Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Dear President Obama, stoop to conquer

It is no exaggeration that US presidential elections are followed around the world.  Ramesh, who has guest-posted here before, follows it quite seriously--perhaps even more than the average American voter.  The presidential debates begin tomorrow; Ramesh looks beyond that and writes:
Dear Mr. President:

Congratulations on your victory in the election. I know that the election is a few weeks away and much noise will be made before then, but it looks like this is yours to lose, and lose you will not. So, congratulations.

Instead of prepping like mad for the inconsequential debates, which frankly, is irrelevant in the larger scheme of things, you might want to give some thought as to how you will govern for the next four years. After all you don’t just want to be President. You want to go down in history as an achieving President. You want to be fondly remembered in the future.

So, consider this: Immediately after winning the election, reach out, and I mean really reach out, to the Republicans.

When they lose the elections, the Republicans will be even more hopping mad at you. Congress is likely to remain in Republican hands and they may be as obstructionist to everything you say as they have been thus far. Do you really want to fight a Sisyphean battle for four years, and be a lame duck who will be noted in history as one of the most polarising of Presidents ?

Not every Republican is a nut. Appoint one of them as your Treasury Secretary to replace the outgoing Tim Geithner. Have more Republicans in your team. Adopt some of their policies, especially in the field of economics. Cut taxes, if necessary on the nameplate, but remove exemptions to make it revenue neutral. Disregard the idea of raising taxes for the rich. Adopt some of the spending cuts that they have proposed. Maybe accept Marco Rubio’s plan on immigration reform. Accept a few of their ideas, even if you don’t personally agree with them.

The act of stopping the bitter division in the nation is almost worth any price.

You see, once you start to really reach out to them after your re‐election, you’ll cause cracks in their undying hatred of you. The nutters will start to get isolated and the pragmatists will start to come to the fore. In the language of your favorite sport, basketball, the pragmatic Republicans need an assist from you; so, stop attacking them relentlessly, even if the nutters do exactly this to you. You have to help the saner elements in the Republican Party to win. Make them win. Win a few of your own. Build the bridges, brick by brick.

It is hard. But you have to do it. If not you, no one else will. Otherwise, America, and the rest of the world, will be ill served by four years of obstructionism, hate and paralysis. It doesn’t matter who is causing this. It has to be overcome. If anybody can, it is only you.

To quote Oliver Goldsmith, stoop to conquer.

Wouldn’t it be great to see an America where people will have differences, but can discuss it rationally, and move the great country forward;
Where truly, winning the battle (the elections) is not important, but winning the war (peace and prosperity) is;
Where the extremists, in the Republican Party, and in your own, are perfectly entitled to air their views, but are ignored by the mainstream;
Where at the end of four years, irrespective of what others say, you can answer to yourself, that you did a great job;

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, decades from now, people could remember you as a great President who gave everything he got?

I wish you well and much success.

Yours sincerely,

A non‐citizen, but an ardent admirer of your country.


gils said...

obamavukkay letter vidum thunichal konda oray thalaivar..engal blogville singam..sokka thangam..master poster..thalai ramesh vaazhga

Ramesh said...

@Gilsu - Ha Ha ha - your "slogan making capability" is truly wonderful :)

Asha said...

Decades from now, how obama will be remembered only you can assess, Ramesh. But i can assess one thing for sure. decades from now...no...no... 2or 3 years from now( or may be much earlier) Ramesh of Business musings will be marked as a writer of international calibre. Voted as one of the most powerful and influential writers in magazines like Time.

@ Gils- namba ippovay thalaikitta autograph vangidalama?

Anonymous said...

Enakku idallam patthi teriyaadu, kozhappamaana vishaiyangal.. Aanalum neenga azhaga ezhudi irukkeenga...aaman, obamavukku paattu teriyumo? Clinton padi kettadu undu..ivaraipatthi teriyadu. Pesum kural nalla irukke? Pattu katthukalame? Politician-aga vandale jalra poda teriyanum, taala gnanam irrukkum..

Hopfrog said...

Always love Ramesh's insights and suspect he might be secretly living somewhere here in the states as he seems to have a better pulse on what is taking place here than most of my fellow Americans. I am a bit conflicted as I read this. Agreed so much with what is said about seeing through the nutty barrier that the Republican party has embraced and taking a look at some needed fiscal prudence. There are a lot of proposals being ignored in the name of politics that just make sound fiscal sense. Spending has been a big part of our problem and the Democrats are only making token gestures in spending cuts in what appears to be an attempt to paint themselves as the party of compromise. But at least the Democrats are bending, the Republicans for their part seem to have embraced non-compromise, and a Democracy only works if there is compromise.

I don't feel it's fair to ask the President to give up his revenue generating tax proposals that were the historical standard in this country, but expect him to embrace the Republican proposals. That is not compromise. While I agree wholeheartedly with the meat of Ramesh's case here, that there are some sound fiscal policies beneath the crazy veneer of the Republican party, I think the polarization has mainly come from a Republican party which is so uncompromising that it actually signs pledges stating.... I will NOT compromise.


gils said...

@sujamusic: obama paata!!aaha..vitta Obama va satyabama aakiduvel polarukkay :D:D

Deepa said...

Its you and only you who could write this Ramesh! I am sure you are following the election fever and right now the bigger picture is buried under a lot of election time slandering. Anyways whats heartening is that one can at least put an idea like this forward to a President of this country. In our country, who would you address and say what?!

Ramesh said...

@Asha - Awwww. No such ambitions and no such possibility anyway. I am more than thrilled if the readers of my posts find it interesting

@Hopfrog - Understand completely some basic no nos that you cannot give up. Agree that keeping the tax levels at historic averages is probably one of them. Grover Norquist and his like are nuts in my book. One of the greatest disservice activists have done is to bring down the debate to single issues. However noble that issue might be, life is infinitely more nuanced than to reduce it all to a Yes / No question.

@Suja - Brilliant. For those who don't understand Tamil, Suja who is an eminent music blogger speculates about the musical talents of Obama in a wonderful style. I think the only musical talent that politicians as a group can have is "jalra" I would speculate !! I can't think of a single Indian politician who has something remotely resembling musical talent !!

@Deepa - Thats so true -there is nobody in India to whom one can write even such a letter. Although to be fair, the press has done something similar to Manmohan Singh asking him to find his mojo, quite a few times in the past. The place where you cannot simply imagine such a letter is China - a real tragedy as probably nowhere is common sense from common people more required than there

sriram khe said...

When Ramesh guest-posts here, I feel like I am a party host, who has invited to his home a whole bunch of smart and good looking people, and then towards the end feeling a tad sad that eventually everybody will leave ...

I am glad that Ramesh succumbs to my baits and nagging and writes here on topics that he might otherwise not blog about in his regular space ...

As a host, I thought it might be appropriate for guests to comment for a while before I jumped into the conversation .... but, it also means that you folks have also already articulated most of the points that I might have expressed ... but, hey, it is not that I was late to the party :)

I didn't bother to watch the debates last night. It is all theatre--I mean, how unknown is Obama after all these years of continuous exposure of his views, and how unknown is Romney too?

It is awesome, impressive, though that the American system has such a feature, which, as you folks point out, isn't there in China or India or ...

Enjoyed the post and the comments and hosting the party. I am already looking forward to the next one.

Hopfrog said...

Ramesh brought me here, but your writing and presentation has kept me here. Really enjoyed some of your views on what has/hasn't been accomplished in Afghanistan and loved the piece on Ghandi. One of my favorite scenes from the movie and so grateful that a movie about one of the finest humans to walk the earth got it right, imo, and didn't blow it.

I love your style in mixing humor with commentary, linking the perfect comic/video clip for the topic. There is just so much content on the net these days that it's hard to always dive into conversation and comment without looking up and realizing half your day is gone, but I will keep reading your excellent blog!

sriram khe said...

Thanks for the appreciative comments, @Hopfrog.

Looking forward to a lot more interactions.

J said...

On the issue of compromise, when Romney talked last night about working together with Democrats in Massachusetts, I kept thinking that's a statement not about him but more about the Democrats' willingness to find a common ground to do their job. How can the notion of bipartisanship work if the Republicans are so worried about the skewed primary battles that they have to win. It takes two to compromise and I see what you're saying but I just don't trust the current Republicans in office - you give them an inch and they'll want a mile.

On the debate yesterday, it was just a lost opportunity. We got to see Romney version N.0 and the president wasn't willing to call him out on that. I like the fact that Obama doesn't play dirty but he could have said something at least once or twice strongly. Actually he did have some good lines but somehow they didn't sound effective. I hope that the voters in the swing state are as smart as Obama seems to think they are and can recognize lies when they hear them.

Ramesh said...

@J - My read is that the violent Republican lurch to the right, and hence the risk of defeats in primaries for Republicans willing to compromise is a temporary phenomenon. America is not like that - it is in principle an inclusive society willing to embrace all sorts of migrants. It is far better as a society to embrace new things than almost any society on earth. This temporary blip should not sway sensible Republicans and Democrats from doing the right thing they believe.Despite all the venom from the nutters, if Romney actually gets elected, I believe he would govern sensibly and not do crazy stuff.

@Sriram - I totally echo Hopfrog's views.

Sandhya Sriram said...


From Chinese Politics to American Presidential elections, you are truly Amazing. You are my nomination for the Global Indian of the Year Award.

Wow, what a sensible recommendation. the only part is that in an open country like the US of A, it is also realistic to expect that someone could actually think this way. No way, east side.

sriram khe said...

"Foreign Policy" has an interesting thought experiment of sorts, to highlight the stark contrast between how the US and China (s)elect their respective political leaders: http://goo.gl/xza8W
"It needs a leader who doesn't apologize for China." hehe ;)

Most read this past month