The polls and pundits assure us that the presidential election November 6 will be close. Some even speak of a virtual tie. They are probably right, and if they are, this raises serious questions about the rationality of large segments of the American public. It will be interesting, and important, to try to understand why so many Americans seem determined to vote against their personal interests and against their country’s future as a vibrant, prosperous, creative society. It should be crystal clear that any vote for Romney and most of the Republicans now running for national office is precisely that—a vote against the future of America and also against the personal interests of the vast majority of its citizens.
It is characteristic of the “right-wing” talk show babblers to react to criticism with epithets such as “idiot!” or “moron!” In fact, their critics are intelligent and more respectful of truth and facts than those who engage in reactionary rant rather than reasonable debate. The use of such epithets only exposes the poverty of the speaker’s reasoning and the scarcity of fact to support it.
Observing the recent gridlock in Congress, thoughtful foreigners have begun to wonder about the intelligence, or even sanity, of the American voters who send the uncompromising ideologues to Congress. Their habit of “standing firm” on utterly discredited theories, refusing compromise, willfully ignoring what happened in the recent past, and—when push comes to shove—simply lying in order to make a president Americans elected “fail” would not seem to be a winning electoral platform to a rational electorate. Nevertheless, despite the appearance to foreigners, the American people, including those who support “Tea Party” candidates, are not stupid. We need to seek other reasons for what appears to be the willingness of many patriotic Americans to vote against what reasonable, well-informed people would consider the best interests of their country.
This is an important topic, but not the one I have set for myself today. (I may write about it later.) Today I want to explain why I think it is important for the nation’s future to re-elect President Obama.
First, his policies have saved us from what could have been the worst disaster since the Great Depression. (So far as one can determine from Romney’s vague, general and often contradictory statements, his policies would repeat the mistakes of the Bush-Cheney Administration and risk turning a slow recovery into a second recession, or worse.)
Second, his foreign policies have repaired much (but not all) of the damage inflicted by the Bush-Cheney Administration. Romney has been talking out of both sides of his mouth on foreign policy, but some of his closest advisors would advocate a course that Bush-Cheney proved to be disastrous.
Third, President Obama’s policies have been consistent. He has not accomplished everything in three and a half years that his supporters hoped, but the most important things required the cooperation of Congress. When the Republican leadership decided to cooperate on nothing in order to make him fail, they should take responsibility for the shortfall in expectations. If the Republicans consider jobs important, why did they not support the legislation Obama proposed last year? Answer: they wanted unemployment to stay high so they could blame Obama, not the Republican policies that created the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
The New Yorker magazine has an important editorial article in the current issue which explains in more detail why I feel as I do. If you have any doubts, I would hope you would read it. I will quote just one of its conclusions, with which I agree wholeheartedly:
“The President has achieved a run of ambitious legislative, social, and foreign-policy successes that relieved a large measure of the human suffering and national shame inflicted by the Bush Administration. Obama has renewed the honor of the office he holds.”
Have people forgotten how low American prestige (and ability to lead) had fallen in the world in 2008? Or how the entire economy was on the brink of financial collapse? You don’t turn these things around in a few months; it takes years. And, despite Republican refusal to cooperate, Obama did turn things around. Recovery started about eight months after he took office, which is close to lightening speed in national economic terms. The recovery has not been as fast as we would have liked, but if “Tea Party” demands had been met, things would have gotten worse, not better.
Obama’s re-election is in the national interest. I also believe it is also in the interest of the Republican Party itself. If it is to play the role of participating in responsible government, either in the majority or in opposition, it has to rid itself of the single-minded ideologists who hold everything hostage to their pet theories or pet projects. That is not the American way, and if it should prevail, the United States will in fact become a second rate power.
Abraham Lincoln once called on Americans to sacrifice their blood and treasure to preserve a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” It is ironic that the party he founded now seems to be devoted to creating a government “over the people, by the one percent, for the one percent.” This is not going to work in the long run and the sooner the Republican Party puts the loonies back on the margins where they belong, the better off they, and the rest of us will be. (I am a registered Independent, whose allegiance is to the Constitution of the United States, not to any political party.)