator, the appointee will need to be approved by the US Senate, which now includes my final silver lining, Texas Senator-elect Ted Cruz. Cruz earned his conservative credentials as Solicitor General of Texas, where he won some monumental Supreme Court cases, like the 2008 decision District of Columbia vs. Heller. Heller held that the 2nd Amendment defines individual rights to gun ownership, not some “collective right” for a state-run militia, so a constitutional amendment will now be needed if the government tries to outlaw guns.
Texas Senator-elect Ted Cruz is smart and aggressive, and he is young, so he will probably be in the US Senate for at least 30 years, making the conservative case to the country on all issues high and low. Barack Obama may have won the election to be our president for another four years, but Ted Cruz won the election to be the next senator from Texas, and this is quite a consolation.
Yes, it will be a long four years for the United States, but there are a number of good things, or silver linings, behind the clouds overhead. Things aren’t all that bad.
This column was originally published in Caffeinated Thoughts