The political system in the United States has been dominated by two primary parties for some time now. These are the Republicans and Democrats. The two-party system everyone knows about has a number of flaws. One of those is that it creates an immediately adversarial relationship between the parties. Democrats often clash with Republicans over basic issues. The divide between the parties has started to grow in recent years. More people are aggressively supporting one side over the other without pausing to even consider alternative ideas. This can be seen most notably in the Congress where compromise has been replaced with partisan bickering and inaction.
A place where this can clearly be seen is the presidency. The president is head of the executive branch of the government. The election of Democratic President Barak Obama caused a noticeable change among Republican lawmakers in Congress. Well-known meetings were held almost immediately after his inauguration where Republican leaders stated that the new goal of the party was to prevent Obama from winning a second term in office. Obstructionism became a normal course of action. There was an ire and hostility towards President Obama that had not been seen in some time.
The president did make some attempts to work with Republican officials. This included assigning some key positions in the administration to Republicans. It also involved incorporating Republican policy ideas into various proposals. The thought was that giving a little would make negotiations and compromises possible. The results were actually very different. Republicans became more entrenched. They shut down the government at one point, held dozens of pointless votes and even voted down legislation that they had championed before President Obama got into office. The obstruction was lampooned regularly during different late night comedy shows. The approval rating of the Congress dropped dramatically because the Republicans simply would not do anything.
Exactly what the president thought about all of this would eventually come out in two venues. The first was the State of the Union address. Obama started peppering the speeches with coy jabs at Republican lawmakers. He sometimes received raucous applause and laughter at the normally mundane speeches. The second location turned out to be the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, or WHCD. This is an annual event where the president, lawmakers, journalists and famous individuals all get together to poke fun at themselves. The dinner is traditionally hosted by a popular comedian who attempts to roast people in the room.
The president also gets up to give a funny speech as well. President Obama revealed at past dinners that he actually has an excellent sense of timing and delivery when it comes to jokes. He would let out all his frustrations by telling a number of jokes. The 2016 WHCD was different because it was the last one President Obama would attend. He quickly started making fun of the media that had hounded him for years, his Republican opposition in the Congress and even some of the celebrities attending the event. Some of the humor was very sharp, subtle and on-target. Other jokes were self-deprecating showing that he can laugh at himself.
President Obama ended the speech by thanking everyone in the press. He reminded them of their solemn duty to maintain an open and informed democracy. He reminded everyone about his time in office. The president then lifted his fingers up, pulled out a microphone and dropped it to the ground. The microphone drop is a popular meme intended to say that you just won the argument. The audience went wild afterwards giving him a long standing ovation. President Obama will continue to be in office until January of 2017 although he is considered a lame duck after the November election occurs.