REASON 14: Because this is an election with existential implications.
It seems as if every four years we find our country in a presidential election with existential implications. This year, once again, it’s become crucial that we actively choose sides in a face-off between candidates with drastically different ideas and ideals. It may not be possible to duplicate the near-euphoric enthusiasm of that first Obama campaign, but supporting his bid for re-election is perhaps more important now than in 2008.
Despite some disappointments with the President’s first term, there are significant accomplishments that he can point to. Even with a rigidly uncompromising and antagonistic Republican/Tea Party, Obama navigated our economy through the storms of the worst financial crisis since 1929. And in the process he saved the U.S. auto industry. Imagine Chuck Berry’s Maybelline “navigatin’ over the hill” without a “Cadillac Coupe de Ville” and a “V-8 Ford”. Obama placed a big bet on the American car companies and their workers won, their many American suppliers won and our overall economy won.
Secondly, he ended the painful and hugely costly U.S. involvement in Iraq, brought all the troops home, and left Iraq with enough stability that Iraqis can now shape their own future—and he is gradually extricating us from Afghanistan. Along the way he also took out Osama Bin Laden. His foreign policy has been both prudent and pragmatic, but most of all it has kept the country safe.
Perhaps his greatest achievement has been the passing of our first national health care legislation. Many questions remain about the efficacy of Obama’s health care legislation, but for the first time most Americans will have access to health care without fear of being denied a visit to a doctor or hospital for lack of funds or because of a pre-existing medical condition. Undoubtedly, this legislation will be improved as time passes, but at least we’ve begun to realize the ideals of a compassionate country that cares for all its citizens.
On the other side of the aisle, the Republican Party is in a struggle for its very soul; a battle between the so-called “moderate” conservatives and the Tea Party. The few remaining true moderates have fled the banner of the no-longer-recognizable Republican Party of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. The country needs a sane Republican Party not a rigidly antagonistic, no-compromises-allowed group of zealots. They should not be rewarded for dogmatically blocking Democratic-initiated legislation even when the country’s best interests would have been served by its passage. Romney secured his nomination by assuring this base that he was as conservative as they wished him to be. He accepted PAC funding from deeply conservative billionaires with narrow agendas like Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers, and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. A Romney Administration will surely repay these debts in the form of Supreme Court appointees (do we really need another three Clarence Thomases?), financial deregulation of the sort that precipitated the financial meltdown that occurred during the last Bush presidency, and concessions to right-wing religious values such as a ban on same-sex marriage and women’s right to choose.
Come November the country will opt for one of two very different visions of the American future. I think America has a much better chance of realizing its full potential to deliver for all its people if Barack Obama is given another four years. And maybe we'll get to hear him do his Al Green tribute medley at one of the Gershwin Prize ceremonies.
New Canaan, Connecticut