They imagined Barack Obama a “lame duck”, as they say in Washington, incapable of any major initiative by the end of its term in November 2016. They were wrong. Obama has proven the contrary, three times. And the Republicans show their worst profile: a nihilist party, frozen in an immature filibuster posture.
Mr Obama has full prerogatives of the executive. It goes after what the Constitution allows it to use its regulatory power – all he can do without going through the legislature, since it is mechanically hostile. It’s a fair game. In Beijing, in November, he announced a Sino-US agreement in principle on the fight against global warming. A few weeks later, he regularized the situation of millions of illegal foreign workers. Finally, on Wednesday, December 17, he decided, in agreement with Havana, the resumption of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the beginning of the lifting of the economic embargo against the country, decided on fifty years ago by Washington to undermine the dictatorship of Castro.
Each time, the American public, according to opinion polls, approves the presidential decisions – 60% to 70%. Each time, the Republican Party, like an automaton, disapproves of the President and swears to do everything to prevent it from implementing its policy. On the issue of global warming, it’s no surprise: the Republican Party does not believe that the two largest economies of the world will contribute to anything. Republicans have not yet found a single emission of greenhouse gases that displeases them.
Worked by a strong anti-immigration current, the opinion also seems to discharge Mr Obama for the legalization of millions of illegal, for lack of any other solution on the practice. Finally, according to all polls, Americans also share, and widely, diplomatic empiricism of their president: it is time to lift an embargo and political boycotts that have more strengthened the dictatorship they have shaken.
It is pathetic to see that most of the Republican candidates in the presidential election of 2016, with the notable and interesting exception of Rand Paul, oppose Cuban policy of the White House. On what? The situation of human rights? But Saudi Arabia to China via a nice string of autocracies of Central Asia, the United States maintained the best relations with far more repressive regimes than the Castro brothers.
There is a reason the Republican position: Obama’s detestation. In the aftermath of the November election, a Republican elected observed on the regret mode, that they would turn to “protest party in government.” Obviously, this transition then has taken place for the Republicans of 2014 vintage which are no more able than the previous generation. American democracy is the first victim.