Because I live in the real world. And in the real world, there are stories that go beyond the political dogfights of the day. In the real world, there is every reason to be optimistic about four more years for President Obama. Don't confuse the optimism with complacency - winning in November is going to take all we can give, but give it we must, and we will - which is in and of itself one of the main reasons for my optimism. But let me lay out the reasons why I'm not worried about Mitt Romney.
Reason: The Current GOP.
It was barely a year ago that Republicans were basking in the glory of an electoral resurgence on the backs of the extremist Tea Party crowd - taking over the US House, gaining heavily in state governorships and state legislatures. Then, the American people got to see their real governing style - one that focused on eliminating economic opportunities, attacking fundamental rights of workers and women, and holding the well being of this country hostage for political gain. Last year, the American people repudiated at the polls extremist GOP ideological agenda of restricting the rights of voters, dismantling the rights of workers, forcing women to bear the children of rapists, and ending Medicare. The American people also soured on the GOP's attempts to hold the debt limit hostage in order to extract ideological concessions.
The GOP, with lightening speed, has proven to the American people that it is not ready to govern. They have proven to be nothing more than petulant children with political power. And even as voters across the country made clear that they did not stand for right wing extremism or big government conservatism, the Republican primary electorate got only more extreme and out of touch with Americans.
The GOP has managed to turn off working Americans who wish to have the right to bargain collectively. They have managed to turn off women who wish to retain control over their own bodies. They have openly called for discrimination against LGBT Americans and have opposed even the most reasonable attempts to repair our immigration system to even give children who are American in every respect except on paper a way to earn their citizenship. The party has consciously chosen to appeal to a narrower and narrower electorate on the basis of greater and greater bigotry, and it's coming back to bite them.
Reason: Mitt Romney!
The Obama campaign has made no secret of how they plan to go after Mitt Romney. They plan to tell the truth about a flip-flopping, rich, entitled buffoon who is willing to say anything to get elected and who lacks a system of core beliefs.
Romney could have been a formidable challenger to the President had he chosen to run on his record rather than from it. He could have presented a credible threat had he stood proud of his health care plan in Massachusetts. He could have had a fighting chance had he chosen to stick to his positions as the governor of Massachusetts as a pro-choice, socially moderate candidate. Hell, he could have even presented a challenge had he not flailed around on every issue from economic stimulus to health care to workers' rights.
It's not all Romney's fault. He has to pander to the most extreme elements of his party in order to win the GOP nod. But that is what shows clearly that he has no core beliefs, no set of values he wouldn't trade in for an office. He is, after all, running for office, for Pete's sake.
Of course, in recent weeks, Romney's GOP opponents have shown another clear vulnerability that will hurt him far more in the general election that it will in the primaries. The cold, calculating vulture capitalist who created Bain Capital in order to take advantage of distressed companies by buying them up, firing their employees and racking up debt to pay Bain, Romney can try to spin it as "job creation" all he wants, but the people know the truth. There's a reason Mitt Romney doesn't want to talk about Bain.
Bain also perfectly fits into the pattern of Romney's reality as a person seeking office: Mitt Romney only cares about Mitt Romney. He doesn't give a rat's ass about ordinary people who are struggling to make it through the day - not unless it involves firing them to make a buck for himself.
But here is the main reason I'm not worried about Mitt Romney.
Reason: Barack Obama
3.2 million private sector jobs in the last 22 months. He waged his presidency and all of his political capital for something he believed in and got done what other presidents - Democratic and Republican - have been talking about for over half a century: health care reform. He put forth the toughest set of regulations on Wall Street since the 1930s and created the first ever consumer watchdog agency at the federal level. He passed credit card reform and student loan reform.
He repealed the reprehensible policy that said one couldn't serve the country they love if the person they love happened to be of the wrong gender. He instituted equal pay for women and required hospitals to respect the committed relationships of same sex couples. He delivered the first tax cut for the working poor in memory in the form of a payroll tax cut. He almost singlehandedly rescued the American auto industry and saved a million jobs. He signed trade deals that will actually help American manufacturing and American jobs.
Oh, and he took out Osama bin Laden and crippled Al Queda. He engaged the world community in Libya, led a mission as part of NATO to aid the Libyan people free themselves. He ended the war in Iraq.
And he all that while the Right was screaming bloody murder, and the ideological Left was whining over crossing the i's and dotting the t's. He did it all while putting the Republicans on the ropes, exposing their radical agenda, and leading the country through the most difficult economic storm since the Great Depression and the most volatile world stage since World War II. This is a man with heart, with grit, with strength, and with the courage of his convictions. His accomplishments would be shining bright against any light, and are all the more stunning given the level of obstructionism he has faced.
And Barack Obama knows something about American politics. As much as the media outlets on both the Left and the Right like to ignore it, you don't get to be the first Black President of the United States without knowing a thing or two about the American electorate. In an economy that is improving but still hurting, people are still weary. Yet, President Obama is succeeding in making Americans understand a crucial truth: that he, not the Republicans, understand the daily struggles of average Americans. Look at this poll released yesterday from the Washington Post and the Pew Research Center:
Not only is Barack Obama the only one to have a net positive rating on this, a good majority of Americans agree that the President understands the problems of average Americans. As the economy has improved over the past few months, Americans have begun to realize that the severe damage that conservative policies caused to our economy are taking time to repair, but the job of fixing it is in the right hands.
Don't think for a moment that President Obama's campaign has been sitting idle as the Republicans duke it out among themselves. The organizer in chief has opened campaign offices in every state, and volunteers are already flooding in, and the small dollar donations are coming in faster and even more broadly than the President's groundbreaking 2008 campaign. He and his team know how to organize, how to galvanize and how to bring people out to vote. And his team includes you. And me. And everyone you can find.
I am not afraid of Mitt Romney because I have faith in the President and his campaign. And I do not believe that Americans are ready for a return to the dark ages of economic Darwinism and foreign policy cowboyism.
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