In the course of a week, Pres. Obama has transitioned from calling Donald Trump unfit to serve as president to seemingly one of his biggest advocates. Perhaps that’s a stretch but the contrast is striking.
On Tuesday, Pres. Obama reassured European leaders that President-elect Trump wishes to continue exceptional foreign relations with our Allied nations. He was one of the first Democrats to suggest we give Trump a chance. And, in his own words, he’s excited to help Trump in any way possible during the transition and his first 100 days.
Trump and Obama appear more like old college roommates at a reunion than archenemy politicians. This begs the question: Why?
It’s simple. Obama is desperate to save his legacy. Trump is antithetical to the entire Obama presidency. He is nearly a mandate to reverse the Obama damage. In the days before the election, Obama appealed to his constituents on urban radio, television and other outlets that the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States would be a personal insult to him.
For the first time in his presidency, Obama seems humbled.
Amazingly, the striking defeat of our sitting president has created a circumstance I never expected to see. Obama is ‘reaching across the aisle,’ attempting to work in a patriotic and bipartisan fashion with his political nemesis. However, this is not a selfless act.
I have bad news for Obama. Trump will be submissive (to thwart sabotage) until Friday, January 20, 2017. After that, Obama can say ‘sayonara’ to his key legacy items: ‘Dreamers,’ Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and a host of other destructive liberal programs and executive actions that will likely disappear in the first 100 days.
This president will go down in history as a footnote. His legacy will be noted as being the first African-American president of the United States of America. He’ll be lucky if he’s as well known in 100 years as former president Chester Arthur (except the footnote). You forgot about a president named Arthur didn’t you?
In the first two years of his presidency, by use of unprecedented liberal overreach, Obama spent most of his political capital. He spent the balance it bashing Republicans and conservatives, dismissing their concerns and ignoring our nation’s deeply-rooted challenges in favor of ‘pet- projects’ and agendas.
For many moderates and liberals, in spite of his many failures, he remains likable. In other words, many people like him as a person but find him to be an extremely disappointing president. This explains why his arrogant campaign-appeals to voters regarding his personal legacy were not met with the intended support of Hillary Clinton for president.
For the first time since Obama has been elected, his response to a Republican and President-elect Trump has been appropriate. It has been the missing element from his tenure that would’ve empowered our nation to have a robust economic recovery, less civil-unrest and more prosperity: Cooperation.
We should all take a serious lesson from Obama’s failed leadership. Obama has acted as a manager. Managers give directives to their employees. They expect compliance and performance because of their position, commands and spoken words. Americans are not employees. We are individuals and cannot be managed unless we choose to be.
Elected officials in Washington D.C. also cannot be managed by a president. They must be led, incentivized and coerced into agreement.
At times, as a leader, you must humble yourself in deference to an opposing party in order to find a win-win scenario that works for everyone. In real life, you do not get safe spaces for retreat when circumstances overwhelm you. People do not pander to you because you have a tantrum.
Realizing that his legacy is fading, Obama is desperate to save something – anything. Frankly, I find it disingenuous and disgusting even if appropriate.
It takes astounding efforts to build trust and goodwill with your colleagues, friends and competitors. After nearly eight years in office, this sad president still doesn’t understand leadership. Years of damages cannot be repaired in days or weeks, if ever.
My hope is that Republicans heed this lesson. By controlling the House, Senate and executive branch this is a critical moment. They must solve problems, help people, especially those who are struggling the most. They will have to find some consensus with Democrats on key issues.
While it may be tempting to ramrod every policy for which they’ve ever dreamed, the backlash to Republicans will be even worse than for Obama if they approach their roles as managers and not as leaders (building consensus).
Leaders bring people together by acting with selflessness as opposed to self-aggrandizement. The people voted for change that benefits them and they expect to receive it.