1. News & Issues

US Liberal Politics

Obama Won Because the 47% Matters, Diversity Matters, Caring Matters

Wednesday November 7, 2012
President Obama won reelection for two resoundingly All-American reasons:
  • People matter. The 47% matters. The quality of their lives matters. Their opportunities to pursue life, liberty, and happiness matter.
  • The rich diversity of our great nation. Diversity of ethnicity, religion, gender, and yes, sexual orientation.

In Obama's famed 2004 speech which brought him to national attention, he boldly proclaimed his core values:

"There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there's the United States of America. The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too.

"We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we've got some gay friends in the Red States."

Last night, newly reelected President Obama expressed the same vision of equality he proclaimed in 2004:

"I believe we can keep the promise of our founding -- the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or where you love -- it doesn't matter whether you're black or white, or Hispanic or Asian, or Native American, or young or old, or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight -- you can make it here in America if you're willing to try.

"I believe we can seize this future together -- because we are not as divided as our politics suggest; we're not as cynical as the pundits believe; we are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions; and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America."

Republican Mitt Romney lost this election with his closed-door sneering to millionaires and billionaires, in which he cruelly stereotyped 47% of all Americans:

"... there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.

"These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. And he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people--I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

The contrast between Obama and Romney couldn't be starker: One cares about the lives of all Americans, and desperately desires to ensure that all are afforded equal opportunities to succeed. The other, in his seemingly most authentic campaign moment, cynically dismissed 148 million Americans as lazy moochers not worth his consideration.

It's no wonder that President Obama won:

The only two demographic groups that Mr. Romney won convincingly were white men and older white women. The Republican electoral problem is this: the United States in 2012 has continued to grow in diversity. Depending almost exclusively on the white vote is now a formula for failure in national elections.

In his first term, President Obama actively demonstrated concern for American lives with specific policies and stances, not merely pretty speeches, including:

  • Health care reform, which brings the U.S. in line with all other free countries by ensuring that every citizen has access to health care services.
  • Saving and supporting the auto industry, which employs tens of millions of hardworking Americans.
  • The DREAM Act for immigrant minors, on which Obama noted "...we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents by denying them the chance to stay here and earn an education and contribute their talents to build the country where they've grown up."
  • Gay rights and same-gender marriage, including elimination of the military's ghastly "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.
  • Womens' health issues, including access to birth control, abortion, and funding for Planned Parenthood health care services.

As best as I can tell, Mitt Romney and the Republican party supported exactly none.... zero, nada, jack-squat... of the above policies that influence and change families and lives.

People matter. The 47% matters. The quality of their lives matters. Their opportunities to pursue life, liberty, and happiness matter.

Americans voted for Barack Obama because he cares about their lives, their families, their opportunities, their futures. Mitt Romney lost because he made sharply clear that he does not.

Hurricane Sandy: Romney, Ryan Policy Flaws, Uncaring Cheapness Revealed

Tuesday October 30, 2012
Federal policies matter in the lives of all Americans. That, and potential Supreme Court vacancies, are prime reasons why I voted early to reelect President Obama.

The devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy has brought into sharp focus the urgency of electing a president who stands firmly to protect middle-class and working class families, not just billionaires and millionaires.

In a nutshell, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his penny-pinching running mate Rep. Paul Ryan both have made very, very clear that they plan to:

  • Cut FEMA to the bone, by abdicating all responsibility to individual states. This cynical move would effectively eliminate emergency services in most states, which are already suffering mightily in fiscal matters.
  • Radically cut federal support for first responders, including fire fighters, police forces, and emergency responders.
  • Kill health care coverage for uninsured Americans who desperately seek medical services after catastrophes such as Hurricane Sandy.
  • Ignore climate change conditions, that most in the scientific community believe plays an major role in causing record-shattering natural disasters in recent years.

Who could possibly forget Mr. Romney's Republican convention speech when he sarcastically sneered at President Obama for his ambitious climate-change goals "to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet."

I heartily concur with Bill Clinton's comments today that "Maybe Mitt Romney shouldn't be making fun of global warming." Said the former President about Mitt Romney:

"... You remember what he did? He ridiculed the president. Ridiculed the president for his efforts to fight global warming in economically beneficial ways. He said, 'Oh, you're going to turn back the seas.'

"In my part of America, we would like it if someone could've done that yesterday. All up and down the East Coast, there are mayors, many of them Republicans, who are being told, 'You've got to move these houses back away from the ocean. You've got to lift them up. Climate change is going to raise the water levels on a permanent basis. If you want your town insured, you have to do this.' In the real world, Barack Obama's policies work better."

Federal policies matter in the lives of all Americans. Elections therefore greatly matter.

As hard as it is to believe, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan plan to strip away most policies that help American men, women, and children during life-threatening emergencies, including catastrophic natural disasters.

After the death and terrible destruction our nation just witnessed during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I honestly believe that the only credible presidential choice of ethical, clear-thinking Americans of goodwill is President Obama.

The uncaring, extremist alternative in 2012 is simply unthinkable for the future of America and Americans.

Romney's Binders of Women Reveal Dangerous Blind Spots

Thursday October 18, 2012
Mitt Romney's use of the shallow phrase "binders full of women" was unfortunate for him, but revealing for us, the U.S. electorate. It revealed a certain truth: that Gov. Romney was seeking token women for his administration. Period. Their main qualification would be gender, apparently to appease some public appearance quota. Precisely as is protocol for selecting blue-chip corporate boards of directors.

Had Mr. Romney uttered a more respectful phrase,... say, "binders of resumes from highly qualified women"... he would have reflected a more thoughtful mindset of seriously seeking out and giving voice to a group woefully underrepresented in his inner circle.

I find it disturbing enough that at age 56, after three decades in the highest echelons of American life, Mitt Romney knew of absolutely no qualified women with political aspirations.

That Mr. Romney's surrogates would select a handful of potential women candidates out of fat beauty-contest-like binders "full of women" based on God-only-knows-what criteria... well, it's condescending. Superficial. Treats women like a commodity to be acquired, not like important leaders who represent more than 50% of U.S. citizens.

Mr. Romney's quaint, 1950's-style callousness towards issues uniquely affecting women contrasts starkly with President Obama's innate understanding and support of women in 2012.

As a result, Mr. Romney's presidential chances should be hurt in certain battleground states, including:

  • Pennsylvania and North Carolina, both where women comprise a whopping 51.3% of state populations
  • Ohio, where women are 51.2% of the population
  • New Mexico, where women are 50.6% of the population
  • Iowa, where women are 50.5% of the population
  • Wisconsin, where women are 50.4% of the population

Hearing of Gov. Romney resorting to "binders full of women" to identify potential cabinet and judicial candidates from among more than 50% of the population causes me to wonder...

  • Did he also use binders to identify qualified Hispanics?
  • Qualified African-Americans? Asians?
  • Qualified gay Americans?
  • Were those binders also "full"?
  • Did he ignore those binders, concluding that their respective portions of the population were too small to warrant token representation?

There's nothing inherently wrong with a presidential candidate being surrounded with advisers of his or her choice, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

It's wrong and disrespectful, though, when a presidential candidate regards those unlike him as mere tokens, appointed to appease an "other" quota.

It's also wrong for the United States to elect as president a person who has no understanding of, curiosity about, or compassion for the majority of our country's richly diverse population. Who, instead, blithely stereotypes 47% of U.S. citizens as takers and moochers who are "unwilling to take responsibility for their lives."

Indeed, Mr. Romney's use of the phrase "binders full of women" was revealing for the American electorate. It revealed, once again, a presidential candidate with a dangerous blind spot of gigantic sinkhole proportions for the importance of anyone other than wealthy, white men, who are but a tiny minority sliver of the U.S. population in 2012.

Big Bird Matters: Obama Vulcan vs Romney Alpha-Man Debate

Thursday October 4, 2012
Call last night's political debacle in Denver the "Big Bird Debate," because the top trending Twitter terms for hours afterward were neither Romney nor Obama, but were PBS and Big Bird, Sesame Street's beloved, eight-foot yellow-feathered bird. And for very good reason.

(For those who didn't watch, Republican Romney proclaimed "I love Big Bird" while promising to pull the public-TV funding plug on Big Bird and friends.)

Frankly, given the performances by both Gov. Romney and President Obama, the post-debate Big Bird humor was, indeed, the highlight of the evening. Big Bird references were tweeted at an astonishing rate of 17,000 per minute and PBS at 10,000 tweets per minute, causing the debate to be the most tweeted U.S. political event. Ever.

This theatrical duel of wit-free words likely changed few minds, other than undecided white men. (Are there any left?) Mitt Romney was all anxious white alpha-male, reminiscent of when Al Gore took on George W. Bush in 2000: a controlling, interrupting, condescending, fact-spouting know-it-all, replete with weird, plastic smile.

One huge difference, though, between Mitt Romney in 2012 and Al Gore in 2000: Romney lied and grotesquely stretched shreds of truth. Over and over and over again. And Gov. Romney changed stances on nearly all political issues mentioned from his stated views on the campaign stump. Last night's Mitt Romney would never have won the Republican party presidential nod in 2012.

President Obama, though, persuaded no one to jump the Romney yacht for his ship. Seemingly smoldering with presidential resentment at Romney's verbal prods and pokes, Obama glared at his podium when not speaking in muted, professorial tones through gritted teeth.

To be fair to President Obama, remember that he was a mediocre debater (at best) in 2008. And as in 2008, Obama obviously continues to feel compelled to avoid the "Angry Black Man" image at all costs.

The Economist once described President Obama as retreating into a fair imitation of a Vulcan, odd Star Trek extraterrestrials "noted for their attempt to live by reason and logic with no interference from emotion." We saw Obama-Vulcan on the debate stage in Denver last night. And he likely neither hurt nor helped his 2012 presidential campaign. He was just odd.

Bottom line: The only issue of lasting voter resonance from last night's duel debate will be Big Bird. As my friend Kim Ruehl (About.com Guide to Folk Music) smartly stated at Facebook:

"I value Big Bird more than a big military. Which means I value children learning about cultural diversity more than children training for war. Period. End of story. If it comes down to cutting a program to serve what America should be, I'd say cut the war budget and invest in our children."

Pop culture matters, especially pop culture as deeply beloved as Sesame Street, a program that's spanned 43 seasons and is broadcast in more than 140 countries. That Mitt Romney wants to cut funding for Sesame Street, perhaps the most successful kids' TV program in world history, is the one debate takeaway that will be remembered by the very voters that Republicans desperately desire to reach: under-40 undecideds and those not plugged into politics.

The Twitter jokes about Big Bird, although absolutely hilarious (see below), also carry a serious cultural message that could prove lethal for Mr. Romney and the kill-joy Republicans who mainly advocate for more tax breaks for America's 1% wealthiest citizens: Mitt Romney cares so little about the 47%, he even wants to take Sesame Street away from our children!

I fully understand why last night's presidential debate was the most tweeted political event in U.S. history: Big Bird matters. And last night, Mitt Romney said he plans to terminate Big Bird.

    A Sampling of "Big Bird" Tweets from October 3, 2012
  • Romney: Soft on Wall Street, Hard on Sesame Street
  • Big Bird: Enemy of the American People
  • Occupy Sesame Street
  • Romney to Outsource Big Bird to India
  • Wait until Romney Hears about Bert and Ernie!
  • Big Bird Sandwiches Now Served at Chik-Fil-a
  • No More Government Dependency for Big Bird
  • "I love Big Bird. He is the right height."
  • "We need to see Big Bird's long-form birth certificate. Was he really born on Sesame Street?"
  • Join the Save Big Bird Campaign
  • RIP Big Bird, a Victim of Mitt Romney and Republican policies.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.