A Promised Land

by Barack Obama

Start Free Trial

In A Promised Land, how did Obama use compromise to pursue his goals?

In A Promised Land, Barack Obama tries to use compromise to pursue his goal of bringing back bipartisanship and passing major laws with Republican support. Ultimately, Obama was unable to achieve either goal. Republicans were unwilling to compromise, and while Obama did pass critical legislation, he did so with little to no Republican support.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In A Promised Land, one of Barack Obama’s major themes is compromise. Throughout his memoir, Obama portrays his team as invariably trying to figure out ways to work with Republicans. Whether it involved the stimulus package, healthcare reform, or a possible immigration overhaul, Obama makes it clear that he and his team wanted to compromise with Republicans to pursue their goals and fix some of the critical problems besetting America.

In his memoir, Obama writes of a “pervasive nostalgia” for a “bygone era of bipartisan cooperation.” Right away, Obama tries to bring that spirit of compromise back. He crafted an economic stimulus package that featured tax cuts. The tax cuts were intended to garner Republican support. When Republicans still refused to compromise, Obama spoke directly to House Republicans. But Obama’s speech did not result in compromise. While the stimulus bill did pass the House, zero Republicans supported it.

The economic stimulus package would set a frustrating pattern for Obama. On major pieces of legislation, including the aforementioned healthcare bill and potential immigration reform, Obama would make earnest attempts to compromise with Republicans only to be ultimately rebuffed.

In a sense, Obama’s emphasis on compromise did not help him pursue his goals. Almost all of his major legislation passed with little to no Republican support.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team