This week, President Obama outlined his plan for closing Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. You might remember hearing Obama speak on this issue before since it was once one of his main talking points along the campaign trail when he ran for president in 2008. He promised to have it closed within 100 days of his presidency. 7 years later, he’s still pushing for action to be taken with little advancement on that old promise. While this was once a bipartisan issue, Obama’s proposal was immediately rejected today by both Senate leadership and Republican presidential candidates. Where President Obama successfully campaigned on the ideology that extreme interrogation techniques needed to be abandoned like those used in Guantanamo, current candidates are making statements in support of opening up that line of treatment towards suspected terrorists. This reversal of opinion in regards to something as basic as protecting human rights is scary. It indicates a regression in our government. The need to establish opposition to the current president is leading to a deeper divide in our country’s political system than we’ve seen before.
The same day that Republicans rejected proposals on Guantanamo Bay, Senate leadership also issued a statement that they would not hold “hearings, no vote, not even a courtesy meeting” with a new Supreme Court nominee. This is another political issue that is dividing us. Republicans are trying to establish power by holding hostage the democratic system. They say that decisions should be made when a new president takes office. And what if the next president is also a Democrat with similar opinions and views? Will they hold off passing laws and fulfilling their duties for another four years in Congress? Even in an election year, real progress needs to be made. If proposals and even the thought of action from the current president bring congress to a standstill in a display of dominance, our system is failing. Both sides must work together and, frankly, Republican leadership needs to accept that people did choose. They elected President Obama. He should still be respected and allowed to lead.