With the U.S. election right around the corner, how are we as Americans to feel about choosing the figure that will lead our great nation for the next 4 years? What to do if you’re an incumbent president running for reelection with few accomplishments to your name? You’re presiding over the most anemic economic recovery in 70 years. Unemployment is still above 8% three years after the recession supposedly ended. Your signature stimulus and health care bills are massively unpopular, and your approval rating hasn’t broken 50% in months.
That’s the challenge facing President Obama as he campaigns for another four year term. Gone is the “hope and change” rhetoric or the pledge to “change the way that we do business in Washington.”
Gone indeed is any attempt by the incumbent to offer a strategy to improve our common economic circumstances and prospects. In its place, Obama is attempting to assemble support with patronizing appeals to separate pieces of the electorate, hoping he can tape together an electoral majority. He has overladen this approach with a healthy dose of cynicism and class warfare rhetoric designed to focus the public’s anger on other Americans – anyone besides the man in charge.
I cannot help but feel President Obama is picking and choosing strategic communities of people that are desperate for some loving and using them to gain votes. Just who are the specific targets of his strategy? Here's my list:
Liberals. Let's begin with President Obama’s relentless focus on the “1%” of wealthy Americans who he constantly attacks and, worse, implies are responsible for our poor economic circumstances. Never mind that the 1% already pay approximately 37% of all federal income taxes. Never mind that his plan to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and implement the so-called “Buffet rule” would have virtually no impact on our long term deficit picture or create one single new job. The ploy here is purely political, designed to pin the economic blame elsewhere through class warfare and fire up far-left liberals who favor economic redistribution policies. This is perhaps one of the most frightening because liberals now feel entitled to shove their ideology down everyone's throat in the name of false progress.
Women. There has been a gender gap in America for years so it must be because Republicans are waging a “war on women”. Obama’s weapons here focus heavily on yet more federal laws supposedly mandating equal pay for “similar” positions. (Note: Equal pay has been the law of the land for many years.) He is also placing heavy emphasis on free contraception and access to abortion drugs, going so far as to require every health plan to cover these costs. Obama is even willing to throw the Catholic Church and the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom under the bus in pursuit of another wedge issue. I am all about giving women the right to choose their own destiny, but I think this rhetoric would receive more credibility if an actual woman spoke such fine words.
African Americans. At the recent NAACP convention, Vice President Biden renewed a 25 year old feud with retired Judge Robert Bork, who currently serves as co-chair of Governor Mitt Romney’s justice task force, attacking Bork for wanting to roll back civil rights in America. In 1987, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a budding presidential candidate, Biden attempted to ride to the White House with attacks on Bork’s judicial record. He succeeded in defeating Bork’s Supreme Court nomination, but his presidential aspirations were cut short when he was caught plagiarizing his speeches from a British politician and quickly dropped out of the race. At the same NAACP convention last week, Attorney General Eric Holder lashed out at GOP-inspired state voter registration laws requiring individuals to show an ID before voting, arguing that such laws would be harmful to minority voters. Though Democrats are skilled at playing the race card, the dance is more complicated this year since, for political reasons, Obama will have to utilize surrogates like Biden and Holder to handle this grubby business.
Latinos. Having done nothing for four years to effectively reform immigration, Obama issued an executive order this year suspending arrests of certain categories of undocumented aliens. Obama also sued Arizona over a state law that essentially requires the state to help enforce federal immigration law, something the feds have refused to do themselves. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the law’s centerpiece and rejected Obama’s position. While I don't agree that undocumented people deserve the same freedoms hard-working U.S.-born Americans are entitled to, Obama's rhetoric on giving DREAMers a fighting chance to DREAM is sad. Like my liberal friends have commented in the past, more work and less talk. These kids are seriously going to spend their days DREAMing away because public opinion very much is opposed to offering criminals freebies.
Asian-Americans. This community, perhaps equally as ignored as the Native American community, is small in numbers and makes up no more than 4% of the population. 68.4% of Asians in America are between the ages of 18-54. Nearly 73% of Asians are foreign-born and rarely interact outside their respective ethnic community. As this group struggles with English-language classes and, slowly but surely, assimilates to American values, it neglects to actively engage in civic society. To many, the Asian-American vote is not significant enough at this point in U.S. history: maybe in a few years.
The common denominator with all of these piecemeal campaign strategies is that they form no coherent whole, no larger vision for America. All are primarily designed to enhance the Obama Campaign talking points and contribute very little toward solving the major problems we encounter. Worse, they divide Americans because their primary purpose is to focus blame on anyone and everyone but President Obama.
Politics is a rough and tumble business, and thankfully, Americans tune out most politicians and political promises. But any Obama victory based on this lame duck strategy would be achieved at a high price.
His divisive plan would have no mandate for anything positive, allowing the country’s downward drift to worsen while he scrambles to address the great economic crises we face. Bipartisan cooperation would be difficult to achieve, and the 2012 election would have provided little focus or clarification for any way forward.
This year, the only thing worse for Obama than losing this election might be winning. Let's hope and DREAM for the best.