In this issue, we at Creative Loafing present our endorsements for the crucial Nov. 6 elections. John Grooms and Mike Cooper offer their picks for several local, regional and national races. Here, I'd like to talk about why it's essential that we re-elect President Barack Hussein Obama.
Sure, we wish President Obama had been the Magic Man, the Ziggy Stardust of chief executives, the Christ-like figure who walked into the Oval Office on water and turned raindrops into gold. Isn't that what conservatives said we expected him to do? According to them, we were so seduced by this smooth-talking politician that we thought he would eradicate all racism, xenophobia and other forms of hate and intolerance; make all religions get along; inspire the rich to give all their extra cash to the poor; miraculously fix the economy, cure cancer, AIDS and Hep C; reverse global warming and create an environment in which the world would live forever in peace and harmony, amen.
Guess what? We didn't really expect that. We kind of knew President Obama wasn't a super hero. In reality, we've settled for his human successes, which have been numerous.
Let's start from the beginning: late 2008, one of the lowest points in this nation's history. After about eight years of irresponsible spending and massive losses of American lives in misguided wars that ran counter to public opinion, the previous administration — a Republican rogues gallery of neo-conservatives — had left the United States of America in financial straits and the U.S. military in quicksand-like wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President George W. Bush had not even achieved his one major objective since 2001: the capture of Osama bin Laden, whose al-Qaeda goons had attacked the U.S. on its own soil, killing 3,000 Americans. What the Bush administration and its Republican yea-sayers did accomplish in all those years was to continuously and incessantly nurture a culture of greed that culminated in the collapse of the economy, massive federal deficits, and a culture of fear that led to losses of basic American rights and unprecedented torture policies. By the end of its two terms, the Republican Bush administration had transformed the U.S.A. into a global laughingstock.
In 2008, voters demanded that the Republicans hand the reins of a severely enfeebled America over to 47-year-old Barack Obama, who proceeded to slowly but methodically turn this Titanic of a nation away from unspeakable calamity. In his first year, President Obama's $787 billion stimulus began to reverse job losses in the U.S., and since June 2009 some 3.6 million private-sector jobs have been created, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. The following year, Obama's Wall Street reforms restricted predatory lending and other manipulative maneuvers that had led to the 2008 crash. Also in 2010, by revamping the student loan system, the Obama administration made it less expensive for students to seek higher education and easier to pay back loans — even in the face of powerful Republican resistance, including opposition from the president's current challenger, Mitt Romney.
Most significantly, the Obama administration achieved in 2010 what no Democratic administration had been able to accomplish in 75 years of trying — massively overhauling an outdated health care system. Though far from perfect, the Affordable Care Act means Americans who were not previously insured are now able to get health insurance — and it means American lives have been saved, including the life of CL columnist and former editor in chief, John Grooms. That's how close to home this stuff hits — and it hits every other American as closely, even those who oppose the president.
Finally, in spring of last year, the president did what his predecessor could not do in his entire term: President Obama carefully and deliberately sent a team of Navy SEALs in to kill Osama bin Laden. The world's bête noire, who had spread fear and chaos across the globe, was silenced and his band of terrorists emasculated.
President Obama, with an effective mix of intelligence, acuity and compassion, has been able to calmly and coolly steer this nation back on track. Has he been perfect? No. To some, including myself and a few CL colleagues and columnists, he has been too willing to bend over for banks and other corporations. He hasn't stood up to his bully adversaries in Congress. He hasn't achieved some of the environmental advances he promised. He's been more of a war-monger than many of us expected, pursuing the use of drones and failing to right the wrongs of Guantanamo. But the president came into office facing challenges most of us could never conceive of, much less effectively tackle.
Could Mitt Romney continue many of Obama's successes without taking us back to the dark and dismal Bush years? Maybe. In the past, Romney's ideas on health care were very similar to those of Obama. Moreover, Romney is a businessman who understands economics. However, there are at least two Romneys, and we haven't seen the Moderate Mitt during the current election. The one we've seen has taken a hard turn to the right, has talked of tax breaks for the rich and promoted the kind of privatizing that landed this country in economic hot water in the first place. The bottom line: We really don't know the real Mitt Romney.
We do know who President Obama is. We know his successes far outweigh his failures, his moral compass has thus far taken us in the right directions on the vast majority of issues; we know his character, integrity and sense of justice are ... well, very presidential. Ultimately, the flawed but honorable qualities we've seen in President Obama are all we could hope for from any candidate — and much more than we've seen in his challenger.