Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The election storm

Labor Day has traditionally been the point when most voters begin to pay attention to campaigns aimed at Election Day in November. Not this year.

The serious campaigning began much earlier. In an unprecedented calculus, the campaign to unseat President Barack Obama began four years ago. Just nine days after Obama was sworn into office, Republican leaders agreed to try to stop any and all legislation that might help his re-election chances. This launched a never-ending campaign that destroyed bi-partisanship throughout Obama’s term.

The Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United opened the floodgates for this election, the first one to cost more than a billion dollars and the first in which a sitting president will be outspent by his opponent. The money being poured into messaging by uber-wealthy donors carries disturbing implications for the future of democratic elections. More disturbing, however, is the bitterness of what passes for campaign rhetoric.

Opposing candidates always try to create a negative image of their opponent. It is not without precedent nor is it illegitimate that Obama’s challengers are attempting to make this election about him. The dark side is the ongoing implication that he has no right to be president. 

Obama has been painted as a foreigner, not a real American, someone who will never be one of us. He has been painted as outside the norm as president, despite a long line of people like himself—lawyers, Ivy League scholars and former senators—who have held the highest office.

In the final days of the campaign, incredible amounts of money will be spent telling us that the president is dangerous and that he hates America. It’s a free country and people can believe whatever they choose. But the fact is that President Obama loves this country just like challenger Mitt Romney.

In the fall’s election storm, it’s something every American should recognize.


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