The President had something of a bad month last month. Now that Mitt Romney is assured the nomination, all the funding is behind him. Last month, for the first time so far, Romney raised more campaign money than the President.
Please note that I have not endorsed anyone. I have opinions about issues and policies, and I support the person who will enact the policies I deem most important to the presidency. I do not know either man, and cannot endorse them personally. That being said, let me talk this week about why the president is going to have trouble raising money, even among those who will likely vote for him.
Mr Romney doesn’t have a solid policy on many issues. This is, in part, because he is focused on a few things he think will make the most difference, or at least mark the biggest difference between himself and the president. Mr Romney wants lower taxes on the rich, and to cut back on spending for domestic programs like Welfare and Medicaid, while advancing the rights of Corporate-Americans (those “people” brought into existence by means of a legal charter) to exploit natural, public resources for private profit. I think my wording might show some bias, but this is my feeling on the issue.
President Obama, on the other hand, also seems to have a messaging issue. He can’t talk about what he would do if he were president, as it only begs the question why he hasn’t done it already*. He is, admittedly, going to have a hard time running on his record if one of the biggest things he has accomplished (Healthcare Reform) is struck down by the Supreme Court. Sadly, it seems as though a lot of Mr. Obama’s message is going to have to come by way of “promises attempted or in progress” and “I’m the lesser evil” kinds of ads.
The President can say that he did some amazing, if controversial things in the areas of LGBT rights, women’s health issues, ending formal military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, these are seen as divisive issues. He made some real attempts on many other issues that couldn’t get through congress. It is my opinion that he’s also made some big mistakes in the areas of civil liberties, human rights, privacy and intellectual property, and in keeping private “security” firms on the tax roll to do work that the Armed Forces should do, if the work really needs to be done.
This makes it hard for me to see him running successfully on his record alone. Sure, his victories will fire up the base, but will the collection be enough to win over the swing voters, who will go issue by issue? This leaves the campaign struggling to tell us why, even if we shouldn’t love the President, we should dislike his opponent. And it looks like they are afraid to just say it.
I’ve read some pundits, such as Ezra Klein, positing that the hurdle in attacking Romney on his political and corporate past is doing so without alienating big donors and political insiders. The problem is rooted in the fact that the biggest differences in the President and Mr Romney are their upbringing and their lives before politics. Politically, they both have a record that, 40 years ago, would have been seen as pretty moderate. Heck, even their biggest political accomplishment is, in both cases, Healthcare reform plans, one modeled on the other. So we are left with the fact that Romney comes from a family with money, and worked in the private sector in finance and equity. The President will have the same headaches attacking Bain Capital, which Mr Romney helped found, that he had in trying to talk about reforms for Wall Street: you don’t bite the hand that feeds you, and those are the people with money.
My advise, which I don’t expect anyone as high up the chain as regional campaign office coffee jockey to read, is that the President needs to appeal to the American people to take this election back. He needs to say that he’s going to piss off investment firms and all of Wall Street if that’s what it takes to make his point, and that the American public needs to look past the money and into the message if they want real change. That’s our best hope at reviving the American Dream for those of us who don’t have 5 million to leave to our kids. That’s how you get the middle class on your side: Stop playing the game under the rules set by the top 10%, and play with the rest of us. Inspire us again, Mr President. We are looking for leadership, and neither candidate is offering it, yet.
* Incidently, this is a strategy that worked for George W. Bush when he ran for reelection. He made a lot of speeches about what he would do if given a second term, and very few people seemed to care that he had already been given 3 years to do those things. Arguably, the “War on Terror” had distracted him for a while, but even there, he dropped many of the claims he had made about why that war was important when it came time to run again.