Every four years you hear pols and pundits saying, "this is the most important election of my lifetime..." blah blah. Every four years most individual's lives are not remarkably changed by the person who sits in the Oval Office. But, I think the 2012 presidential election is different.
In this election, obviously, I support President Obama 100 percent. I always have and always will. He's not perfect and I, like many unashamed self-described progressives, have been a little disappointed by some of his policies and his certain willingness to compromise with moral absolutists and intellectual lightweights. Politics is the art of compromise, indeed, but I've often been frustrated by Obama's lack of fight (his lack of "Chicagoness").
In 2008, I went to Indiana and Ohio and held fundraisers for him. I'll never forget how emotional it was the night he was elected president. For our nation, with our often ugly history, the election of a black person to the presidency will likely prove to be the most momentous political event of my lifetime. That's not the only reason I felt Obama's election was so special though; he's urban, he's a pragmatist and he lived in Chicago... He was (and is) one of us. Hope and change were/are great slogans and we all (including, I'm sure, Obama himself) drank the Kool-Aid to some extent. But that night, in Grant Park, I felt something (with millions of others), that will be impossible to replicate. I knew with absolute certainty, almost a national zealotry that America is the greatest nation to ever exist on this earth. I felt hopeful... I thought things would be different (better) forever.
Four years later, the feelings of that night feel like a very distant memory. The last four years have left many people feeling jaded and a little embarrassed by their willing submission to naivety. This isn't Obama's fault. Reality often crushes idealism and happy endings are a lovely fiction, best left for children's literature. However, Obama has achieved many important things over the last four years: saving our auto industry, health care reform, getting rid of DADT, killing Bin Laden, etc. In my opinion, he thoroughly deserves four more years. But more relevantly, the electoral alternative to Obama is one of the most repugnant and cynical people imaginable.
Mitt Romney is rotten to his nonexistent core. Having absolutely zero principals, other than victory at any cost, is not just weird, it's scary. To some extent all politicians taper their remarks depending on whatever audience they are addressing or targeting, but the way Romney lies with such see-through conviction is positively Orwellian.
Four years ago we had hope and change and we probably were too willing to believe in the fairy-tale, but all Mitt Romney offers is an ugly cynicism and an extreme social-Darwinism, dressed in a disgustingly wholesome, make believe 1950s-esque package. Were Romney to win next week, it would basically be a death nail to conviction politics (which has been receding since Clinton). A Romney victory would solidify that 50 (plus 1) percent of the American people value partisanship over conviction. A Romney America is a dark prospect, but I remain optimistic that the American people will defeat Romney's repugnantly ugly cynicism, masquerading as a political campaign.