Reality Check – Obama Can Win Re-election
Revised post. Originally posted Saturday, July 9.
Over the past few weeks, as a middle-class voter in the Midwest, I’ve been watching the political machinations of Washington and the Presidential wannabes. The hammer’s been pounding on the President by commentators and their guests, pundits, and political columnists such as Karl Rove with his two recent columns on the President’s chances for re-election vs. those of the Republicans. If I were the President, I’d be very happy these problems are in July 2011 and not July 2012.
Lest anyone think that the economy is going to be responsible for Obama’s defeat, think again. Double-digit unemployment, trillions in Federal debt, unprecedented housing foreclosures, and foreign policy mismanagement are resounding reasons for the voters to drive him from office. For Republican candidates, offering a creditable, actionable plan with a personality that can sell it, may not be enough. The Democrats have a number of strengths and strategies that can propel the President to win a second term in 2012.
Strength #1: Chicago Machine-style politics — gloves-off, “they bring a knife, we bring a gun” that will prove brutal for any of the Republican candidates.
Despite the latest inane remark by David Plouffe (and I hope he makes more of them), I go back to the Kevin Costner/Sean Connery church scene in The Untouchables, where Costner’s character, Elliott Ness, is trying to recruit the old, street smart, ready to retire cop, in his fight against Al Capone. Sean Connery asks, “what are you prepared to do?” The 2012 campaign is going to be all out war, and the candidate who accepts that fact and responds accordingly will be in the best position to defeat Obama. To stay on message, to maintain respect is critical for a candidate. But I’m one voter who’s not planning on electing a fool to the Presidency.
Strength #2: Class and economic warfare strategy.
Wealth redistribution theories and demonizing of American business, not to mention regulatory strangulation, have done more to polarize Americans than any one strategy the Democrats have in their arsenal. The longer the economy, jobs, and housing prices continue to lag, the more that the “fairness” doctrine will become rooted in some American psyches.
The Democrats have owned the debate thus far on Medicare reform, and they continue to define the Republicans as the party of the rich, Wall Street, and the big corporations. However, there are plenty of Republicans, and Republican-leaning independents who aren’t “rich” and don’t work on Wall Street. The Republicans have been sorely lax in identifying with and cultivating these groups. These should be the face and “poster children” of the Party and the principles it stands for.
Strength #3: The Democratic voter base.
Comprised of liberals, the Black community and the 18-24 age group, they voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008, and given their respective philosophies and histories, it’s difficult to see any of them switching course in 2012. But with regard to the 18-24 demographic, Republican leadership is forgetting that these voters are part of America’s future, and to not try to fully engage them on their own turf is a major mistake, which leads me to …
Strength #4: Social media as a formidable communications, fundraising, and organizing tool.
The power of Facebook, Twitter, RSS, and other social media were harnessed by the Obama campaign in 2008 to help him beat Hillary, and capture the nomination and Presidency. The Democrats have ramped up their social media for 2012. One of their most recent tweets mentions their successful grass root fundraising of $475,000. Meanwhile, we’re “tweeted” to the comings and goings of the Republican presidential hopefuls.
Strength #5: A good, old international crisis right before election day.
While I believe the President made the right call in getting bin Laden, the rest of his foreign policy has been inconsistent, with many of his latest decisions politically motivated. However, if one looks at the potential for international turmoil shortly before the election, do any of the Republicans candidates, possibly with the exception of Gingrich and Huntsman, have the experience or knowledge to take on a sitting President in this area. Remember, there was only one question in the New Hampshire debate on foreign policy.
The Republican presidential nominee field at this point in time is not complete; we may see the entry of Gov. Rick Perry by the end of summer. The Republican base, the Tea Party, and Independents who want to see Obama defeated are sorting through this candidate field. But there is a real and present danger already brewing, and that is, people are losing sight of the 2012 “prize” and becoming mired in the ideology battle. At these critical times, we need “purity” tests from party factions, as much as we need more of the same worn out platitudes and rhetoric from the candidates. If the Democrats are to be defeated for the White House in 2012, then we voters need to support the candidate who has the experience and fortitude to deal with our present harsh realities, and sets a clear vision and plan for America’s growth and future. Otherwise, it’s wait until 2016, and Gov. Christie, by that time it may be too late, even for you.
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