Sometimes it is relevant to take a look at history. After all, it has been said that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. This election cycle could potentially put President Obama in an elite club, that of the two-term presidents. Since that is the case, a quick look at what earned other presidents this elite status is warranted, starting with the most recent.
George W. Bush
In 2004, his reelection centered exclusively on the War on Terror. The option was, do you elect John Kerry, who fudged his Vietnam record, or stick with someone who had stood bold on foreign policy, establishing the Bush Doctrine? The economy was strong, and Bush carried the “drink a beer with” likeability. Based on a successful, by most accounts, first term, Bush increased his margin of victory over the 2000 election.
In 1996, Clinton ran on an improved economy, improved budgets, and governmental reform. After his first two years, the Republican Revolution led to major changes after 1994. Clinton went along with fiscal policies, including a balanced budget, and welfare reform. Once again, the economy was thriving, led by the dot-com boom, and the country seemed in good shape. Clinton won a large victory over Bob Dole.
After beginning his first term with a recession, Reagan implemented lower taxation with policies by Art Laffer. The economy took off, and was extremely strong by 1984. This was also amidst the Cold War, and Mondale took a liberal approach in contrast to Reagan’s strong Neo-Conservative defense strategy. Running on a successful first term, Reagan won 49 of 50 states, the largest electoral victory in presidential history.
After addressing the most recent two-term presidents, one thing stands out. This is simply that the president had a successful first term. All three of the above-mentioned presidents began their terms with recessions, and were able to recover the economy by their reelection. Clinton, initially increasing taxes, corrected course in 1994 after the people spoke.
It is important to compare these examples with that of President Obama’s reelection. Like those above, he inherited a recession. Like Clinton, his policies were rebutted by the American people in the midterm elections. However unlike Clinton, he did not work with the new Republican majority and change his initial policies.
Also, unlike the above-mentioned presidents, he does not have a successful first term to run on. By his own words, President Obama has admitted he needs four more years to do what he promised in 2008. These shortcomings set him apart from those who have won a successful reelection.
One last question does linger in this election cycle, who continues to support the incumbent President? By all accounts, he has failed both parties. Those who voted in 2008 for hope and change received more corruption and status quo in D.C. Lobbyists and special interests are as prevalent as ever. Those on the far left have a war that hasn’t ended and a base at Guantanamo that still hasn’t closed. The economy is worse than four years ago, and most all 2008 campaign promises are broken.
When November arrives, the American people will make their decision on this president. However, when compared to other two-term presidents, it seems he falls extremely short of making the grade. Perhaps his record should be more objectively analyzed. Instead of left versus right, or Republican versus Democrat, a simple question should be asked: Has this person warranted another four years at the helm?