THE BLOG
10/16/2012 12:34 pm ET Updated Dec 16, 2012

Obama or Romney -- Does It Matter?

The Obamaphiles are apoplectic. Perhaps they don't quite smell it yet, but on the back of their tongues they taste defeat. They're bewildered. How could "the people we've been waiting for," turn out to be the people we want to be rid of so soon? Obama's losing and his followers -- by the tens of millions -- are befuddled. It's not like someone did this to them. It's not like Romney has suddenly discovered "the secret." He's not winning. The president is losing. How could this happen?

Obamaphiles are amazed. Has The Greatest President Ever lost his edge? Did their hero toss in the towel during that first debate with Willard Romney? And tell me, if you can please, why does everyone agree to call him "Mitt" which isn't his name at all? Just because Willard Romney wants to be called "Mitt" that's no reason for us to go along. Do you remember Calvin Coolidge's favorite nickname? What did Herbert Hoover's friends call him playing cards or over the dinner table? And who said Hoover didn't have any friends? What about Richard Nixon? "Tricky Dick" wasn't his idea. Nicknames are supposed to be sympathetic, warm and appealing. Okay, Nixon probably didn't have one. Dan Ackroyd may have been simply true to life when he opened his famous Nixon-writing bit with - "Memoirs by Richard M. Nixon. Nineteen dollars and ninety-five cents." Even the lighting was no doubt historically correct.

If Obama's adoring legions have now been thrown into chaos, you can bet "Mitt lovers" by the hundreds have taken new life. They've hung up on their brokers. They've canceled lunch with their hedge fund managers. They've forgotten where they put their copies of last year's tax return. They've even postponed their trips to The Caymans, Bermuda and Switzerland. They've become politically energized. In some regions they may even have been reborn. They believe their "Mitt" may actually get himself elected CEO, I mean President of the United States.

Back in the real world, the place where money in seven figures with two comas is something seen less frequently than Bigfoot or the Tooth Fairy, the place where normal people understand that Liam Neeson doesn't really kill all those people, that it's just a movie, the important question to be asked is this: Does it make any difference who wins this election? For that matter, does it make any difference who wins any election in this country? The answer is, of course, well known to all of us. The answer is no. Yes, that's right. It really doesn't make any difference and in the next few years you'll see, it won't make any difference. Tweedledee and Tweedledum, two sides of the same coin.

In modern times we have only had two "apparently" meaningful presidential elections -- 1964 and 2008. In 1964 most of the nation was afraid that "crazy" and "extreme" Barry Goldwater would take the country deep into an endless, awful war with millions of casualties (that's casualties on both sides -- remember, everyone dead or wounded in a war counts) and no actual victory at the end. Fortunately, we, the American people, had the rational, reasonable, intelligent and enlightened Lyndon B. Johnson as an alternative. He would never do such a thing, would he? He said he wouldn't. Good thing we voted for him, right?

And then, in 2008, we had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move America away from 400 years of racial slavery, Jim Crow and systemic prejudice while, at the same time, we could elect a constitutional law professor to the presidency where he could reverse the devastating Bush/Cheney slide away from traditional American democracy and civil rights and restore things like respect for due process and the limitations on the power of an Imperial Executive. Also, it was Barack Obama who said he favored single-payer universal healthcare or what most people understood to be a public option, Medicare for all. On the other side we had an old, old-fashioned Republican, a war hero foreign policy super-hawk, someone who saw the United States as the victim of a never-ending series of terrorist attacks. After 9/11 more attacks were sure to come -- you'll see, someday, maybe soon, from somewhere, but for sure we were at war with every radical Muslim everywhere in the world who didn't like whatever it was we were doing or whatever it was we would do. Or maybe the terrorists didn't like all our refrigerators and TVs, our air conditioning, and yes of course, our freedom. The war hero, not the law professor, favored curbing our freedom in order to protect it, or what's left of it. So, yes 2008 was a real choice election. Finally, we could vote for "the people we were waiting for." We did. Yes, we did. Hope And Change won! Boy, were we happy.

Four years later, just how much Hope did we get? And how much Change too? We're not still fighting a war in the same spot in the world where everyone from Alexander The Great to the Soviet Union was defeated, are we? Obama got us out of that one, right? And we do have that single-payer universal health care now, don't we? Has due process been restored? Thank God! We've ended things like warrantless searches, haven't we? Certainly we haven't passed any new laws allowing unlimited detention without charges or without an open civilian trial and, sure, Guantanamo Bay is shut down? We haven't reached the point where the constitutional law professor President, all by himself, can make a list of people he wants to have killed, including Americans, and then tell an Executive agency to carry out that killing? That couldn't happen under Obama, could it? Have we launched military attacks, using remote-controlled drones against a series of nations, in secret, without any Congressional declarations at all? We wouldn't do any of those things, would we? Not Obama. Not our president. Not our messenger of hope and change.

On the home front, in Obama's first term we did get all the hope and change we were promised, right? Don't tell me we delivered 30 million Americans into the hands of health insurance companies, by force of law -- did we? We haven't abdicated any chance of negotiating lower prescription drug prices for Medicare's millions of American seniors, have we? We let Medicare do what the VA has always done, right? And for sure we fixed the mess made on Wall Street and reclaimed our economy from the clutches of selfish, multinational banks. Obama did that right away as soon as he took office, didn't he? And without any question the president of hope and change found a way to halt the rampage of home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies, didn't he? Obama wouldn't bail out corporations, banks and investment houses and leave the rest of us to struggle alone, would he? Of course not. Why else would we want to re-elect him? Obama must have taken millions of unemployed Americans and put them to work rebuilding our rotted infrastructure, right? And he strengthened our police and fire departments and our schools all across the country -- right? We didn't spend a trillion dollars rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan and forget about New Orleans, did we?

Do you need more? How much more can we take? Does it really matter if Barack Obama wins a second term or Mitt Romney becomes the president? Could Romney be better or worse, or any different at all? C'mon now, you and I both know the answer to that one.