By Lynn Paris
I know I said I was taking a break from politics, but it really hasn’t worked out so well. I tried, but with the airwaves dominated by the republican primary and the state of the union address, there was no way for an addict like me to hold out for very long.
Besides, I simply can’t resist adding my two cents to the debate. The Republican presidential candidates have dwindled down to four. Of course, Ron Paul is a libertarian and doesn’t really belong there and Rick Santorum doesn’t appear to have the support or the money to keep going. I will give Santorum some props though. He’s the only true right-wing conservative left, meaning that what you see is what you get. Not just for this election, but for all time. It might be ultra-conservatism in the extreme, especially on social issues. It might be antithetical to everything I believe. But at least he’s authentic. That could pay off down the road, if he’s still around.
The mean-spiritedness of the more recent debates, to say nothing of the negative attack ads being run by Romney, and to a far lesser extent by Gingrich (not for lack of desire but only for lack of funds) has turned the fight into a full-fledged war, with tons of collateral damage being left in its wake. Both campaigns must have the Obama camp smiling; they’re doing so much of the dirty work ahead of time. I realize this is what happens in primaries . . . you rip each other to shreds and then, after calling your opponent a vicious lying hypocrite and being called the same in return, everyone unites and pretends to support the winner in order to defeat the opposition.
When the debate is about policy or different solutions, coming together might not be so difficult, but the fight between Gingrich and Romney has gotten deeply mean and deeply personal. One of the reasons for that is that neither has talked much about policy or solutions; their policy is to continue the income inequity and deregulation that has failed so miserably and their solution is to rid the country of Obama.
My question is which Obama do they want to get rid of? The REAL Obama, or the Obama they’ve made up who remains the target of their attacks. Because the real Obama bears no resemblance to the mythical president they are pretending to run against . . . some ultra-liberal, left-wing, maybe socialist, maybe Muslim, anti-American guy who loves food stamps more than employment and has brought this country to the brink of the abyss. That’s the guy they are constantly describing, which is why I can’t wait until one of them has to face the real Obama in the battle for the presidency.
The other reason the fight between Gingrich and Romney is so ugly and mean is that they’ve been fighting about character and core values, which neither seems to have. Neither seems to care one whit about the middle class, about the problems of everyday people, about the future of this country or about anything except winning. Each is such an easy target it almost seems unfair.
I’m not saying that Obama will have an easy time campaigning on his record among the brainwashed-by-Fox conservatives, because he won’t. They have no idea what he’s really done or what he really stands for; they only know what they’ve been told, over and over again, by those describing the mythical president. He won’t have an easy time among liberals either, many of whom wish he’d taken a stronger stance on issues like universal healthcare or closing Guantanamo.
But ultimately, if this election is won based on who cares most about the country and who has the character to lead it, then it’s no contest. If it’s based on values that are held by the vast majority of Americans, then Obama is the only one who shares those values.
Most Americans, if presented with a straight up choice ― stripped of political ideology ― between a society where we have shared responsibility for our future and for each other and a society where greed and selfishness represent our core values, would choose the former. The majority of Americans, if given the choice, would prefer fairness and the guarantee that everyone has to play by the same rules to a government whose primary purpose is to protect the wealthy to the detriment of everyone else.
If Obama can make clear his shared values, not with those on the extreme fringes but with the vast number of voters in the middle, then he will emerge as the only one fighting for the middle class, for fairness, for education and innovation and hope . . . and for the restoration of the American dream. And the Republican candidate, whoever it is, won’t stand a chance.