Now that the knee-jerk reactions to the election results are slowly starting to subside, it’s a little bit easier to step back and thoroughly analyze what a Barack Obama victory really means for the country moving forward. The immediate emotional responses that are typical of Election Day and inevitably cloud one’s judgment are gone, or, are hopefully going away, at least.
For myself, someone who voted for the Romney-Ryan ticket in hope of avoiding another mediocre Obama term in office, I was disappointed that my guys lost, but I wasn’t particularly stunned, saddened, or angry. Given the majority of he polling numbers circulating prior to November 6th, it was pretty clear to me that Mitt Romney’s path to the White House was becoming more and more unlikely, compounded by the fact that critical swing states were falling to the other side, one by one by one. Republicans can say what they want about skewed polling data and research bias, but I surely wasn’t expecting a Romney victory when I flipped to ABC’s election coverage after dinner.
Now that the election results are finalized (except for stubborn, slow-moving Florida), I accept that I supported the losing ticket, in my first presidential election, I may add, and need to root for President Obama as he continues to tackle our nation’s biggest problems, however ineffectively that’s going for him. More Americans subscribed to the Barack Obama vision for this country and I need to live with that.
But, what is the Barack Obama vision for this country? Based on his campaign for reelection, what exactly is the Obama Doctrine, domestically and abroad? If you had to summarize Obama’s plan for a second term in three short sentences, what would they be?
As summer turned to autumn and the debates were underway, signaling that the race was finally heating up, I heard a whole lot of criticism of Mitt Romney, the executive, the politician, the man himself. Every single day, I saw a new ad or heard a new Obama snippet that attempted to demonstrate what was wrong with the Republican candidate and his vision for the United States. He’s too wealthy. He only cares about his rich friends. He doesn’t care about poor people and especially not African-Americans (or women or Hispanics or seniors or college students or the middle class.) He fires people and has fun doing it. He wants to end social entitlement programs as we know them. He wants to go to war with
Iran and Russia and China and fill-in-the-blank. He’s an out of touch plutocrat lacking the human emotions of compassion, generosity, and common decency.
Am I missing something? Well, considering the ruthless nature of 2012’s attack ads, I probably am.
But, in terms of President Obama’s actual plans for 2012 and beyond, there’s no broader theme. There’s absolutely no overarching vision. I’ve gotten bits and pieces, but nothing strung together to form something greater than a bunch of unrelated parts. There’s common political rhetoric, for sure. Yes, America’s richest people should see their taxes increase in order to give back a little bit more to the less fortunate. Yes, small businesses should be allowed to prosper, not impeded by higher taxes. Yes, the United States should continue to pursue strong alliances and multilateralism abroad, avoiding unnecessary conflict if possible. But, if you were pressed to briefly describe Obama’s personal dream for the future, what would you say? You wouldn’t know what to tell me and, if you somehow knew, it would take you a long while to articulate.
Barack Obama is the opposite of Ronald Reagan in this respect. Lower taxes across the board to stimulate economic growth and bring down unemployment. Cripple the Soviet Union by outspending it. Reestablish America’s global superiority and reassert its exceptionalism. We’ve all heard these phrases in some form or another, but part of Reagan’s mystique as the Great Communicator rested both in the simplicity of his message and clarity of his vision. Reagan wanted a stronger America and had unwavering faith in his plan to strengthen it. The American public always knew what he believed and the basics of what he had planned.
As Barack Obama begins his second term, we all hope that he can defeat intense ideological polarization by promoting bipartisanship at the federal level, bringing Democrats and Republicans together to fix crucial issues, such as the menacing “fiscal cliff” that we always hear about. This is clearly the Obama Administration’s goal, as it should be, but the plan remains largely unclear.
After a long campaign of bashing the other side, characterizing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as misguided and downright incompetent, Barack Obama comes out on the other side without a whole lot to offer. At least, you don’t really know what he’s offering. I got his campaign message – the Romney-Ryan ticket represents the wrong way to go and voters should support him, instead. But, what I don’t get is why. What I don’t understand is the alternative to the Romney-Ryan proposal. What escapes me is the current administration’s fundamental remedy for our
nation’s many serious ailments.
Why is the Obama way the right way to go?
In fact, let’s leave that aside altogether. What is the Obama way in the first place?
On November 12th, less than a week after the election, I’m still searching for a true definition and it’s nowhere to be found.