What concrete steps should Obama take to win over conservatives

Krep-- the title is missing the word “conservatives”

The President-elect said during the campaign that if elected he wants to reach out to the other party and heal partisan division. Of course, that was also true in 2004, 2000, 1996 … so much for rhetoric.

Assuming that really is a goal, not merely rhetoric: What specific things would you advocate Obama doing to achieve this goal? Remember, these need to be things that will authentically win over some modicum of support from conservatives – let’s not pretend that appointing Chuck Hagel to the cabinet means anything significant.

Conservatives, what moves would convince you of his good faith? Liberal/Progressives, what concessions/compromises would you accept? These must be things that you don’t want, but would be willing to accept in the interests of creating unity. (And I use the plural; it’s going to take more than one token)

In this thread, flickster suggests that publicly killing any talk of bringing back the fairness doctrine would be a good step. I agree, with emphasis on the “publicly” part.

My own guess is that while Obama means what he says, he’s going to find it much harder to do than he might like. He’s going to have political pressure from liberals who are going to want to make the most of their overwhelming advantage. I am skeptical about Obama’s willingness and ability to go against the left – but I sincerely hope I am wrong.

How could he prove me so?

They always say that. Bush said that and crushed all dissent and marginalized all dems. He figured he had no body to answer to and acted like it.
Now Repubs want to know what he will do for them. You dems have to be fair minded and make sure repubs feel like they are part of the governmental process. I have seen 8 years of Bush and Cheney saying “fuck you guys” .Now lets play nice. We must make the conservatives who savaged his campaign with vitriolic attacks and slurs ,happy. Why?

Because if we’re going to be like they were, what the hell’s the point? We’re not enemies. We may disagree in many areas, but we’re not enemies.

Support nuclear power. If Obama is serious about alternative energy and CAGW and so forth, then nuclear power is the most practical solution, and it is one that most Republicans and centrist Democrats can agree on. It would marginalize the extreme greens, but political capital is something that has to be spent to be useful.

Also, appoint Joe Lieberman to his cabinet. Colin Powell should be Secretary of State, but a non-mainstream Democrat would be a good pick for something else.

You don’t. If Obama and the Democrats think they can run things without a filibuster-proof margin in Congress, they are welcome to try. Clinton thought so, too, in 1992.

Tell them. I listened to as much right-wing radio as I could stand this morning.

Rest assured, they consider us their enemies.

I’m not sure if there is much Obama can do to win over conservatives to be honest. Really it’s a matter of which conservatives we are talking about. He is obviously not going to be able to win over most social conservatives, not without compromising too much of his own beliefs. On the economic side I’d say that if he in fact is planning to take a moderate economic stance, as some say, then he’ll go a long way to quelling economic conservative fears…which is a first step to reaching out to them. Appointing a few people regarded as economic conservative (or at least economic moderate) to key advisory positions might help.

Other than that…I don’t think there is anything he can really do to bridge the gap, at least not initially. I think a lot of on the fence type ‘conservatives’ are going to be taking a wait and see approach, and watch what he does in the next 2-3 years (and more importantly, watch what the Dems in the House and Senate do). I think a lot of conservatives are expecting Obama to be a disaster, to try and force a lot of change down the throats of the American people, and that this is going to unleash a backlash against him…and until Obama proves that he isn’t going to do those things I doubt any gesture he makes about reaching out is going to be very effective.
On preview, I agree with Shodan…nuclear power would be a good issue to focus on as it will bring together people from different sides on something they can agree on.


I realize the specific question is for concrete things he can do, but the best I can come up with is: be right. If he does all the things he said he’d do, and they fix, or begin to fix, the problems we’ve got, if he can help to bring peace to the Middle East rather than more violence, if he can keep the price of gas down, and rescue struggling homeowners, that is going to go a long ways towards convincing pretty much everybody.

So all he has to do is bring peace to the Middle East, reduce gas prices even more than they are now, and solve the banking crisis.

I am a conservative, and even I think those are pretty high standards.

Here are some suggestions from an article in Slate on how Obama could make his a different kind of presidency:

  1. Meet with McCain as soon as possible and try to genuinely work with him on the whole economic mess. This gives an olive branch to McCain and let’s him try to recapture his “Maverick” brand.

  2. Appoint Republicans in his administration. Hagel, Lugar and Powell were all mentioned, I’m sure that there are a few others that would have good potential.

  3. Work without pay. He’s not hyper wealthy, but he could afford it. A compromise that I’d see would be to donate his salary to worthy causes of his choosing.

  4. Increase disclosure and transparency. (They want him to reveal all of his donors; I’m not sure that I’m on board with that)

  5. Hold at least one pre-inaugural events outside of Washington, DC.

  6. Meet with a cross-section of religious leaders.

Obviously all of these are not geared towards conservatives, but several are and maybe it could help spur some other ideas.


Things To Do:[ul]
[li]Bring key opposition party members into executive discussion groups[/li][li]Make genuine outreach to conservatives part of the VP’s portfolio[/li][li]Set policy based on principles, implement policy based on practicalities[/li][li]Argue passionately for the partisan position but work relentlessly toward consensus agreements.[/li][/ul]

Things NOT To Do:[ul]
[li]Make appointments or policy based on political alignment[/li][li]Make appointments or policy based on political accomodation[/li][li]Give consideration to extremists[/li][li]Reward recalcitrance or punish dissent[/li][/ul]

I’d love it if there was some atheistic representation in there, but I’m not holding my breath.

[NB: I fixed the thread title.]

Retaining Gates as Secretary of Defense would probably help, and so would continued reliance on Gen. Petraeus. Obama got stronger support from economic conservatives than might’ve been expected a few months ago. I think if he sticks to the ‘Chicago School’ tack and can actually make progress on budgeting and tax-cutting issues (which obviously will take time), he can win a lot of people over. There’s not much he can offer social conservatives beyond support for school vouchers, but that’d be a start.

I think they’re pretty tough, too… but… were he to succeed, would you deem him worthy of re-election in four years?

McCain is quietly going off into the sunset. He is not a factor anymore.
The dems are not so monolithic as the repubs. They have a lot of trouble agreeing within their own party. They are not like the repubs voting in bloc so many times while they were in power. Even the 60 senators would not have made them filibuster proof.
Lieberman campaigned for the repubs and appeared at their convention. He should get nothing and like it.
I still want a reform in campaign financing. Without it ,all talk is background noise. Big money influence has to be diminished. They have pushed laws through that allowed them to loot us. We have to fight back.

I think the OP sets an overly narrow, concessionist parameter to the debate. I mean, why shouldn’t appointing reasonable Republicans like Chuck Hagel to important cabinet positions count here?

But anyway, here’s what would I consider acceptable compromises which might please conservatives and libertarians:

For a start, I reckon completely take gun control off the agenda. It’s a peripheral issue which ranks way, way down on any overall liberal list of priorities, compared to all that needs to be done to fix the current mess. It’s ultimately a needlessly polarising and drives away a full sub-set of single-issue voters. Now, whether or not that would actually buy the Democrats a fair shake by severing the confluence of pro-gun NRA-like groups and Republican Party reactionary politics, I highly doubt it, but it might help some.

Nuclear power - here, Obama’s platform is somewhat there already, so it wouldn’t need too much to nudge it further along.

The Fairness doctrine won’t ever get any traction in this Administration or Congress, so that’s an easy one to rule out. Oh, you’ll get some wistful Daily Kos posts maybe, but it’s not a seriously defensible position in terms of freedom of speech and the underlying rationale of spectrum scarcity. Nobody in the Obama camp believes in it.

Liberals and moderate Democrats will continue to despise the proliferation of AM radio shock-jockism and Fox News as vile hate-bearing pollutants, which are inimical to rational and reality-based political discourse, but we’ve just won a massive victory in spite of all these kind of networks could to do smear Obama. The appeal of the fairness doctrine to some liberals was always this idea of a bygone era where politics still operated under something closer to Queensbury rules of rational political discourse. But I think the Obama campaign basically showed how you can render such polarisation irrelevant if you make your pitch inspiring and inclusive enough, and resist the tendency to pummel the Republican Party’s for its ownership of the failure. People can put two and two together - and it allows self identifying conservatives an out for backing the wrong horse for so long.

Maybe some kind of compromise on pay-as-you-go? Given the financial crisis, I think strict pay-as-you-go would be foolishly limiting on the need for fiscal stimulus and productivity based investment in infrastructure - but I think some kind of fiscal discipline constraints is going to be needed after the last 8 years. Hopefully that might appeal to economic conservatives.

Ugh. That’s NEVER, I repeat NEVER going to happen. That would happen over my dead body. It’s bad enough that Lieberman will not be stripped of his committee privileges because he will still be helpful in the new Senate, he’s not going to be rewarded with a bloody cabinet post.

Speaking as a marxist america hater who wants the terrorists to win, you’re wrong.
Let em cut the hatefulness of their rhetoric, then we can talk. Not before. Anything less smacks of Neville Chamberlain style appeasement.

I think there are several reasons for this. Firstly, see where it got the Republicans? They lasted about six years.

I am a registered Democrat, but I’d really rather be an Independent. But I strongly support Obama. Why is this? Because I believe that Obama is committed to responsible government spending. The rest of my post sort of assumes that he will seek ways to increase spending while increasing efficiency. I think this is probably possible.

If Obama can manage to trim the fat while increasing social programs then he might be able to win a lot of those Republicans on his own right. The idea is to create Obama Republicans rather than triangulate and dilute his intentions. I feel it’d be far wise for him to start off moderate and get more liberal as time goes on. It needs to be a smoother transition unlike with Bill Clinton in 1992. Clinton turned out to be a good President, but in the beginning he seemed very unprepared. People are noting today that he didn’t name anyone for 5 weeks. Obama – always one step ahead – is said to have the most extensive transition already.

But I don’t think that Obama’s intentions are to be very liberal. I don’t see Obama as being a tax and spend liberal. He had to say a lot of things to get elected. I also don’t see McCain as being staunchly pro-life. In reality, I think McCain would have governed very differently than he campaigned. I feel that Obama was a bit more true to his ideals but I don’t see him upholding his pet promises to Iowans etc. So Obama needs to start out with the things that Bush blocked that got the broadest support. Stem cell research is a great example. I could only find a poll from 2001 but it was supported by a 2 to 1 margin.

Obama would be very wise to start out in areas like this. He’s lucky to have such a horrible and out-of-touch administration to contrast himself with because he can look very good by picking the low-lying fruit in the beginning.

So once he does these things, it might be wise to start going for “liberal” ideals.

But it depends quite a bit on how the relationship between himself and the house is. If Obama can get the house to fall in line and let him lead, then I have no doubt that he’ll do very well. Obama’s biggest problem might be an unruly house drunken on what are essentially Obama’s victories.

There’s a lot of hope and expectations are high. It will be far too tempting to overreach. And he could even be successful in overreaching, but it would be a better idea not to do so. That’s how he’ll win conservatives over. Being more fiscally responsible than Bush shouldn’t be all that difficult.

The point is that he can win people over by governing from the “center” because the true “center” of the country supports things like stem-cell research.

Anyway, that’s how I think he can do it. The Republican party has made it far too easy to look good at the job.

Some of the suggestions here are pretty bizarre. It seems some people think anything bipartisan is desirable in and of itself, regardless of how offensive and and unrealistic it is to the basic values of the Democratic Party and the mandate given to Obama by the people of the US. It is not even remotely desirable for Obama to bend over backwards for reactionary wind-bags who don’t actually offer anything constructive.

There are a large bunch of Republicans who’ve not just had disagreements with the Democrats, they’re tried to destroy the party and use all its values as a running pejorative. They don’t deserve accommodation for that.

I agree with some of those others in your list, but I don’t understand this.

If you’re talking simply about trying to get cooperation in the Senate, fine, but if you’re talking about some kind of collaborative effort at the underlying policy I completely disagree.

McCain lost in large part because he is not familiar or comfortable on economic issues. He’s also a bog-standard sloganeering Reagan baby, which is precisely what the voters rejected on Nov 4. Given those two things, McCain simply isn’t suited to leading anything about the economic recovery.

Obama is going to be working with a variety of experts to get the right balance of new oversight, deregulation, and fiscal stimulus recovery in the future. To do that he’s going to be talking to economic giants and public servants who know what they’re talking about: Rubin, Volcker, et al.

Agreed, us “Godless Heathens” need some representin’ as well :slight_smile:

Also, hands off the 2nd amendment, do not draft, propose, or even think of any sort of anti-2A rhetoric