Mark Schmitt: Why 2012 May Mark the End of an Era of Political Anger





Mark Schmitt is a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and former editor of The American Prospect.

...The early second terms of popular presidents are very often cool and productive periods. After Bill Clinton survived an anger wave in his first term, 1997 was a calm year in which legislation such as the State Children's Health Insurance Program was passed, and it also brought a surprising turn toward greater public trust in government. The same could be said of the two years after Ronald Reagan's reelection, which included enactment of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. George W. Bush, who gave up on his major second-term initiative, Social Security privatization, within a few months, is the notable exception to this rule....

The best counter-example to such a return to the mean would be FDR’s second campaign, exemplified by the “I welcome their hatred” speech at Madison Square Garden, which fully captured the tone of an angry, still-suffering nation in an ever more direct way than he had in 1932. Roosevelt went on, in his second term, to govern even more ambitiously and aggressively than in the Hundred Days, including waging war on uncooperative members of his own party. This, of course, is the model that many liberals would encourage on Obama....



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