BY FRED BARNES, The Weekly Standard
There’s a lesson from President Obama’s first term that he should have learned long ago. It’s simple: On an issue that affects many millions of Americans, it’s best—even necessary—to have bipartisan support in Congress. Going forward in a purely partisan fashion is bound to cause national discord, increase polarization, and heighten distrust in Washington. Worse still, it means the issue will be controversial for years to come.
The enduring unpopularity of Obamacare—indeed, the Republican commitment to repeal it—is an example of what can happen when bipartisanship is spurned. In this case, Obama and congressional Democrats made no effort to attract Republicans. They declined to compromise, offering Republicans zilch. They were mesmerized by their huge majorities in the Senate and House.
Now they own Obamacare, including all its troubles. Republicans own none. And the health care law lacks full legitimacy. Four years after it was enacted, Democrats are still suffering politically. For them, Obamacare is a drag.
The same is likely to occur with Obama’s executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. It is doubly doomed to be regarded as illegitimate—first, because it stretches presidential authority beyond the breaking point, and second, because it has no bipartisan backing. Obama’s action is supported by many (but not all) Democrats in Congress but zero Republicans.