“We watched his inauguration with tears streaming down our faces. Barack Obama was the first African-American president. Raised by a single mother, he struggled to find his identity: Read “Dreams From My Father.” He was smart, he could write and he spoke in complete sentences.
The more I read about our president the more I like him. In 2004, I strolled down the street with him following his electrifying keynote address to the Democratic Convention in Boston. “Who is this guy?” I asked everyone. Soon everyone was asking. There was hope for a president who would be beholden to the American people, not the Koch brothers.
Then in 2010 came the devastating U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which allowed “political speech” reflected by millions of dollars in campaign donations through “Super Pacs.” Super-rich Democrats have hesitated to put their money where their mouths are. It’s undemocratic, many say.
Why is a super-rich person’s free speech worth so much more than 99 percent of us? “The Obama people were tutored in the context of small money. They saw the big money as corrupt,” wrote one Democratic strategist. Obama’s 2008 campaign set the bar for raising money through the Internet, appealing to ordinary people like you and me.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve clicked on the “Donate $3” to the Obama campaign button during this campaign. Ok, part of the deal is that a donation enters me into a contest to win a free trip to the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C., or a dinner with Barack and Michelle.
But it’s much more than that. I keep checking Nate Silver’s 538.com to remind myself that the super-accurate non-political statistician predicts that Obama has a 70 percent chance of winning.
I’m an optimist but I fear for our country, perhaps more than ever before, if Obama doesn’t win a second term. I believe that quiet, reasonable people will vote rationally. But still. This summer, driving by a tiny house with a disheveled yard in Bass Harbor, Maine, I was aghast at the Romney signs. What the hell did these people think Romney would do for them?
Obama cares. “Working as a community organizer in a struggling Chicago neighborhood, a young Barack Obama concluded that to make a real difference, he needed to gain political power” (NYTimes Magazine, Aug. 19, 2012). That’s why he went to Harvard Law School; that’s why he went into politics in the first place.
William Julius Wilson, a Harvard sociologist, has noted that “Obama had done more for lower-income Americans than any president since Lyndon Johnson.” And that’s with a do-nothing Congress.
Remember Obama’s superb speech on race during the 2008 presidential campaign? He had hoped that the American people could work together, which he expressed in his 2004 keynote convention speech and during the 2008 presidential campaign. But since day one of his presidency he’s been thwarted by those — many of whom I believe are deep-down racists — who will do anything to defeat him.
So here’s the choice: a shameful Romney pandering to the basest greed and selfishness of the super-rich, or the reelection of a president who’s always worked for the betterment of us all.