In 40-plus years of political observing, analysis, watching, and of course voting, I have never publicly endorsed a presidential candidate.
I have zealously maintained the hard firewall that should exist between being an objective political analyst and an impassioned voter. This presidential election I am tearing down that firewall.
I am publicly and unequivocally saying: President Obama is our only choice. I don’t say this out of political partisanship, sentimentality, or blind racial loyalty. I say it for these compelling reasons: Obama’s record and its promise, and Romney’s record and its danger.
First, there’s Romney record. His administration will not be Bush II as some fear. It will be more akin to Reagan II. He will govern from the right center. But it’s the right part of it that’s lethal. There’s no guesswork about how lethal it will be.
A senior Romney adviser ticked off what Romney will do as early as day one in the White House. He will further bloat military spending, potentially ignite a tariff and trade war with China, give even more of the company store away to the environmental damaging oil, coal and gas industries, radically expand school choice that guts spending on public education, hack away the feeble and haphazardly enforced bank and financial industry regulations, torpedo the Affordable Care Act, and shave taxes for corporations and the super-rich even more.
The most damaging consequence of a Romney White House will be the chance he has to appoint one, possibly two, Supreme Court justices. They will not be of the Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas ilk. That would spark a storm of howls and outcry from many Senate Democrats, Civil Rights and women’s groups.
He will nominate slicker, younger, more polished ultraconservatives in the mold of Samuel Alito and John Roberts. This makes his court nominees even more dangerous. They would likely be confirmed with little fuss, and insure a decade of wildly unrestrained expansion of corporate abuses and renewed efforts to roll back environmental protections and Civil Rights.
Contrast this with President Obama’s record and the promise that it still holds for America. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell famously stated that his and the GOP’s goals were to make Obama a one-term president. He meant what he said.
Yet despite relentless GOP congressional obstructionism, Obama’s record of initiatives and legislation have been productive and perfectly defensible.
It kept the focus on these crucial make-or-break election issues: the economy, health care and his handling of foreign policy. Obama did not need to keep reminding Americans that he took over a mess from George W. Bush and had to fight to clean that up for three years. That was a given.
Despite the towering problems, what was admirable is that there are clear signs of economic rebound. Unemployment is down, most economic indicators show slow but positive growth and the administration has proposed measures to reduce the deficit without putting at mortal risk Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Every credible health care study has confirmed that his Affordable Care Act has provided coverage for millions that wouldn’t have had a prayer of getting affordable or any kind of health care coverage. This alone would raise costs by tens of billions for the middle class who would have to foot the tax bill for jam-packed emergency care rooms in public hospitals.
Obama’s relations with Russia and the European allies, and, most importantly, his outreach to the Muslim world, have been amazingly fruitful. They have brought peace, stability and healthy relations with European allies and a cooperative relation with the Russians.
He has kept the line of dialogue open between the Palestinians and Israelis, and he did this without weakening U.S. and Israeli relations. His much maligned outreach to the Muslim world is the best guarantee of America’s defense and security. The GOP’s effort to smear him for the Benghazi attack and the Cairo protests have not detracted from his long range balanced approach to relations with the Muslim world.
He inherited two flawed and costly wars. He ended one and is in the process of winding the other one down. This is a record that is solid and not based on inflated promises his challenger makes that border on a snake-oil sell.
We can take digs at Obama for the past three years about his alleged broken promises, not living up to his hope and change, and not being the full-throated progressive reformer that many hoped he would be.
We can wish he had said and done more publicly during his first term about staggeringly high black unemployment, stronger Civil Rights and civil liberties protections, and immigration reform. But that ignores the barriers, constraints and ferocious competing interests that anyone who sits in the Oval Office must balance. He has accomplished that task with skill, dignity and grace. President Obama is our only choice.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.