It’s election time in the good ole U. S. of A. One party is attempting to give a President with baggage another four years in office while the other party has nominated a less than exciting candidate who has failed thus far to unite his party, but still believes this candidate can win on the “referendum against the President” vote. Sound familiar? It’s 2004 all over again.
It’s an obvious comparison. Many on the Left find comfort in this comparison – noting that the outcome in 2004 is one that favors our guy this time. Negative passion can be exciting and fun to debate, but does it really get voters to the polls on a cold November day?
There is, of course, one major problem with this theory. The baggage is drastically different. In 2004, the big issue surrounding Bush was the war in Iraq. Many were realizing that Iraq was an unjust war, started on lies and innuendo, and in turn were becoming angry. The growing feeling in the nation was that we never should have been there and with each death suffered in the military, the fury grew.
However, the sad reality is those effected by military death and injury represent a small portion of the population. While we like to think we can empathize and understand the effects war has on our soldiers and their families, we really can’t. We are touched by an article or a TV interview and then we go on with our day. The Iraq war was becoming unpopular, but there was no draft threatening our sons or daughters, no real desperation to see it end.
And the Right was able to defend the war. During the election of 2004- we were told we were fighting Al Qaeda “there rather than here at home”. Over and over we were reminded it was George W. Bush who kept us safe all those years after 2001 and peace-loving Kerry did not have what it would take to continue this strong effort. After a devastating smear campaign on Kerry’s military record, the American electorate awarded Bush a second term.
President Obama’s baggage is the far more wide spread. The economy effects all of us. The value of our homes has fallen, we’ve seen foreclosure touch our communities and we are all aware that the unemployment rate is too high. Our anxiety is growing and our patience is wearing thin. In typical American fashion, we want a quick fix — and we want it yesterday.
Given this environment, how do we get President Obama re-elected? Without a doubt, Mitt Romney’s record with Bain Capital will have to be explored. As the President said last week, Romney “is saying he is a business guy, and this is his business.” The campaign is right to point out every flip, every flop, and exploit all the flaws Romney may have as an executive with Bain and perhaps more significantly, during his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts.
But the real way President Obama wins this is election is not to “swift boat” his opponent. It is to simply and frequently explain what he has been doing the past 4 years. Illustrate how the job loss numbers have continued to improve since he took office — reversing Bush’s trend. Show us how TARP money is being paid back to the US Treasury, with interest, and brag about saving the Auto Industry. Explain that 2.5 million young people who were previously uninsured now have access to health care, that those battling disease no longer have to worry about reaching their lifetime caps and that children can no longer be denied insurance because of preexisting conditions. Counter the growing debt argument by explaining that government spending under this Adminstration has grown at a slower rate that it has in 4 decades. State the obvious: we are TRULY safer. Osama is gone, the Iraq war is over and the situation in Afghanistan is coming to a close.
But most importantly, President Obama must remind the American public why we voted for him in that historic election in 2008. Stand in front of us and demand that we do our part in saving this nation. Get us excited and engaged. Resurrect the eloquent words that “we are the ones we have been waiting for” and make us pay attention again. We have come to accept that President Obama is not a saviour who will take us by the hand and guide us to the promise land — now he must convince us he is the thoughtful and intelligent leader who, if given the chance, will help us find a way to make this country strong again – for everyone.
President Barack Obama did not fulfill the fantasies that many liberals and progressives put upon him, each of us with our own unique twist. That was the danger in capturing the feeling of hope that he did in 2008; it has been impossible to deliver a satisfactory result at the individual level. But he has accomplished much of what he said he would, and with four more years free from the burden of another election, he can take us even further.
It’s 2012 and I still believe. Yes, we can.