I'm a story teller. And I keep thinking about the life stories of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. In some ways, both are right out of the American storybook. Of course, some of the details would indicate that the truth can be bent.
One of them, more or less ignoring the true circumstances of his birth, generally chooses for the purposes of this election to begin his story in his early 20s, where he speaks of being more or less broke, that is to say without much money, more or less, and meets the love of his life, who he marries, and together they sail into the future on a shoestring, more or less.
This candidate starts an investment firm, Bain Capital, for which he and his partner raise $25,000,000, on top of the $10,000,000, more or less, they invest personally. The half of $10,000,000 our candidate invests comes from somewhere, could be his parents, we're never told, but he goes on to make a truly great success, nonetheless, buying and selling companies without the need to actually develop or originate anything -- a monument, more or less and nonetheless, to the free enterprise system, and a nest egg for his family of hundreds of millions of dollars, more or less.
Our second candidate was born to a white woman in Hawaii, fathered by a black man from Kenya, raised in part by Midwestern grandparents, who gave him a reasonably happy childhood. He started college, jumped to the Ivy League at Columbia. And then he took a job as a community organizer, about as far as you can get from the fast track to financial success, much less the White House.
After a few years he made it to law school at Harvard, where he was the first black editor of its Law Review. Along the way he met and married another successful black attorney. He worked as a lawyer and helped register voters. And he worked hard at getting elected to the state legislature and then to the U.S. Senate. And then, in spite of the extraordinary odds against it, he ran for the presidency -- and won!
So which of these stories is a better illustration of the American Dream? A privileged white guy, son of a governor, with a talent for making money? Or the guy with black skin and a white single mother, with a name like Barack Hussein Obama, who became president only after winning a hard-fought primary against an accomplished Senator and former First Lady and a general election against a decorated war hero? How's that for a story? How's that for the American Dream in action?
There's more to the Barack Obama story, of course. There's the fact that he generates excitement and small donations from a huge number of Americans -- while the other candidate relies on Supreme Court decisions that put the presidency and many other offices on the auction block. There's the fact that he entrusted his opponent in the bitterly fought primary with one of the most important jobs in his administration -- and the world. There's the fact that he took over as leader of the free world just as the financial underpinnings of the world economy were collapsing in on themselves -- and is presiding over a slow, steady return to better days.
America, nation of immigrants, is increasingly diverse in many ways. Mitt Romney stands in the way of a generation of DREAMers, and, along with his supporters, seems to be desperately fighting the story of America's future. But the future is coming, and Barack Obama will best lead us there.
I believe the results on Tuesday will show that the American people, in the end, managed to sort out the two stories and was drawn to the one that seemed truer and more consistent with the American Dream.