How the Election Looks, Five Months Out
It is less than six months until the US elections for President, House of Representatives,and one-third of the Senate.
A year ago, seeing the level of hate and vitriol against Obama from the ultra-right, and the paralysis of government, I was pretty convinced that the Republicans would win easily. Now, however, I think Obama will prevail, at least if the votes are counted accurately and the voters are allowed to vote (both of them BIG ifs, in the wake of anti-vote legislation and the near-unanimous adoption of vote-counting techniques that are entirely too easy to rig, as we saw in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004).
- The other candidates have been making very cogent arguments against Romney; the Republicans have given Obama plenty of ammunition.
- Romney himself is the most clueless major-party US presidential candidate I can remember, constantly putting his foot in his mouth, constantly shifting positions, and failing to convince pretty much anybody of his sincerity, his integrity, his ability to relate to common people, or even his basic competence. It’s almost as if he were coached by Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin.
- The Occupy (a/k/a 99%) movement has focused long-overdue attention on class issues, while Romney has cheerfully embraced his fellow one-percenters.
- The Republican Party as a whole, with Romney’s open support, has made it clear that their tent is not big enough to hold unemployed people, Latinos, women’s reproductive rights supporters, gays and lesbians, or students—or even moderate Republicans (just ask Senator Richard Lugar). Obama has opened his arms to these constituencies. If the Democrats can get all those folks to show up and vote, they win.
- It is painfully obvious that Washington’s political gridlock is the Republican Party’s doing. They’ve been dubbed “the party of no” for good reason. People are sick and tired of the constant obstructionism and of the specifically stated goal of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Our top political priority is to deny President Obama a second term.” Not exactly an appropriate priority for a country still struggling with a deep recession, two major and several minor wars, crises in healthcare and education, and all the rest.
- Nobody likes a bunch of name-calling whining bullies. Instead of proposing actual solutions to our country’s problems, the Republicans have race-baited, religion-baited, called him a socialist (for goodness sake—Richard Nixon has a more progressive record!) and a Muslim, and all the rest of the ridiculous Big Lie nonsense.
- While Obama’s accomplishments are smaller in number and far more centrist than they need to be, he can point to some real strides: The economy is better, Osama Bin Laden is neutralized, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell s justifiably buried, two terrific Supreme Court Justices have been appointed (we need one more to replace one of the four on the extreme right), and something vaguely resembling healthcare reform actually got passed, where every other president since FDR failed.
- The right cannot attack Obama on the places he’s most vulnerable: personal liberty, an absurd faith in nuclear power, failure to keep his promises on renewable energy, and an inability to get us out of all these wars—because Obama’s positions on all these issues pretty much are the Republican positions.
- And finally, even if they totally forgot to do the necessary organizing to pass his agenda, Obama’s campaign knows a whole lot about social media and community organizing. This provided the edge in 2008, and could do so again if the Dems can convince young voters especially that they haven’t sold them out, and that the kind of change they voted for in ’08 may be difficult to achieve, but it would be impossible under Romney.
Still, the Democrats cannot and should not take victory for granted, and they have to make sure to pick up seats in Congress as well.