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Republicans need to quit complaining and start cooperating with Obama

Tonight, the president of the United States of America and the leader of the party that won the election in 2012 set forward a strong plan not only for the next four years but the next four decades of American prosperity and promise.  

It is a plan that knows we must build our economy from the middle class out and not just from the top-down.  

It is a plan that believes American workers can get the skills they need for the 21st century and American companies can compete in the global marketplace.  

It is a plan that knows helping our students and seniors and creating jobs for everyone else in between is far more urgent now than more cuts to spending.  

It is a plan that falls squarely within the lessons of American history and the traditions of our founding values.  And it is a plan that will work — and a plan that the American people support!

Nine in 10 Americans — and eight in 10 Republicans and independents — agree that we need to create a road to citizenship for the hardworking, aspiring Americans who are so vital to our economy and our communities.  Over 85% of voters believe we need to strengthen the manufacturing industry in America.  Three-quarters of voters support improving our roads and schools and creating jobs through public infrastructure investments.  A wide majority of gun owners — and NRA members! — support common sense gun violence prevention measures like fixing the background check system and closing gun show loopholes.  A majority of Americans say our nation must do more to address climate change and invest in pioneering green energy.   And most Americans believe that inequality in America is a major problem and that our economy unfairly favors the rich. 

In some cases by more than a three-to-one margin, voters say that the most important issue facing the country right now is jobs — not the deficit. 

A strong majority of Americans oppose cuts to Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security benefits. If something has to be cut, voters favor cuts to military spending.

In other words, every single idea and initiative that President Obama outlined in his State of the Union Address will not only strengthen our economic standing as a nation but also falls squarely within the values and priorities of the majority of American voters.  Those trying to argue otherwise are obviously intoxicated by the recycled air of their own ideological bubble.  A bubble that, by any realistic measure of popular opinion or electoral power, is clearly shrinking.

 

Obviously in crafting his Republican response, Senator Marco Rubio was keenly aware of his party’s dwindling oxygen.  Rubio struggled to re-cast himself and his fellow conservatives as the defenders of working people and immigrants.  But while Rubio repeatedly suggested Republicans agree with President Obama’s assessment of the problems we face as a nation, he repeatedly made clear Republicans remain opposed to any reasonable solutions.  Meanwhile polls continue to show that the majority of Americans still believe the Republican Party is too invested in protecting the interests of the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.  One speech can’t change that.  Even in Spanish. 

The Republican Party should be less worried about its image and more worried about its substance.  No party that dismantles the American Jobs Act, blocks the Violence Against Women Act and defeats the DREAM Act can expect to win the hearts and minds of mainstream America, let alone a governing majority.  

For crying out loud, Republicans in the chamber couldn’t even manage to stand up and applaud for protecting voting rights and helping kids go to pre-school.  Instead of continuing to oppose everything Democrats stand for, Republicans should explain to the American people why the only thing Republicans seem to consistently stand for --- more tax cuts for the rich --- didn’t create jobs and ward off our financial crisis when those cuts were in place.

Of course the irony in all this is had Republicans eked out a presidential victory with even a fraction of the margin President Obama enjoyed, they would be slashing our social safety net and public workforce even more than they already have and claiming a broad and mainstream mandate to do so despite opposing public opinion on such proposals.  

So the fact that President Obama handily won re-election and continues to advance his inherently moderate and common sense plan for the nation — a plan that enjoys broad public support — makes it all the more bizarre that Republicans continue to flaps their arms and gums about President Obama’s supposed extremism.  It’s evidence of either a deep and unyielding disdain for Obama or a fundamental failure to grasp reality.  Or maybe both.

In every sense imaginable, America is moving forward.  Our economy is recovering and changing to better compete in the world.  And our demographics are evolving to better reflect the world.  Our politics must keep up.  

President Obama articulated a powerful and practical plan, many parts of which any sensible Republican not stuck on the auto-pilot obstructionism of the last four years would be highly inclined to support.  The American people chose their path and President Obama is leading us forward.  Republicans would be wise to stop with the blanket criticisms and start finding a way to cooperate.

Sally Kohn joined the Fox News Channel in 2012 as a contributor.

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