Though nothing is certain in this world – least of all where politics is concerned – things are nonetheless looking positive for President Obama, in his bid to become a two term president.
It was a close election at outset. The economy has been weak, employment low, and the sweeping changes many hoped Obama would beckon in have failed to materialise. (Of course, that’s not so much been his fault as it has been Congressional Republicans stalling and playing politics with the nation’s wellbeing.)* Either way, Obama’s standing suffered.
Luckily for the President though, the Democratic National Convention was a resounding success. Bill Clinton rallied to his aid with a fantastic speech – I’ve not seen someone put complicated, policy heavy issues into such simple language in a long time – and their was an emotional level to it all. It stirred up the sort of feelings a progressive leader has to. It reminded people what they stood to lose if the Republicans took back the White House. And it promised, if not quite the same level of hope for the future as the 2008 campaign had, something better, something positive and asked you to join and follow the cause.
The Romney campaign meanwhile, has been pretty disastrous. Stuck between trying to appeal to moderates and independent voters, whilst also having to keep the cranks and crazies happy, the Romney campaign has lacked any such focus and drive. Indeed, Romney’s key electoral pledges rank more like wishy-washy school kid policies rather than a genuine set of promises a man trying to become leader of the free world would commit to. End of the day; ‘We’re not Obama’ is basically the Romney-Ryan slogan – which might, just might have worked, had the DNC not proved to be such a moment of unity. And might, just might have worked if Romney’s own party was not in such utter shambolic mood.
Other factors have helped, such as Romney’s 47% gaffe and a greater level of funding heading into the Obama campaign since the DNC. But the fact that this is a Democratic party with a shared view, and a shared goal – even if it’s only to keep the cranks and crazies out of power for another four years – and it’s that which is making the difference count right now. And who knows, with a congress that could well be behind him this time, Obama might just be able to deliver on the hopes of 2008.
A long way to go, and nothing is certain. Romney’s camp may still pull itself together and the Democrats may yet become their own worst enemy. But the signs from across the pond are positive right now. Long may it continue.
* Side note:
Whilst the stalling of policy by congress may have been beyond his control, Obama has suffered from the all too common plight of many a left-wing politician – compromise syndrome.
It’s a common malady we on the left are afflicted by. We seek compromise, avoid confrontation, demand (politely of course) that everyone have the right to their views – even when we disagree with them vehemently. Then there’s the tendency to consult focus groups, hold discussions, reach a consensus before acting… Ed Miliband take note. When it comes to ‘leadership’, that most elusive of political traits, it’s a matter of setting your sight on a goal and then pushing on. It doesn’t matter if it’s not what everyone wants, if enough people want close enough to it, they’ll join you, and follow you on to it. That’s why the electorate ultimately fall for people like Thatcher and Blair – or in the states, Reagan and Truman. They may not have been the greatest policy wonks our respective countries have ever seen (far from it). But they had a vision and pursued it. ‘I may not agree with what they stand for, but I respect them for standing for something.’ being the sort of thing you’d hear about such people.
Side note over.