President Barack Obama left behind talk of healing partisan divisions to begin his second term with an unapologetic defense of the government’s role in promoting “a never-ending journey” toward equality for all, including the poor, women and gays.
Americans have argued over government’s role since the days when politicians wore powdered wigs. Lately this great debate seemed more like a monologue. Conservatives denounce government with zest. But on this most basic of questions, President Barack Obama and the Democrats have been silent.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker sparked a ruckus, of course, by stripping public-sector workers of most collective-bargaining rights. More quietly, and with possibly equal ramifications, Republican lawmakers in Madison and other state capitals are trying to muscle through rules making it harder for millions of citizens to vote.
Glum Democrats should note that President Barack Obama still has ample means to advance a progressive agenda. He can take bold executive actions even when Congress balks. The unpalatable tax deal with Republicans underscores that the White House should find ways to advance goals on its own.
When the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the health-care law last week, everyone knew the tally was only symbolic. But within the next year or so will come a vote that counts -- when the Supreme Court has its say.
The imminent resignation of Nevada Senator John Ensign , who was facing an ethics probe and a strong chance of expulsion, adds to a stampede for the exits. Seven other senators have announced they won’t seek re-election in 2012, and unlike Ensign, none of them are embroiled in a sex scandal.