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 I believe should exist between being an objective political analyst and an impassioned voter. This presidential election I am tearing down that rigid 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 two compelling reasons: Obama's record and promise, and Romney's record and danger.
First, there's Romney record and the danger. 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 his 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 fossil 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.
This can also be added to the senior Romney adviser's action list after his day one. With a freshly energized Tea Party, ultra-conservatives and Christian evangelicals providing strong headwind for Romney, he will wink and nod at the renewed assault on affirmative action, voting rights and equal opportunity employment laws, the mounting full-force attack on abortion and women's rights (including equal pay), and labor union protections.
The most damaging longer-term consequence of a Romney White House will be the chance he has to appoint one, possibly two, Supreme Court justices. They will not be the crude, boisterous, take no prisoners ideologues of the Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas ilk. That would spark a storm of howls and outcry from many Senate Democrats, civil rights and civil liberties 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, power, and renewed efforts to rollback environmental and labor union protections, civil rights, liberties and women's rights. Their rulings would encode in public policy law and public policy for years, perhaps decades to come their strict constructionist, neo-medieval, state's rights interpretation of constitutional law. The near decade of Reagan's rule gave horrific warning of what America looked like after Reagan imposed his vision on American law and public policy.
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 goal were to make Obama a one-term president. He meant what he said. Yet despite his solemn vow backed up by relentless GOP congressional obstructionism, barriers, carping at, and deliberate subversion of Obama's initiatives and legislation, his record has been a productive and perfectly defensible record. It kept the focus on these crucial make-or-break election issues, the economy and health care, and then, 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, with unemployment down, with most economic indicators indicating 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 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 them through 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. Also, countless defense experts and those in the defense establishment have been absolutely unequivocal that the phased in military reductions Obama in tandem with the Defense Department have projected over the next decade will not weaken America's strength and ability to respond to a crisis.
He inherited two flawed and costly wars. He ended one and is the process of winding the other one down. Meanwhile, his challenger has not had to make one tough policy decision after another about the budget, taxes, jobs, the military and defense, and foreign policy. 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 pithy, facile 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 the 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. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard weekly on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.