These are complicated times for Barack Obama. The President of the United States has been popular among liberals and moderates and seeks to maintain that popularity. He wants to remain a voice for liberalism. At the same time, there is a tradition of ex-Presidents stepping back and allowing the next in line to do their job without interference.
Despite the partisan differences and the criticisms of his own policies, George W. Bush remained largely silent and ultimately off-the-radar during the Obama Presidency.
It could have been different, however.
The former President could have criticized Obama on his lack of commitment to the war on terrorism. Although the vaguely defined global conflict against a broadly defined threat has lacked success, something many progressives and liberals are aware of, Bush was a big believer in it. With conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq, America under Bush and Cheney was redefined as a greater imperialistic nation.
Though he won a Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama has been no peacemaker. He has had his own conflicts while remaining less stern in his approach. Bush could have taken issue with this.
Social issues are another area that draw a lot of controversy between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives traditionally oppose gay marriage and abortion, whereas liberals support it. Though the President wasn’t the strongest cheerleader of LGBT causes to start, he warmed up to it and advanced it more than the Bush Administration would have.
Where was Bush through these several years?
Instead of laying down criticism and feeding bitter partisanship, the former Texas Governor-turned-President receded back to Texas into silence. Despite all of the conservative uproar about this rising young progressive might do to the country, the leading Republican stepped back.
The liberal reception of President-Elect Donald Trump is similar to the conservative reception of Obama when he was in the same position. The world was about to end, the apocalypse was upon us.
Bush, for all his mistakes and problems, at least respected a tradition of allowing incoming Presidents to breathe. Republicans were sounding the alarm on the apocalypse, but he went away silently.
Will President Obama do the same?
The picture is essentially the same, just partisan roles switched. Liberals are living in fear of a Republican President-Elect because of his rhetoric, his beliefs, and the vision his people carry for America. The world may very well be ending and everything needs to be done to stop it.
It’s in these instances people need a leader. Will Obama be that guy?
It’s a difficult position for the President. Will he choose respect and allow President-Elect Donald Trump to have a chance, just as George W. Bush allowed him to have? Or will we instead see the President cave to his liberal base and become a bully, constantly shouting down the incoming President’s every single move?
Partisanship is arguably growing worse and these days it appears even more so. Will the President do his part to help the atmosphere and let President-Elect Trump breathe? Or will he become another empty partisan warrior making politics worse?