President Obama's convention speech last night was nothing short of brilliant. But that shouldn't be a surprise, since nearly all of his speeches are brilliant. He touched on all the right themes, and demonstrated once again why he deserves a second term. As everyone who reads this blog knows, he has done a lot as president, despite having to work around some really significant obstacles. If you haven't read the list I compiled of President Obama's accomplishments, you owe it to yourself to do so, and pass it around to everyone you know.
In a normal election year, I wouldn't be worried. President Obama is the best candidate for president, by far. Willard Romney, for all of his business "accomplishments," simply doesn't have the knowledge of what it means to run the government. His only experience in government was four years as Massachusetts governor, and that experience was apparently so bad, he won't even talk about it these days.
But this isn't a normal election year. Progressives made a statement in 2008, and Barack Obama won in a landslide. It was the largest margin of victory by any Democrat since LBJ, and it felt great. We did it through positivity. Obama and progressives pushed a positive message that resonated with people of all ideological stripes, and we echoed that. We need to do that again.
But we all stumbled badly in 2010. The negative rhetoric against Democrats caused many potential voters to stay home, and we allowed Tea Party Republicans to take control of the House and also come within a hair's breadth of taking over the Senate, too.
In President Obama's first two years, hundreds of progressive bills passed the House, only to hit a roadblock in the Senate in the form of the filibuster. Our solution to this problem should have been to make sure there were too few Senators to filibuster anything. Instead, we pushed the notion that Democrats were "spineless" throughout the election campaign, and instead of gaining the 2-3 Senate seats that would've assured that all or most progressive legislation would have become law, we ended up handing Congress to teabaggers, who have given us the most ineffective Congress in the nation's history.
For whatever reason, some folks got the idea that Blue Dogs were the problem, which is patently untrue. Some Blue Dogs pushed the envelope with their rhetoric, but none of them ever cast a deciding vote against an important bill and none ever voted against cloture. Ever. Are they ideal Democrats? No, of course not. But getting rid of them was not a valid option in 2010. In fact, getting rid of them is how we got a House full of teabaggers.
Politics is a process. In order to get from A to Z, you have to go through the other 24 letters. There are no shortcuts. We can't get rid of Blue Dogs in Congress until we completely discredit and demolish the far right's ideology. And the only way to do that is to make sure they lose, and lose big. And that requires us to present an alternate vision for America. Don't jump up and down and scream about how horrible the bad guys are. We have to offer people ideas and policy initiatives that make us appealing to the masses.
We still have time to do that this year, but we all have to be on the same page.
President Obama said it perfectly last night, when he said:
But when all is said and done, when you pick up that ballot to vote, you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation. Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington, on jobs, the economy; taxes and deficits; energy, education; war and peace, decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children’s lives for decades to come.
And on every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties.
It will be a choice between two different paths for America.
A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.
Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known.
And this, my friends, is what this and the next several elections are about. This isn't about making sure we get everything we want. It's about moving the country away from the ledge. The difference between Republicans and Democrats at this point in history is stark; there are times when it seems like the Republican Party has been taken over by aliens. Their priorities are offensive, their ideology is offensive; everything about them goes against what makes this country great.
What you absolutely must understand is that the leadership of the Republican Party isn't trying to attract voters, they're trying to repel them. They have their ignorant masses, who will vote for anyone with an R after their name. What they are trying to do with their offensive act is to depress turnout, so that the votes from their legion of morons weighs more heavily. If more than 55% of registered voters show up at the polls this time, Democrats will probably win. What the GOP is trying to do is to make the average swing voter so disgusted that he or she won't want to bother to vote. I know a lot of swing voters, and their voting decision is rarely about which candidate to support, but whether to bother to vote at all. If they can get turnout below 50%, they have a better chance of winning, regardless of their rhetoric.
We have to keep this in mind from now through November 6 and far beyond. We simply cannot just run around and point at Republicans and tell everyone how offensive they are. We can't equivocate, and imply that both parties are two sides of the same coin. Not only is it a lie, but it discourages swing voters from showing up at all. If you know the Republican candidate is an idiot, and you're being told the Democrat is an idiot, as well, why would you show up at the polls?
It's time to get behind Democrats – yes, folks, that means Blue Dogs, too – and be sure the right wing is repudiated at the polls. We can take back the House this year. We can get Democrats up to more than 60 votes in the Senate by 2014. But to do so, we have to support them unequivocally, at least until the right wing influence has been beaten out of the GOP, politically speaking.
Democrats, for all of their faults – and they do have them – do care about real people, and the real Constitution, and they genuinely seem to want us to get the most bang for our tax buck. They invest in the country, and they are enormously protective of the investments we've made previously, such as Social Security, Medicare and the newly minted Obamacare. If Republicans win, they will move us back to where we were four years ago, economically, and they will take us back to the 1950s, socially.
This is our time, but it has to be our time for at least the next few election cycles. Offer a positive vision for America, and sell the Democratic Party with all your might. The future of the country really does depend on it.