We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The solution the country ultimately settled on had five important features: checks and balances so that the branches would police one another; a large republic so that majority sentiment was fleeting and not intensely felt; a Senate where the states would be equal; enumerated congressional powers to limit the scope of governmental authority; and the Bill of Rights to offer extra protection against the government.
The end result was a government that is powerful, but not infinitely so. Additionally, it is schizophrenic. It can do great things when it is of a single mind - but quite often it is not of one mind. So, to govern, our leaders need to build a broad consensus. When there is no such consensus, the most likely outcome is that the government will do nothing.
The President's two major initiatives - cap-and-trade and health care - have failed because there was not a broad consensus to enact them. Our system is heavily biased against such proposals. That's a good thing.
Yes, it is a good thing. And, in general, government doing nothing is a good thing.
"and generally government doing nothing is a good thing..." From your mouth to God's ear, Barrister. That's why Texas only allows its Legislature to meet every other year. Keeps down the generalized chicanery that results when legislatures are in session. The other wise thing that Texas does is to have no state income tax. Folks all over America, but especially in crazy California, are waking up to the beauty of this element of Texas living.
"The President should have recognized this, and governed with a view to building a broad coalition. But he has not. "
That's assuming the President ever had an ambition for a broad coalition versus a narrow left focus. The questions for the historians reviewing Obama's term are:
1. Was this sheer incompetence and/or lack of experience causing a misread of his 'mandate'
2. Did he ever actually care about a broad coalition or given the unique Democratic majorities took advantage of an opportunity to ram as much through as far left as possible using Pelosi for the dirty work
3. Given his background, education and choice of associates was it ever possible that he could/would govern as a pragmatic from the center, or is he simply programmed to be an ideologue