Allow me to go all partisan on your posteriors here.
Itâ€™s time, yâ€™all! Itâ€™s time to shake off our mid-term disillusionment, set fire to our ennui and get our president reelected. The election is only a few weeks away, and the outcome is balanced on the proverbial razorâ€™s edge. With the Middle East on fire, several polls show the Democratic National Convention bounce is history. The latest map showing likely electoral votes has big chunks of the country colored purple, which looks all queer fabulous until you realize the electionâ€™s a sickening tossup.
There are, of course, all kinds of reasons why itâ€™s been hard to get fired up this election. Recent stats show the economy on Obamaâ€™s watch registers dishwater gray on the color spectrum, and our collective national mood rings are following suit. Given the amount of cleanup left to Obama after the Bush-era feeding frenzy, itâ€™s no surprise that dishwaterâ€™s looking a little ugly. Itâ€™s also not surprising employment numbers are low when Republicans refuse to pass any jobs legislation, openly admitting their priority is tanking Obamaâ€™s presidency. We know that, but still the campaign slogan â€śBe Patient, Weâ€™re Not There Yetâ€ť doesnâ€™t bring crowds to their feet the way â€śThrow the Bastard Out!â€ť does. And crowds that donâ€™t get to their feet donâ€™t walk into voting booths.
So I thought itâ€™s a good time to visit a few Ghosts of Elections Past to look at the lessons they teach, while thereâ€™s still time to change our Election Future.
Ghost of 2008: â€śWeâ€™re ahead in the polls; voters eventually draw the right conclusion.â€ť Remember that little number from 2008 when we believed that there was no way Proposition 8 could pass in California? All polls showed the nasty ballot initiative would be voted down handily and it seemed like the expression of just a few conservative fanatics. In the 11th hour, several intolerant groups, most conspicuously the Mormon Church, bankrolled a flood of scare-mongering ads implying same-sex marriages would lead to preschoolers being taught gay sex acts in school.
In the wake of this drivel, we watched our numbers drop below water. Election night 2008, I stood watching the rest of the country celebrate Obamaâ€™s win while county by county, the State of California voted away our right to marry. The next morning there was a lot of finger pointing in the media about why we werenâ€™t better prepared. Four years later, weâ€™re still fighting to overturn that surprise attack once and for all.
This election, the Republican Party is not only putting forward a billionaire as its candidate, it is bankrolled by many more. These donorsâ€™ contributions are now legally limitless thanks to the Supreme Court striking down campaign finance restrictions. Weâ€™ve just begun to see the negative attack ads and they do move voters. We canâ€™t be complacent about any kind of lead polls may show on a given day.
Ghost of 2000: â€śThe two parties are the same; it doesnâ€™t matter who gets elected.â€ť That little ditty was popularized by a man ironically known for championing truth in advertising. In 2000, Ralph Nader ran on that slogan as the Green Partyâ€™s presidential candidate, split the Democratic vote, and the election was ultimately called for George W. by the Supreme Court. The two candidates who supposedly represented the same values? Al Gore, the champion of environmental causes, education and technological innovation, versus the W., who lied us into a war, gutted Federal regulations and handed public coffers over to big business cronies like Halliburton until the whole mess came down in the worldwide financial meltdown that continues to this day.
The difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is no less profound. Obama stands for science, education and informed policy, for building a strong middle class, for treating LGBT citizens and women with dignity. Romney believes global warming isnâ€™t proved, in tax cuts for himselfâ€¦ er, the wealthy, and would reverse every civil right gain weâ€™ve made in recent history. Political progress may be imperfect and frustratingly slow, but donâ€™t kid yourself that it doesnâ€™t matter whoâ€™s in the White House.
Ghost of 1848: â€śIn a state as blue as California, my participation doesnâ€™t matter.â€ť I donâ€™t know what election originated that idea, but I know discouraging voter participation has been fostered in every possible way by the Republican party, which has added voter registration rules and reduced voting hours in more than a dozen states. Again, we canâ€™t be complacent that the election is won here. We must vote and persuade others to participate. You can volunteer for voter registration and phone bank drives to reach folks locally and beyond the borders of our big blue state. It does matter. At this point, the win will go to the team that gets its players on the field. Get involved at barackobama.com.