When President Obama came into office, he inherited a major economic crisis, two horribly conceived wars, and political opposition determined to cause him to fail, even if it meant making the world more dangerous and the American economy less stable. Given these challenges, he kept a course that improved the situation.
Should he have stopped or dramatically curtailed the drone program as soon as it became clear that, as implemented, it causes more harm than the problems it seeks to address? Should he have stopped the modernization of the nuclear arsenal? Should he have closed Guantanamo and ceased other dehumanizing practices that degrade U.S. standing as a protector of human rights? Should he have re-instituted stronger controls over banking as part of the Wall Street bailout program? Should he have indicted those who lied to start a war of aggression and the implementation of torture? I think we would be better off if he had done these things.
But he did do something of enormous importance not often recognized. He changed the national dialogue from "who do we invade next" to "how do we provide health care for people." That in itself demonstrates how far he has taken us from the brink. If he does not win the election tomorrow, Romney, with 17 out of 24 Bush administration foreign policy advisers on his staff, will quickly take us back to the brink. If he does not win tomorrow, the conversation will change back to "how to find a way to stop the next war." We can then kiss hopes for a stable U.S. economy goodbye. What will we tell our children if we lose the possibility of curbing global warming, knowing that dramatic weather changes will be the legacy we will be giving them?
I have friends so fed up with the "system" and the dominant control of the election by money and institutions that do not feel the pain of the poor nor the sting of war that they are considering not voting. I am writing all of you. Vote! Could you imagine having a president who actually has stated that, to him, corporations are people! Isn't that enough to get you out of your seats?
It was this kind of thinking that opposed Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, and the minimum wage in the past, and it will work to end efforts to use government to help anything or anyone other than the military, the rich, and corporations in the future.
Mitt Romney has pandered to those who want the federal government (and government in general) to radically change its mission. They propose turning Social Security and Medicare into voucher programs, keeping tax benefits for the rich, diminishing the negotiating power of labor, further deregulating markets, stopping the teaching of "critical thinking" and evolution, revising the American narrative to stop its multicultural heritage from expanding, and ending the wall separating church and state. Worse than all of this, they assert a doctrine of American exceptionalism that runs counter to our promotion of democracy and respect for the rights of every individual. This attitude will make our country of less than 5 percent of the world's population even less popular. Instead of being the shining light on the hill we will be thought of as casting a dark shadow of empire over calls for democracy and justice. Is this what we want? Please vote!