Democrats Need a Marriage Counselor

There is a saying that Republicans fall in line, and Democrats fall in love. Democrats fell hard in love with Senator Barack Obama. For many, like me, it was love at first sight. I was switching channels one day and saw this interesting man on the Oprah Winfrey show, so I stopped to listen and was transfixed. Before the television segment was complete, I was already saying out loud, “This man needs to be Presidentnow.” It was one of those ‘remember where you were when it happened’ experiences.

In Senator Obama I recognized someone who understood complex problems and had common sense solutions. Here was a man who knew how to get things done. Right then I dedicated myself to helping him get elected and marveled at his capability throughout the campaign, was dazzled by the cleverness of his transition (there needs to be a book written just about that time in history) and am in complete awe of his competence as Commander In Chief.

It is my belief that all the work I’ve done to achieve adulthood in this lifetime prepared me for sustaining my love affair with our President. As an adult I have learned to manage expectations by keeping them minimal and based in what’s real and achievable. The idealism of my youth is gone; replaced with clean optimism about what I know Americans are capable of when we step outside ourselves and work as one Nation toward a common purpose. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t needy when I took on the task of volunteering for Barack Obama. Because I wasn’t needy, I didn’t heap any expectations upon this individual. I knew he would get stuff done and that was all I wanted.

In large part, I believe the majority of Democrats have an equally reasoned ‘relationship’ with our President. There might be a disagreement with this or that Cabinet member or policy, but for most support is a constant for his overall style of governing and general demeanor. For the results oriented, like me, his record-to-date is highly gratifying. Sadly there are factions of the Democratic Party and Independent Liberals for whom none of my observations are shared.

Falling in Love

We all experience the act of falling in love in our own individual manner, but there are certain broad similarities that any one of us can experience. Love at first sight, for instance, is an incidence that some are more prone to than others. Some are constitutionally unable to fall in love based on a single encounter. However we fall, whether in an instant or over a period of time, once we’re there we’ve opened the door for what follows. My observation has been that what brings people over the bridge from being in love to a successful relationship is how well-based in reality the individual’s evaluation of their intended partner is from the outset.

Hormones do play a part in blinding us to the faults of our love object, however I’ve found that neediness is the more powerful factor in obscuring or falsifying the true identity of the person with whom we fall in love. It is that neediness that sets us up for massive disappointment and eventual break up of a ‘relationship’. Certain factions of the Left are very, very needy, and that is at the heart of their disillusionment with our President. What do needy people do when they fall in love? They project those needs on the object of that love. At this point it is no longer love, but need that defines their attitudes.

Needy people enter into relationships under false pretenses. Their objective is to make their love object be whatever it is that they need and pay no attention at all to who the person really is. The Bush years made a lot of people very in need of someone to come along make everything all better. Candidate Obama was the perfect screen on which people in need could project their images of how they thought everything should be. How everything should be fixed. The problem with being really needy is that it translates into desperation and disconnects us from reason. Everything must be fixed now to relieve the suffering. And when it isn’t fixed right now, then betrayal sets in. And this failure to instantly relieve the suffering is always perceived as being the fault of the love object, never the fault of the needy person.

There Is Hope

It’s my belief that the majority of the people who projected their needs on Barack Obama and found him lacking are looking for a way to support the President, but they don’t know how to walk back from their stance. The adults among us can act as intermediaries on behalf of the President by listening to the grievances with non-judgmental patience, and then slowly re-introduce people to the man who leads our Country.

We start at the very beginning with his speech in Springfield, IL on that cold day on February 10th 2007 where he announced his candidacy for President of the United States. In that speech he outlined his guiding principles, most of which went unnoticed by those who would become his jilted ‘lovers’ subsequent to his inauguration. Not quite five minutes into his speech, he uttered the very words that told those of us who were truly listening that he is not a hardliner or a purist.

Wait, did he just use the ‘C’ word? Rewind. Replay. Huh.

“It was here we learned to disagree without being disagreeable -- that it's possible to compromise so long as you know those principles that can never be compromised; and that so long as we're willing to listen to each other, we can assume the best in people instead of the worst.”

From the very moment his campaign began, he signaled that he would use compromise as a tool, perhaps the most important tool in his considerable arsenal. And he said he would assume the best in people instead of the worst. Assuming the best in people, by its very nature, means that he will not vilify others, not even his opponents. Barack Obama is not a bully. He said as much at the onset. While he has provided us with certain soul-satisfying occasions where he used his wit and political genius to best his opponents (Paul Ryan and Donald Trump come to mind) and shown that he is willing to be lethal (bin Laden), he does so with quiet rectitude and grace.

We all face disappointment in life and most of us learn to deal with it somehow. I believe that if we acknowledge people’s disappointment in not getting a President who was going to beat up on the bullies, magically reverse the damage of the Bush (and Clinton) years, and undo every injustice simply by being sworn into office, then we can help them begin the healing process. Even a response as basic as: “I get that you’re disappointed, and that’s okay,” will go a long way toward helping someone move away from that uncomfortable place.

Giving people permission to be dissatisfied with their President, extending to them the open forgiveness our President displays toward those who think ill of him is the first step. There is still time to help them transition from anger, betrayal and disappointment to acceptance. Those disillusioned Democrats and Independent Liberals who quickly fell out of love with our President may find that falling back in love will probably never be an option. But learning to accept that our leader is who he said he was, and has been consistent, frank and honest in his dealings with us, they very likely might learn to allow themselves to agree he is the right man for the job.

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