In our AP US Government class, we have recently learned about political parties, organizations, and the election process in general. We have studied the range of factors that affect politicians’ success during their terms in office and during their time on the campaign trail—an especially relevant topic in light of recent events leading up to the 2012 presidential elections. The passage of President Obama’s healthcare reform bill has been a divisive issue amongst Democrats and Republicans for quite some time, producing strong and vocal opinions for and against the bill. However, the healthcare bill is no longer just the focus of debate amongst the Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Now, the Supreme Court is putting the bill to the test in terms of constitutionality.
The Supreme Court’s actions have raised an important question: What will the case results do for (or against) Obama’s campaign? At first glance, the answer seems clear. If the Supreme Court says that the healthcare law is constitutional, Obama’s campaign will receive a positive boost. If the law is declared unconstitutional, Obama will risk losing legal credibility. However, the actual effect of the Supreme Court ruling on the views of the American public is more difficult to pinpoint. According to the Huffington Post, even if the healthcare law was declared unconstitutional, “it would end the GOP argument that a Republican president must be elected to guarantee repeal of the law.”
Just as important in affecting the views of the American public is how President Obama reacts to the Supreme Court ruling, whether it is for better or for worse. Some scholars argue that even if Obama receives negative feedback from the Supreme Court, trying to aggressively modify the Court in response would only make things worse. Political author John Meacham makes this case in an opinion article for Time, giving the historical example of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to support his theory about the relationship between the Court and the presidency.
In the end, I feel that the fact that there isn’t always a clear-cut answer as to how much various factors will affect a politician’s campaign is what truly tests a politician’s ability to be adaptive. Election results, court opinions, and the view of the American public are constantly changing. However, if a candidate is dynamic enough to be able to deal with these changes, he or she will be able to find the way to victory.