Jon Stewart labeled the Democratic National Convention, “Hope and Change—II.” Larry David, the creator of Seinfeld, quipped that Obama’s 2012 campaign platform is “Less Bad is Better Than More Bad” or, alternatively, “We Could Have Done Worse.”
I can see where these two comedians, whom I admire more than most politicians, are coming from. It was not long ago that I wrote a letter to Obama in these very pages, decrying his timidity, his willingness to kowtow to the Republicans, and his lack of passion in pushing his agenda forward.
But now that the 2012 election is in full swing, I want to stand behind Obama. I am in fact contributing to the Presidential campaign.
Why? Because I cannot risk the alternative.
Sure Obama made mistakes. Lots of them. Some commentators have even pointed out that he is and has always been a moderate Republican.
But he did promise to close Guantanamo Bay, he did say he would create a healthcare plan, and he vowed to end corruption in Washington. These are not policies that Republicans believe in. So, in 2008, the Democratic base rallied behind him.
This time, many Democrats, like me, feel disappointed. The biggest mistake Obama made, is that Obama did not exploit the voters’ mandate to push his agenda forward within the first 100 days. He should have made use of majorities in both houses of Congress to pass legislation quickly rather than rely on a divided Congress to act. He should have appointed fresh blood to clean up the financial mess and created consumer protection regulations. He should have stood for Universal Health Care or at least the Public Option.
The New York Times said as much the day after Obama’s speech at the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
But perhaps we do not know what would have happened if Obama had passionately pushed his agenda. Perhaps the country’s subconscious was so racist that it could not have tolerated the sight of a passionate black man. Perhaps it would have pigeonholed him with the likes of Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton. Perhaps they would have killed him, literally.
After all, you cannot underestimate the stupidity of a large segment of the American public, who do not remember that George W. Bush, and not Obama, plunged the country into debt, with his two wars and tax cuts for the rich. Who do not understand that they and their children are the ones who need Obamacare, with its protections for pre-existing conditions and its mandate for health exchanges.
Which is why Romney has been head to head in polls with Obama.
In reality, the choice is a no-brainer, even for those mentally challenged.
Romney is a puppet in the hands of the rich, who will vote him in simply to reduce their taxes and get richer.
Obama is no puppet. In fact, Democrats have been quite hypocritical in criticizing him for not enacting campaign reform laws and then turning around and beating up on him for not catering to rich donors during this campaign.
Just imagine for a moment a White House run by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Obamacare will be overturned (even though, recently, Romney, in his zillionth flip-flop, vowed to keep intact the provision for covering people with pre-existing conditions). Medicare will become a voucher program. Abortion will be banned. Contraceptives will not be covered by insurance, making them accessible only to rich women, and putting poor women at risk of unwanted pregnancies. Numbers of poor children will therefore increase.
The arms budget will rise, even beyond what the Pentagon has requested, creating a classic situation of a military in search of a war, probably with Russia. Welfare programs will be abolished, putting poor people on the streets. Medicaid for the disabled and the sick will also disappear. Unions will be non-existent; jobs will continue to be outsourced abroad. The rich will pay less in taxes, while the rest of us will undoubtedly have to pay more in order to close the budget deficit.
Education will be the privilege of the rich. Christianity will be the official religion of the country. Fox News will set our political agenda. Freedom of the Press will be further jeopardized, with the media accused of bias every time it points out a Republican lie.
Bipartisanship will be a thing of the past. What little financial regulations have been put into place as a result of the crisis of 2008 will be overturned, making it more difficult for poor people to get mortgages or other loans.
Climate change will become a myth; all regulations such as California’s mandate to generate 30% of its electricity from renewables, will be declared unconstitutional. Production of power from coal and other fossil fuels, will multiply. Ice caps will melt; oceans will rise; rainfalls will decrease; temperatures in India and Africa will be so high that no farming will be possible.
And all the while, Republican politicians will be sitting around the hearth talking of families.
In fact, we will not be far from the Dystopia depicted in Hunger Games, my favorite book of this summer, in which powerful politicos send children to fight one another for food.
That the Republican Party has lost all sense of morality is obvious when you consider a simple fact, that the name of George W. Bush, as far as I know, was never mentioned during the Republican National Convention. How can a President, who was in office on 9/11, which gave the Republicans the opportunity to carry out their agenda of fear-mongering and hawkishness, not even be mentioned, let alone invited to speak? Sarah Palin, who allegedly rallied the Republican base in 2008, was also treated like the plague. The Republican Party instead behaves as if the country only got Independence from the British in January 2009, when all of the country’s problems, including massive debt and a recession, began. In fact, the financial crisis and the depression occurred during W’s reign. Obama was conveniently handed the monumental task of cleaning up the mess.
I still dream of a future America with universal healthcare; an America whose military budget will be diverted to quality education so we can produce a labor force that can compete in today’s global economy. Of an America which does not bring immigrants from China and India to do jobs that our children should be educated to do. An America in which there is a social safety net for those disadvantaged or disabled. An America in which the media caters to facts, not biased opinion. An America in which intelligence is valued, not sneered at.
I dream of such a country because of people like Bill Clinton, who, during his speech in Charlotte, gave me reason to believe that Democrats are still superior to Republicans. After all, they still use reason and logic, even though a stupid electorate shuns them for their knowledge and intellect.
If we want to continue to dream of such an America, we need to give Obama a second chance, if not to carry out his promises, then as an interim measure to stop the bleeding. So please vote for Obama. The alternative is too scary to imagine.
Sarita Sarvate writes commentaries for Pacific News Service and KQED. Visitwww.saritasarvate.com