The Billion Dollar Question: What Will Obama’s 2nd Term Look Like?


With President Obama's second term now secure, many wonder whether the commander-in-chief will continue playing the middle or whether he'll become a true progressive. Kerry Eleveld at The Atlantic is leaning toward the latter:

A more likely explanation is that Obama was still finding his groove,
figuring out which levers worked best for him in the context of
governing the nation. And in some ways, he was still developing the
courage of his convictions.

Obama now knows how and when to pull the levers of Washington to his
advantage. Meanwhile, his White House and the products it produces have
become a truer reflection of its leader. The issues that his more
centrist advisers viewed as toxic — same-sex marriage, immigration
reform, and reproductive rights — became the centerpiece of his
reelection bid and paid off big.

Heading into his second term, Obama will have the experience, the
counsel, and the conviction to more fully deliver progressive change,
thanks to his embrace of insiders and outsiders alike.

Do you agree?


  1. says

    The first term is always about winning the second term in which the president can truly reveal himself and his agenda.

  2. UFFDA says

    “Progressive” will backfire if it is not done with great restraint and wisdom. Gradual is the word and how the work is done. I think he knows that, but maybe not.

  3. Randy says

    Like Clinton, Obama is not a progressive.
    Like Clinton, the second term will not be much different from the first.

  4. Gregoire says

    I think gay issues will fare even better. DOMA is gone.

    At this point, I’m more worried about climate change and whether ANYBODY in Washington is going to do something.

  5. Marty says

    Randy is right. Obama is a centrist. He might make a few somewhat progressive moves like the Dream act happen, but congressional Republicans will continue to stymie him. I’m certainly glad it’s not Romney, but look for more of the same from Washington. No sudden Wall Street sanity. Continued Republican obstructionism. We will split the difference between deficit reduction and needed economic stimulus. The honeymoon on this will be short, unless the Republicans eat themselves. I really hope they do, but still doubt it.

  6. Eric says

    “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”

    He’s Republican-lite, and always has been. Jeez, he’s even doing things now in the name of fighting terrorism that even Bush didn’t dare try.

  7. Rick says

    Day 1 has to be about Immigration Reform. Period. Latinos patiently waited out the first term, and came out in droves this Tuesday in order to give Obama a second chance. Now it’s time to get it down. And if the House Republicans can see the writing on the wall, they will work with Obama and the Democratic Senate to get this done. Stalling or obstructing this issue is a losing position long term — and probably even short term.

  8. Gary says

    It will be the first debate, stretched over four years. The county is headed for bad economy and increased violence, Watch.

  9. Chitown kev says

    I will say that it depends on whatever scandal comes the President’s way and how he handles it. (and let’s face it…second terms usually have HUGE scandals).

  10. Anthony says

    My vote for Obama was really a vote against Mitt Romney. I think a second term for the President, with the pressure of pleasing a progressive base for re-election lifted, means he’ll tact much more moderate socially. He’ll address the economy, and he’ll make sure Wall Street is taken care on along the way. I’ll find it shocking if he does anything for gay rights.

  11. Nat says

    “Like Clinton, Obama is not a progressive.
    Like Clinton, the second term will not be much different from the first.”

    Clinton’s second term was consumed by the Lewinsky scandal, but it was still a relatively productive period. There may be more space for Obama to make changes on issues of moderate importance.

    However, your first point is correct. Obama is not – nor has he ever been – a progressive. He is a community organizer, but a pragmatic one who favours institutional structures over movements. I have no doubt he will be of help to the gay community, but progressives should not expect much. In fact, I would question a progressive’s grip on reality if they expected a progressive vision at an executive level in a country that remains fundamentally center-right. It’s not going to happen.

  12. anon says

    Obama already said that he wasn’t going to touch gay marriage in his second term. His “evolution” was at gunpoint when gay Hollywood pressed the issue by threatening to withhold contributions.

  13. ratbastard says

    Obama is pragmatic, he’s not an ideolog. No one gets to his position being a hardcore ideolog. Most of them are simply highly driven narcissists. Like all politicians he makes many promises during campaigns, and talks mostly in vague platitudes. And he now may ‘owe’ hardcore true faithful like many homosexuals, black folks, etc., but he can ignore them at well now that he’s won his final election and no longer must rely on them. Sorry to be so cynical, but it’s the truth. The only group that can expect to see some serious tangible things are ‘Hispanics’ because both the main political parties are now obsessed with them because of demographic trends. Of all the main ‘minority’ groups Obama and the Democratic party uses [yes, uses] the only ones that really matter are Hispanic, Asian [to a lesser extent], and women [specifically white middle class women]. But, women of course aren’t a minority. The Democrats use blacks because they know overwhelmingly number of blacks will always vote Democrat regardless, so there’s no need to cater to them, they have no where else to go. Plus, their numbers are stagnant, and ‘Hispanics’ are fast eclipsing them as the premier ‘Minority’ group, to the point Democrats and Republicans fight over them. Gays? Gays are very small in numbers and hardly matter in that sense. I guess we’re good for fund-raising,though.

  14. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says

    Let’s see;

    Reelected for 2nd-Term; Check.

    Don’t need that Hispanic-vote anymore; Check.
    Don’t need the Gay ATM anymore: Check.
    No need then for making noises hinting at immigration reform, passing ENDA or eliminating DOMA, nor any further “evolution” on SSM; Dbl-Check.

    Full-speed-ahead on wealth-redistribution and confiscation of private property…

  15. Icebloo says

    We NEED Hillary Clinton in a MAJOR role. She has delivered in EVERY role she has been given. Maybe we can put her in an education role – the US has so much work to do in the area of education.

  16. Icebloo says

    He has already said he won’t force gay marriage onto the states but I do believe he will put Federal laws in place for equality if the right wing corrupt Supreme Court abolished DOMA.

    There WILL be equality on a Federal level for all married gay people IF DOMA is gone. SO this means we need to PUSH the Supreme Court to abolish DOMA and we need more fights within the states to get more state level gay marriage. We have only four years to do this because odds are the evilness will be back in the Whitehouse next time.

  17. Derrick from Philly says

    “We NEED Hillary Clinton in a MAJOR role.”

    And you’ll have her when she and Julian Castro win the White House in 2016.

    …saw Castro on one the morining talk shows. He’ll have the most beautiful smile we’ve ever seen on a vice president.

  18. gayalltheway says

    This is a government that belongs to the people. President Obama’s presidency is shaped by all of those who voted for him. Like he said, the political process is never-ending and those who voted for him now need to organize and put pressure on their House Reps and Senators to support the President’s plans. This is not a dictatorship and it’s unfair for us to criticize the President for not being able to deliver on promises when all we do is vote and then sit and watch on the sideline.

    I think with the pressure of re-election lifted, the President will be more aggressive in tackling the gridlock problem in Congress and get things done. Hopefully we will also be able to reap the benefits of his policies in the first term soon and that would increase the public opinion and favorability, which he could use to pressure the Republican-controlled House to compromise.

    I hope that the President will address the economy first especially banking reform and reducing the deficit and then move on to immigration reform before the mid-term election in 2014 so that the Democrats might be able to win back some seats in the House .In terms of gay rights, his public support of same-sex marriage is the best thing that he could’ve done for us. There’s nothing else in terms of same-sex marriage that he can do. When DOMA is struck down next year, you can actually say that same-sex marriage is legal in the US. Yes, there are still 30 some states with constitutional amendment banning it but they will have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states when we challenge Section 2 of DOMA under the basis of the Full Faith and Credit clause. It’s hard to deny that the victory in the 4 states recently is somewhat attributed to the fact that the leader of the country and his party is in support of it. The most important thing that he needs to accomplish is to appoint at least 2 liberal or left-leaning moderate Justices to the SCOTUS.

    Again, 4 years is not an incredibly long time – so to expect anything more might just be wishful thinking especially with the political climate at the moment.

  19. andrew says

    I voted for Obama and think that he is exactly what the country needs now. A liberal republican. All the talk of Obama’s socialism is just so much bull. He is, by instinct, a centrist. In this DIVERSE nation of 314 million people, a centrist is just what the doctor ordered.

  20. andrew says

    Nominating Supreme Court Justices is probably the single most important thing that a president does. Mr Obama will probably appoinnt centrist or SLIGHTLY left of center Justices. Romney, in order to please his fundamentalist base, would have appointed far right Justices to the court. That alone is reason enough to applaud Mr Obama’s victory.

  21. NealB says

    If Obama just follows through on what he’s committed during his first term, he’ll do well for all Americans. First baby steps toward universal health care. Allowing Bush tax cuts to expire. Promoting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Ending opportunistic adventurism in foreign affairs.

    If he’s further engaged to improve education and end the war on women, that’ll be good.

    I look at his prospects and see he’s going to get many chances to advance liberal causes. So far, he’s shown that when those doors open, he goes through them; they seem reasonable to him and he goes through. That’s not going to change. LBJ he’s not; fortunately, it’s not the mid-1960s anymore. The way is wide open for liberal advances over the next fifty years. It’s the path of least resistance for the foreseeable future, exactly the kind of path Obama likes.