Some of the pundit class, mostly from the right, claim without evidence that America is generally a conservative nation. I don’t buy it one bit. Any student of history, anecdotal as well as factually intensive, would understand that America is a cautiously progressive nation. By this, I mean, we don’t move backwards and we are never complacent standing in place. This country that I love has an amazing ability to surprise and to move, sometimes slowly but always inexorably forward. Occasionally it may feel that we move sideways (Reagan and W. Bush) but never do we lurch backwards. But backwards is where Romney and Ryan want to take this country. Back to a time when Seniors didn’t have government health care. Back to a time where the robber barons rule the land and control what pensions we have and certainly not overseen by a regulatory government program like Social Security. And clearly not any retirement program which is union sponsored as unions stop the free enterprise system from working…The drift is clear and it takes us back not to the 50’s that Romney articulates but actually to the 1920’s. Interesting that this all comes at a time when we have been on the precipice of another Great Depression–avoided by careful, methodical and clever means by a President of great intellect and ability. Electing Romney and Ryan would be a bridge to the twentieth century and the beginnings of that century, before Roosevelt (arguably either one!). I can’t believe that such a thing could ever happen in my country and I still don’t. Despite the polls and the press willing this election to be a hair close to a tie, the evidence and facts and optimism of the country should make the result clear on Tuesday (or Wednesday).
President Obama is a cautious progressive. He moved the country slowly, incrementally, but correctly towards progress. He is no socialist or “other” that the Fox right wants to proclaim. Of course, as a good progressive, heck a liberal, I wish he would move things farther and faster. But, his wisdom is greater than mine. It is truly one step in front of each other, one day at a time. Yes, it is a kind of a 12-step program for a country in need of rehab from the Reagan to Bush era. And, despite the press and punditocracy, I think most Americans get it. Electing Barack Obama took courage and was an act of greatness and a step forward for our country healing from a history we try to forget. But to make too much of that is to mythologize Obama and that isn’t fair to him or the way he governs. Instead, he is a bright thinker and a cautious man moving this country away from an era of individualism to an era of common good. People can’t all see that now but they will a decade hence. But, that only really works if he is reelected.
So, will Obama be reelected or will all my thoughts about forward v. backward be for naught. Until this past weekend, I was certain and optimistic in believing that Obama’s reelection was never in doubt. Especially not a loss to W. Mitt Romney especially–a man not unencumbered by conviction, thought or fact. But, even I started to have some trepidation and doubt. What caused that? Too much poll reading for one. The Des Moines Register endorsement of Romney the other. The polls are a mess. But, I can explain some of their fluidity and oddness by screens they make, the way they come to the conclusion of likely voters (without reference to who is actually early voting) and the lack of communication with cell phone users in whole and/or in any frame relative to the actual use of cell versus landline. I mean, many pundits keep suggesting that most homes reliant on cell and not land line are related to twenty-somethings who likely don’t vote. But, that isn’t correct by a long shot. I know many 40 and 50 year old households without land lines and I don’t know many 20 somethings that aren’t “severely” engaged in this election. Maybe that is anecdotal but I feel like I have a better fix on this than the pollsters and generally “old, white, straight, men” who pass as pundits.
The Des Moines Register is a different animal. I was really bothered by their endorsement and tone of it. The Register is generally on the pulse of things in Iowa (and maybe they are) but more broadly speak for the Midwest (where elections are won these days). I can’t understand their reasoning that Obama hasn’t done enough (avoid the great depression, save the auto industry, improve housing starts, cut unemployment in half, protect women, promote healthy social change with demolishing Dont’ Ask Don’t Tell and promoting marriage equality, hunting down terrorists, evicting Dictators in a thoughtful and helpful way limiting the loss of US life and treasure, coming up with an improvement in our health care system that actually will help small business, but I digress) such that it is time to hand the keys to a guy who wants to out-Bush, Bush in terms of the economy and take us back to a pre-Roosevelt era of social welfare and the common good. Before despair hit too hard, I did some digging and realized that the political hand that guided the Register for so long, the great David Yepsen, is no longer at the paper having moved to the Paul Simon Institute for good government (named after the Senator not the singer). This made me relax a bit. Then the Giants won the World Series (for those who study the arcane, most often–used to be always but that changed some in the 80’s and 90’s–when the National League team wins the Series so do the Dems and vice-versa for the American League) and I started relaxing again. Then, sadly, Hurricane Sandy was upon us and that storm will roil the politics but might remind the electorate of the great leadership that Barack Obama brings to the job.
So, what happens in the election? I don’t know but I stand by my conviction that we move forward, never back (although sometimes sideways). Romney is a move backward and not sideways. Obama is a move forward but a safe and incremental forward. I put my money on him. And, I can see a wave that comes and elects Obama without being all that close–oh, no where near his numbers in 2008 but definitely a clear victory and one that gives the Democrats several seats more in the Senate and the House (in fact, I think we may see an almost sweep for the Dems in the Senate but probably not enough to retake the House–then again, if the pollsters aren’t getting all the people who actually will vote, who knows). Of course, it is close and I may be proven wrong which will be a devastating blow both to my psyche and, more importantly, to the country that I love. So, the only thing I can say for certain is that if you, good progressives, don’t vote–we could lose. If we all do vote, and as we are truly the majority in this country, then Obama will prevail and we will continue to march forward together united as Americans. Go vote, don’t delay, vote early if you can, remind your friends and colleagues. Do it–don’t let 2000 happen again!