Endorsement: For president — Barack Obama
This week the Journal and Courier endorsed Mitt Romney for president. The takeaway: while the editorial board had high hopes during Obama’s first term, he didn’t accomplish everything he promised, so we might as well go with the other guy. The J&C was dismissive of the adversarial congressional environment, where the last four years have been an exercise in Republicans refusing to do the daily business of government. They were also dismissive of the general consensus that Mitt Romney, with his car elevators and Olympic horse entourage, is kind of out of touch with the economic reality of most Americans’ lives. The editorial board also ignored the basic inaccuracies trumpeted by Romney team during this campaign, and the Romney team’s outright assertion that the facts don’t matter to the American people (with so many examples it’s the subject of another post, if not its own book), especially when being loose with the facts is good for politics. Overwhelmingly, the editorial board also seemed to be a little unsure about what, exactly, Obama has been able to accomplish during his first term, or what’s next for his second.
Obama has actually accomplished quite a bit during his first term. Much of the “compelling story” that J&C believes Obama lacks has been drowned out by high rhetoric about the legitimacy of his presidency, see: the Tea Party and Donald frigging Trump demanding the man’s “long form” birth certificate for four years, and complaints by Republicans and their Tea Party hangers on that we are on a runaway train headed straight to Soviet communism. It’s difficult to dissect the political atmosphere without also noting that a significant portion of the electorate’s discomfort with Obama boils down to everyday, run of the mill racism. Peeling away said rhetoric, in truth, Obama’s accomplishments are pretty big, very much worthwhile, and in line with where the next generation wants to be. Here’s a long list of his top 50 achievements, and an even longer list here, but I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting others below.
Healthcare reform, aka the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, love it or hate it, was a necessary step toward healing the country’s financial woes. People on both sides of the aisle have legitimate issues with the implementation of the bill, but no matter where this goes, 32 million uninsured people who do not have insurance today will have insurance when healthcare reform goes into effect. The broken healthcare and insurance system is one of America’s primary, long-term economic woes and this puts the issue on the table indefinitely. Whatever Frankenstein policies come out of this are an improvement on what we have today, where America’s young and low- and middle-income folks are one medical emergency away from total destitution. This bill also included an education rider that kicked banks out of student lending and expanded funds for Pell Grants by $36 billion. Huge. That Obama’s biggest accomplishment is also a political liability is more telling of us than him.
Obama also passed two major economic acts: 1) the much-debated stimulus bill that saved entire industries that has evolved into “twenty-three straight months of job creation”, creating a total of “nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs”, and 2) the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to regulate Wall Street and crack down on abusive lending practices that caused enormous financial injuries to low and middle income families. We can’t forget he also saved the American auto industry, and while the government expects to lose a good portion of the money it injected into the Big Three, it also saved millions of American jobs by taking action when it did. We can speculate indefinitely about possible outcomes had Obama not passed these bills, but that’s just coffee clutch talk for political wonks.
He repealed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” formalizing policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time in American history. DADT was informally on its way out the door, but was applied unevenly and used as ammunition against GLBTQ servicepeople. This old, outdated policy also served as a deterrent for people who would otherwise be able and willing to serve in the military. Formalizing a policy that one’s sexual orientation would not be grounds for dismissal was a huge moral victory for this generation. We tend to believe that hypocrisy between one’s public and private lives is more indicative of one’s character than one’s sexual orientation, and that civil rights like marriage and all its attendant benefits should be formally extended to gay and lesbian couples as a matter of course. On that note, he also ordered the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in court. Huge.
Obama’s list of national and international accomplishments continue. Bin Laden, withdrawing from Iraq, ramping down occupation in Afghanistan, improving the international view of America and Americans after the massive PR and policy failures of Bush II. Interested parties on both sides of the aisle have legitimate complaints with the Obama administration — too much, not enough — but when it comes down to electoral politics in a highly contentious two-party system, we can’t afford J&C’s, “Eh, whatever.” If you don’t see the difference between Obama and Romney, you aren’t paying attention. While the J&C offers a hat tip to the idea that we are so polarized we often vote AGAINST one guy over another, they don’t seem to recognize either candidate on his merits or even touch on how either party’s proposed policies will affect the electorate. (Ed. note — Women of child-bearing age: Please pay attention to electoral politics.) As a site promoting local movers and shakers, Think Lafayette intends to roundly avoid partisan politics. Please consider this the exception, one born from all our conversations about Lafayette as a community of choice and how we make our community more welcoming to America’s best and brightest. At Think Lafayette, we believe that Obama’s vision is the vision of the future, with fair student and youth policies, gay and lesbian rights taking a forefront, smart policies and appointments that value ethnic and cultural diversity, vested interest in the health, welfare, and quality of life for all our citizens, and a government in which those of us who aren’t rich, white guys also have our interests represented. That’s not a Romney government. That’s an Obama government.
Mitt Romney could very well take the White House next week. So be it, voters. But if he does it won’t be, as the J&C asserts, the failure of a compelling narrative. In future campaigns, I beg the editorial board to not confuse their jadedness with buyer’s remorse.
The real crime here is a two party system that prevents citizens from choosing candidates based on actual issues, voting instead for least-worst. When tested on the issues, for example, I most identify with a candidate I’ve never heard of. Take the quiz to see who you most identify with in the presidential and governor races.
List of Tippecanoe County early voting centers [PDF]
List of Tippecanoe County voting centers [PDF]