After five and a half years in office and not facing another election, one assumes the president would feel free to speak out and act forcefully on a slew of issues and he would be good at it. Issues including signing an executive order barring discrimination against LGBT workers in federal contracting; demanding Congress pass ENDA; immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship; extending unemployment insurance; legislation on equal pay for women; increased funding for medical research; and call for action on climate change as well as the highway trust fund. While the president's approval ratings aren't great the voters Democrats need at the polls to win in November still believe in him and in these issues.
The Washington Post reported that
"Obama was on the West Coast to raise millions of dollars for his party. President Obama spent the second half of this week preaching to rich supporters about why Democrats are better than Republicans. It sounded like a conventional stump speech in the windup to the midterm battle -- including a rote apology to the first lady for running another campaign."
The president shouldn't be apologizing to the first lady for running another campaign but should actually be running one as leader of his party. The results of this election will allow him to add to his legacy. Instead we see a president who appears constrained in his public statements and actions. He appears timid in responding to international issues and lackluster on the domestic front. It isn't what he says but rather how he says it. The passion he displayed in his campaign is gone and to win in November Democrats need to see Obama in campaign mode again.
The president should barnstorm the country by bus, train and plane to bring out the Democratic vote. He must do more than talk to the rich at fundraising events. The president likes to say he is a great campaigner, and he is. But turns out he's not as good at getting his points across when speaking from the White House. That may be the fault of the White House communications team but he doesn't seem willing or able to get revved up as he does on the campaign trail. The campaigner is gone and what we get is someone who appears to like his privacy and doesn't really connect on a wholesale level with regular people. The White House communications effort pales in comparison to the Obama campaign effort.
When the president gets charged up he is great and a charged up president is what Democrats need to motivate their voters. Democrats can win across the board if we get our voters to the polls. The Koch brothers can spend their projected $125 million but still lose if we get the Democratic base to the polls because Republicans are focusing on issues like Benghazi which even conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer agrees doesn't make political sense.
Democrats and Democratic leaning Independents will vote if we focus on issues that impact them directly. Hispanics, young people, women, union workers, the middle class and the elderly all have good reasons to vote Democratic. A charged-up president needs to lay out those reasons in a strong, clear, concise voice.
People need to know what they get if they vote Republican or simply stay home. They get a Congress that opposes raising the minimum wage; has voted 35 times to kick their children off their health care policy; voted to keep people with pre-existing conditions from getting insurance; and voted to go back to when simply being a woman was considered a pre-existing condition. Republicans voted against extending unemployment insurance and to cut social security, Medicare and Head Start. Republicans won't pass meaningful immigration reform.
The president's message is simple. Vote Democratic to extend unemployment insurance and pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. Vote Democratic to pass ENDA; protect Head Start, Medicare and Social Security. Vote Democratic to ensure that the votes will be there to confirm the next Supreme Court Justice who would understand corporations aren't people; and supports the constitutionality of marriage-equality and will protect Roe v. Wade. The president should tout Senator Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) legislation to cut student loan rates to below 4 percent and remind people all these things can only happen with a Democratic Congress.
The rich vs. middle class and poor campaign actually works. It works because in today's America it is fact that the current Republican leadership supports legislation that benefits the special interests and the wealthy while Democrats support legislation benefitting the poor and middle class. It isn't always that way and hopefully one day the Republican Party will again be controlled by moderates, but that isn't the case today. Pointing out this simple fact won Obama two elections and it will work again in the mid-term elections.
A charged-up President Obama in campaign mode can make the difference in November.