So there it was, in black and white. The Pew Research Center had released the results of its latest political poll, asserting that President Barack Obama has earned the distinction of being the most polarizing president in recent history.
According to the well-recognized research center, “For all of his hopes about bipartisanship, Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades.”
According to the poll conducted by Pew, Obama enjoys a remarkable 88-percent approval rating from Democrats, while only managing a relatively scant 27-percent approval rating from Republicans.
The poll results and the accompanying story have earned a prominent place in the headlines of cable network news shows. The percentages are presented on assorted political websites as some sort of political epiphany. But it seems to me that this breaking news is not only understandable, it is also predictable.
I have often equated the role of the American president to that of a CEO of a major Fortune 500 company.
In 2008, we saw the outgoing CEO of our nation poised to depart after a less-than-profitable, eight-year tenure. The young upstart who was to succeed him captured the position of prominence by promising sweeping change to the way that the nation/company was run.
As with any new leader who promises change and then actually starts to deliver change, there are always factions of the old guard and supporters of the old regime that oppose the new approaches, new agendas and new strategies for improvement.
These are the American Republicans who I am sure realize that we are in the midst of an economic crisis of epic proportion, but somehow feel that deviating from the course of futility forged by the Bush Administration is not a step in the right direction.
A new president, just like a new CEO, attempting to resurrect a country or company from its collective suffering due to its prior and profound lack of fiscal responsibility or economic management is almost compelled to initiate recovery steps that differ from those of the administration which allowed the downturn to occur on their watch.
Those who yearn to venture far from the prior governmental status quo that allowed Wall Street to run wild while Main Street was running out of money have embraced a new national order that unabashedly thrusts government into the role of economic watchdog. These are the 88 percent.
Those who cringe at the prospect of increased taxation of the wealthy to subsidize the economic viability of the nation as a whole, and who shudder at the thought of government having a more decisive hand in monitoring and managing those who monitor and manage our money, are predictably unenthusiastic about the Obama administration. These are the Republicans who dwell in the 27 percent.
Though President Obama took his office with the altruistic and commendable intent of bridging the gap of partisanship, the reality of his position is to get the job done whether the Republicans find him favorable or not.
The worst thing that a leader in Obama’s position can ever do is to govern based on partisan approval ratings. With a vociferous, conservative right faction of Republicans armed with a seemingly infinite supply of “whine” produced by the fermented sour grapes of an election and Oval Office lost, President Obama was destined to early residence in the GOP doghouse.
When the election totals came in that night in November, the American public made it clear: We need to walk another path. The fact that this poll would insinuate that Obama has deviated so far from what the Republicans approve probably is a good indicator that we may be finally moving in the right direction.