[Please visit 90Days90Reasons.net.]
This time the bumper stickers are few. The HOPE posters are hard to find. There are no songs by will.i.am.
We are three months away from the presidential election, and there is a stunning lack of energy displayed by likely Obama voters.
Some who voted for Obama are disappointed in decisions he’s made, things he hasn’t done. And so millions of voters, the same ones who campaigned so fervently for Obama in 2008—the same ones who achieved history by not only overturning eight years of disastrous Republican leadership, but by electing the first African-American president—these same voters are collectively looking at this election and thinking, “I’ll sit this one out.”
And until a few weeks ago, we were more or less in this camp, too. We had attended no rallies, donated no funds. No one we knew had. Everyone—no matter how inspired they were in 2008—was watching from the sidelines.
Then we had a revelation, which sounds less like a revelation and more like a plainly obvious reality: if this doesn’t become an all-hands-on-deck movement to re-elect President Obama, he will lose. And Mitt Romney, who has campaigned as the most conservative Republican candidate in history, will become president.
If ever there were a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face, it is this. Millions of progressive Americans, who brought Obama into office on a grass-roots wave of hope and idealism and the belief in the possibility of change, are now behaving as if, because Obama hasn’t addressed their particular pet issue, that the best way to express their dissatisfaction is to allow Mitt Romney to become president.
To sum up: We plan to punish President Obama by electing an arch-conservative to rule the most powerful nation on Earth. This is the logic out there.
Recent history has provided a lesson in what happens if the Democratic base decides not to participate fully in the outcome of a presidential election. Remember 2000? Various pundits convinced millions of likely voters that there was no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Ralph Nader was most successful in spreading this specious philosophy, and he garnered 2.74% of the popular vote. Most of these 2.74% were likely Gore voters.
The results were cataclysmic. In a year where a few thousand votes would have swung the election, George W. Bush was elected. Within two years, he had started two wars. These wars cost 137,000 civilian lives, 6,419 American soldiers’ lives (4,488 in Iraq and 1,931 in Afghanistan), cost upwards of $4 trillion, and put the country $15,904,628,648,096 in debt. He put together the most conservative Supreme Court in American history, and the world was thrown into the worst global recession in 79 years.
These results would seem to imply that it does indeed matter who sits in the White House. There is a chasmic difference between the priorities and leadership of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. There is a chasmic difference in their outlook, in their intellect, in their ability to represent the U.S. abroad and to understand the plight of the 99% at home.
Republican leadership is not better for the economy than Democratic leadership. Bill Clinton brought the country eight years of peace and eight years of prosperity. George W. Bush brought two wars, crippling recession, and engendered a tangible, unshakeable feeling of national malaise. Two wars and a recession will do it every time.
President Obama inherited all this. And he’s done a very good job of trying to get us out of the hole Republican leadership put us in. The economy is in better shape now than it was in 2008—that is beyond debate. He ended the war in Iraq and he’s nearly finished our role in Afghanistan. And he accomplished what Bush’s two wars were meant to do: he removed the threat of Osama bin Laden. He has made great strides in access to healthcare and higher education, in protecting the environment, in gay rights and women’s rights… The list goes on. And this list is the purpose of 90 Days, 90 Reasons.
This initiative will provide daily reasons—concrete, factual, plain—to re-elect Barack Obama, and will also provide likely outcomes of a Romney presidency. Articulating these reasons will be a wide range of well-known Americans, their ranks proving that there is, indeed, a growing movement that acknowledges not only that Obama needs four more years, but that we actually need to participate to make it happen. Romney’s poll numbers are neck and neck with Obama’s, and the Republican party has raised and will continue to raise more money than Obama will or can. The only chance Obama has to win is if we can harness the same populist enthusiasm we did when we made history in 2008.
It’s okay to believe again. It’s time to believe again. We must believe again.