Hope Requires Change

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

America faces a stark choice for this Presidential election.  Despite third party groups who choose to paint the contrast between the Republicans and Democrats as two versions of the same flavor, there is perhaps a difference in philosophy between these choices that is greater than any election since 1980, and possibly even since 1972.  In many ways this contest has been ongoing for four full years.  Such is the nature of campaigns these days.  Tuesday, it is again time to choose.

Americans do not vote against incumbent Presidents easily.  In the last 50 years only two have lost a re-election bid.  We are a nation that likes to criticize, but often still prefers the known status quo to the fear of the unknown.  As too many corporate management consultants are overpaid to say, “we fear change”.

Yet with the backdrop of the housing market collapse and interconnected banking turmoil of four years ago, change was not only desired but demanded.  Along with it, we were given the promise of hope.  The two words coupled together were enough to capture the imagination of a fearful public who had no idea what problems were ahead of them.  They were delivered by a reassuring telegenic messenger – A fresh face who offered stark contrast of the status quo which had failed so dramatically and abruptly.  The American people embraced the idea of change.

We were short changed.

The President who promised to bring the parties together summoned Republican leaders for a bi-partisan photo op outside the white house early in his Presidency.  When one spoke up to offer a contribution, the President responded on camera with a dismissive “I won”.  It was but one of many early signals that the rhetoric of the campaign would not reflect how this President would govern.

Instead of working together the President remained distant and alone.  Bob Woodward, who has chronicled the inner workings of virtually every administration since Watergate writes in his new book the amazing distance President Obama has between himself and members of Congress from both parties.  His dramatic rise through political ranks left him little time to forge the friendships and alliances that may be unseemly to some who reject the notion of any backroom dealing, but are in reality quite critical to the way Washington works.

His challenger, by contrast, was Governor of the most Democratic state in the country.  He has been an executive in government, corporate, and non-profit settings.  He understands that speeches filled with hope and idealism are nice, but unless there is a tactical and realistic way to implement those ideas, as well as metrics to gage their success, then words are, in fact, just words.

The President, whose actual record is in stark contrast to the promises made as a candidate and during his first year, has instead chosen to abandon hope and change for an attempt to characterize Mitt Romney as someone who is aloof and out of touch.  Romney, in response, spent most of the early part of his campaign – including the critical infomercial that is what political conventions have become – to sell himself as a person instead of focusing on his agenda.

The debates, written off by many pundits as events that no longer matter, allowed the candidates to face off and for once, revealed much of their contrast in style and substance.  In the first debate, voters were able to see a candidate who has had to sell his ideas to investors, legislators of opposing parties, and taxpayers.  They were also able to see the response from a President whose career has been one of speeches filled with lofty rhetoric but often lacking in substance.  One who has been surrounded by a bubble of yes-men for four years who seems out of practice with having genuine conversations with those who disagree.

Whichever of these men is chosen to serve our country for the next four years will face a daunting challenge of moving a legislative agenda through a hyper-partisan Congress while facing the will of a sharply divided electorate.  With the challenges we face, however, we cannot afford four more years of gridlock.

I will be voting for the person whose experience in bringing together those of opposite parties extends beyond speeches and into actual experience demonstrated in the Governor’s Mansion in Massachusetts.  Mitt Romney is my version of hope and change.


  1. Well that didn’t take long. In 2004 George Bush squeaked out the tiniest margin imaginable, proclaimed a mandate and political capital and Republicans cheered him on.

    In 2008, Obama won a landslide, captured 59+ seats in the Senate, a huge majority in the House, and Republicans said “our top priority is to defeat this President.”

    Some hope!

    • Charlie says:

      A little revisionist history there Chris? Didn’t that quote come from Minority Leader McConnell after the 2010 elections? Which was after two years of the Democrats with sole control over Congress and the White House?

      The “I won” comment mattered. Retroactively trying to pretend that the 09-10 Democrats tried to work with Republicans is silly, though I can understand why you need to try to revise it now. Good luck with that.

      • Charlie, please. In 2009 Mitt Romney went on TV and advised Obama to try to pass a bill like he had passed in Mass for healthcare. Mitt Romney said that was the kind of bill he thought Republicans could be for.

        Obama did just that. No Republicans voted for or seriously tried to compromise on MITT ROMNEY’s bill.

        Keep smoking the pipe though.

        • Charlie says:

          Republicans in Congress were kept as far from that bill as they could be. Or perhaps you were out smoking a pipe when they were told they had to pass it to see what was in it?

          • Progressive Dem says:

            Romney has already given up on the right-wing agenda. he knows its a loser. He denies his previous position on the auto bailout. He repudiated the neo-con foreign policy and said the last thing we need is another Iraq. (Love to hear Dick Cheny reaction.) Instead he was full of “me too’s” on Obama’s foreign policy. If Ayn Rand is so hot, why aren’t we hearing about Paul Rand’s budget? Why aren’t we hearing any details on Romney’s tax plans? Because that dog don’t hunt. We’re down to crunch time, and he is busy hiding the crazy relatives. The reactionaries elected in 2010 were an aberation, not a trend.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Bush isn’t exactly one of my all-time favorite Presidents, in fact he’s far from it, but his 2004 re-election victory in which he won by over 3 million votes and earned over 62 million votes total, which at the time was the most votes that had been received by any candidate in American history (until Obama’s 69.5 million in 2008 when his opponent, Senator John McCain received the 3rd-most number of votes in American history), was not exactly “the tiniest margin imaginable”.

  2. Three Jack says:

    I agree with most of the column Charlie, but still cannot trust Mitt based on his record of changing direction with every new election cycle. He has done an excellent job during the debates winning all 3 by simply acting like an intelligent, respectable candidate while laying out in broad terms what he hopes to accomplish. In so doing, he forced the president to play defense which is obviously not something Obama does well.

    While I have had second thoughts about my vote based on Mitt’s most recent actions, I have decided for the first time since I became eligible to vote that I will not vote for the Republican nominee. Instead I will vote for Gary Johnson. Mitt has Georgia in the bag, why not support the candidate who most reflects my fiscal beliefs and hopefully gets enough support so that the next Libertarian candidate will be included in the debate process.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      I can’t disagree with your sentiments about the good governor of Massachusetts and I can’t disagree with you voting Libertarian, though I still think that with all of his obvious faults, Romney is by far the much lesser of the two evils (though still somewhat inherently evil with his creation of Romneycare as Governor of MA which served as “the inspiration” for Obamacare) when compared to Obama, who is the devil incarnate himself and should have never been allowed within 1,000 miles of the White House, especially when it comes to the economy (Obamanomics), the entitlement culture and the vast overreaching expansion of government (Obamacare, which expands the power of the I.R.S. by 600-plus new agents).

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Mitt changing direction with every new election cycle?

      Mitt is subject to change direction with every news cycle.

  3. caroline says:

    I think it’s all a moot point anyway. Obama has enough EC votes right now to win even if Romney gets FL, NC, VA, CO etc.

    • Three Jack says:

      Really caroline? Your math doesn’t add up because it’s a dead heat in most battleground states with today’s Battleground poll showing Romney with an advantage if you look deep into the stats. Romney is going to win and I think pretty easily including OH, WI, NH, NC, FL, VA, IA, CO, NV and maybe even PA.

      • caroline says:

        Going by the RCP average Obama has a lead of 1.9 in Ohio.

        Even RCP with no toss up states has Obama at 290. The GOP is at a disadvantage in the electoral college. The most the GOP has gotten in EV in the last 24 years is 286 back in 2004. The GOP is at a disadvantage when it comes to the EC and Romney is going to have to pull an inside straight to win. Sorry you don’t like it but them’s the facts.

        And now with more TP people making more statements that turn even more voters off–well, I’ve never seen a group of people so willingly trash a presidential candidates dreams.

        • Three Jack says:

          The RCP average is great if you don’t seek details. If you look further into polls you will find most slanted to ‘D’ by a factor of 4% – 9% based on 2008 data. No way Obama has the same ‘wow’ factor he did 4 years ago, so most polls are flawed yet still show it a dead heat. Therefore it can be safely predicted that Romney will win by a comfortable margin in the popular vote with the EC tighter, but leaning his way.

          And this is not false optimism on my part because I am not a Romney fan as stated earlier. This is simply my read of the current climate. I think Romney wins fairly easily unless Obama has something up his sleeve to release this week.

          • caroline says:

            Okay. So you’re now engaged in fantasy “adjusting of polls” to get them to give you the results that you want? No poll is perfect but you have no evidence that the turnout model is wrong you’re just thinking that it’s wrong based on 2008. What you also are not accounting for is the fact that Republican voters are dying off and are not being replaced with younger voters. The demographics are very much against the GOP.

            Actually thinking Romney wins “fairly easily” just goes against what you said previously about the polls being tied. At best Romney can win in a squeaker. There is not going to be comfortable wins for the GOP for quite a while and only after the party has “rebranded’ itself because the brand has been trashed.

            • Dave Bearse says:

              “There is not going to be comfortable wins for the GOP for quite a while and only after the party has “rebranded’ itself because the brand has been trashed.”

              The GOP will likely be beyond “rebranding” for an extended period should Mitt win and implement GOP budget policy. Mitt implementing any particular policy is uncertain though, because Mitt’s policies change depending on the audience he’s appealing to.

              The austerity championed by the GOP, and that the GOP has admired in Britain, have driven the British economy into recession. GOP austerity in the US will likely drive the US and the world into recession, which would indeliably brand the GOP for an extended period.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            “I think Romney wins fairly easily unless Obama has something up his sleeve to release this week.”

            …You mean something like the hurricane/mega-nor’easter/flood/blizzard/superstorm/natural disaster that is hitting the heavily-populated Boston-NYC-NJ-Phila-Balt-DC Northeastern Corridor right now as we speak?

            I hope that this storm doesn’t let Obama off-the-hook and allow him to escape the increasingly certain political doom that he was destined to face in a little over a week.

          • Hey what if I told you that a larger % of black voters have voted early than in 2008 in Georgia, and a smaller percentage of white voters.

            Does that make you go “WOW”?

      • caroline says:

        PA is a fantasy. There’s no polling that shows Romeny anywhere near getting PA. The GOP lost PA pretty much for good back in 1992 along with a lot of other states.

          • caroline says:

            Obama +5 and +6 in the most recent polls make it a toss up? I don’t think so.

            Actually if the GOP had gone with a moderate candidate and not had one that had to espouse all this crazy stuff during the primary they might be not having such a hard time.

            • Three Jack says:

              You never change caroline. Mitt is the ‘moderate’ candidate, geez…it don’t get more moderate than Mitt. The GOP lost voters like me because they keep putting forth moderate candidates at every level. If you seek moderation, Mitt is your man.

              Go argue with your trusted polling source RCP, not me. I relayed the fact from the source you cited. If it is incorrect, then maybe you should find more reliable sources of information.

              • caroline says:

                Well, I actually agree that Mitt was a moderate as governor of MA but he was not allowed to be Moderate Mitt of MA to get out of the GOP primary. He was spouting the same crazy stuff Perry of Texas was saying.

                Well, the GOP base is out of touch with the center of American politics. So yeah, I can see what you are saying about losing voters like you but if a candidate you liked won the primary you probably would be looking at an Obama landslide.

  4. gcp says:

    Heard someone say recently that he was voting for a president (Romney), not an idea (Johnson). Although I am closer to Johnson philosophically, I will also vote for Wilbur Mitt but reserve the right to constantly criticize Romney and the Repubs.

  5. Samuel says:

    I guess President Gerald Ford’s loss in 1976 didn’t qualify as an incumbent’s loss because …?

    If it did count, then we had 3 incumbent Presidents lose within 16 years which is highly indicative of an irritable eleorate.

  6. Spacey G says:

    Dear Goddess:
    Hear my prayer. Help me be a better person. Because if I’m not a good person I will go to Hell. And Hell is a place where there’s a looped recording of Harper and Huttman nattering back and forth. For eternity.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      You’re going to Hell?

      …Are you trying to say that you want to run for Congress?

  7. In the last fifty years, THREE incumbent presidents were not reelected – Ford, Carter, and Bush I. Not sure how you came up with two unless Ford doesn’t count as a real president since he was never “elected” in the first place.

    During the last fifty years we’ve had only ten presidents. Three out of ten is 33% – not counting for Johnson who didn’t run for the last term he would have been eligible for, and likely would have lost if he had.

    In the last forty years we’ve had eight presidents. Three of the eight weren’t reelected, which is over 37%. Seems like the odds of an incumbent not being reelected aren’t too bad.

    — LU

Comments are closed.