Barack Obama for President
Barack Obama deserves to be re-elected and serve a second term as President of the United States. Under his leadership we were able to inch back from onrushing chaos in our financial system; the American automobile industry was given the access to capital and the time it needed to restructure itself and save thousands of jobs; Osama bin Laden was hunted down and executed, extracting some measure of justice on behalf of the 9/11 victims and their families; and official discrimination against gays serving in the military was ended, bringing a major civil rights failure in America to an end.
With far-reaching effect, Mr. Obama secured passage of The Affordable Care Act so we can finally begin to acknowledge and address our broken health care system which features vast and unsustainable public and private expense, powerful self-aggrandizing corporate interests, enormous waste and inefficiency, and dramatically poor health status outcomes — all while unashamedly leaving more than 40 million Americans without any, or adequate, coverage.
The president’s achievements have been very substantial — the more remarkable given the enormous financial crisis handed to him by the Bush administration and the unprecedented opposition the Republican Party in congress brought to virtually everything he proposed. By contrast, Mr. Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, is a deeply disappointing candidate.
Throughout his 18-month long campaign, Mr. Romney has argued for a society organized to sustain and nourish the most advantaged, and asks us to trust that the ensuing prosperity would devolve to the rest of us to the extent that we are willing and able to take care of ourselves. Even his view of national security threats starts with the budget deficit amassed by President George W. Bush.
The document that underpins Mr. Romney’s re-hashed social Darwinism is the Paul Ryan budget. Mr. Ryan says it’s too complicated for us to understand, but we think we get it: forswearing new tax revenue, Republicans would reduce deficits only by closing unidentified loopholes (just trust us) and massive program cuts (except for military spending, which would skyrocket).
The inevitable backtracking to placate interest groups would leave us with a combination of program decimation plus new borrowing — all in the name of mindless, needless tax preferences for rich people, while limiting options for those less able to help themselves. It’s insulting, dangerous nonsense unless you personally benefit from the institutionalization of selfishness to the level of national policy.
In advance of the first presidential debate, however, as his campaign entered its final stages, Mr. Romney faced up to the polls and saw what many already knew: his economic message was unpersuasive, his social policies (properly) alienated many women, he was losing support among traditionally conservative Hispanics, and his appeal to African Americans was near zero. The extreme Republican right wing on which he depends for support, playing to what have been termed angry white males, was too small a demographic to carry a national election. And since the organizing principle for Mr. Romney is competing and winning, regardless of political principle, it was time to be once again reborn, this time in the image of a post-partisan moderate. By the third debate he actually seemed to be selling himself as the new, improved Barack Obama.
These transformations come astonishingly easily. Mr. Romney has the personality and intellectual gifts of the management consultant he has been most of his post-prep life. As strategists, he and his team do their homework, identifying opportunities to fill voids in a marketplace. So we have in Mitt Romney the Massachusetts liberal governor, the moderate Republican alternative in 2008, and finally the electable hard right conservative and then the soft right moderate of 2012.
Notably, Mr. Romney has no qualms about his chameleon-like transformations — in fact he seems pugnaciously pleased. He has no political vision and no intellectual foundation, just a drive to win. And oddly, the radicalized Republicans who brought Mr. Romney to heel over his campaign’s first 18 months seem unperturbed by his apostasy; he’s shown that he’ll follow their lead, and while they are obsessive about turning back the clock on decades of social progress, at the moment all his right wing masters care about is denying Mr. Obama another term. Mr. Romney has made a good living by selling, but he has no vision beyond personal ambition — which makes him a man who cannot be trusted to lead the country. The question is whether voters will allow Mr. Romney to get away with the charade.
Barbara and I believe that the best American society will always rest on the absolute assurance of social justice above all. Freedom, opportunity, and prosperity should follow, but the essential job of government in the best of societies should be to take care of and respect even the least among us, to protect and invest in us all.
We believe Barack Obama embodies this vision and shares these values. He has been a remarkably successful, self-contained, and self-confident president in his first term, with an opportunity for real greatness in his second term. We strongly believe he should be given that chance.
Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate
Elizabeth Warren represents the best in a tradition of liberal activists, an academic who understands the vulnerability of individuals and the urgent need for strong regulation to counter seemingly boundless corporate self-interest. She is a fierce and relentless proponent for women’s rights. Her personal history is one of hard work, achievement and grit, and she has shown that she’ll stand up to her own party’s leadership as well as to Republicans to protect the interests of average citizens.
Since campaigning as the 40th vote against the Affordable Care Act in a special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat two years ago, Scott Brown has moved within an unremarkable vector of safe, moderate positions, showing occasional vision. He is a centrist who in another political era would have been an attractive enough candidate, but not in 2012. Centrist Republican leverage has vanished, and Massachusetts needs Elizabeth Warren’s strong voice.