September 4, 2012

How to defeat Romney despite the Obama campaign

Sam Smith

With only two months to go to election day, the Obama campaign remains in a pathetic stall, unable to break out of a statistical tie with a candidate who proposes to undo 80 years of American progress. Lacking an appealing record, a comprehensible program and, perhaps worst of all, anything approaching hope and joy, Obama seems incapable of acting like a real Democrat, a real president or a real guy up against a worthless, lying SOB.

Writing in the British Guardian, Jonathan Freedland notes:
Romney and Obama are now locked in a bitingly tight contest, one that the Republican candidate has a good – and increasing – prospect of winning. On 7 November there is an even, maybe better than even, chance that the world will wake up to President Romney. . Start with two numbers that are horrible for Obama. The first is his poll rating, which remains stubbornly below 50%. History suggests that incumbent presidents unable to break the 50% barrier at this stage end up serving just one term. The second figure, which goes a long way to explaining the first, is the statistic that puts US unemployment at 8.3%.

Joblessness has not stood below 8% since the month Obama took office. Again, the historical record is brutal on sitting presidents seeking re-election against such a bleak economic backdrop. The last one to pull it off was Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936.
Part of what’s wrong is that Obama is that he's a spoiled kid who’s been praised and promoted his whole life - even making it from state senator to president in just four years – and simply doesn’t know how to act when he’s not in an iconic glow. There’s not an ounce of Lyndon Johnson or Harry Truman in him and that’s what these days require.

His orchestrated rise hasn’t helped in other ways. For one thing, he hasn’t really joined the Democratic Party the way a normal politician would. He has made few friends on Capitol Hill or out in the field as the Wall Street Journal recently noted:
The president does almost no fundraising for Senate or House candidates and hasn't transferred money to other party election committees. His numerous campaign offices rarely coordinate with local candidates or display signs for anyone but Mr. Obama.

At rallies, Mr. Obama seldom urges supporters to volunteer -- or even vote -- for other Democrats running for office. Sometimes, he mentions other politicians in the room without noting that they are seeking re-election. He rarely shares the stage with other candidates.

That’s the reality and we only have two months to do something about it.

Still, the biggest issue in the campaign is not Obama, but the destruction that a President Romney – especially with an all Republican Congress and a couple more rightwing Supreme Court justices - will do to America, in all likelihood the worst damage by a domestic political cause since the Civil War.

Here’s one solution: those groups with the most to gain or lose from this election should ignore the Obama organization and launch their own campaign aimed at getting out the vote, defeating Romney and promoting their own platform.

The theme should be about saving America rather than saving Obama.

Here’s how such an independent campaign might look:

- Major progressive groups would come together and organize a massive get out the vote campaign.

There were, for example, some 41 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 44 who did not vote in 2008.. The under 29 crowd that did vote gave 63% of its support to Obama, the older group gave 55%.

There were some 18 million latino or black Americans who did not vote in 2008. Their margin for Obama these days is roughly two thirds for latinos and 95% for blacks.

In a race so tight, such a loss of voters is of overwhelming import.

A good place to start would be for black and latino groups to join in a long overdue coalition initially centered on getting voters to the polls. After the election, no matter who wins, this coalition could expand into one of the most powerful political institutions in America.

The actual get out of the vote plan must be far more than advertising and and public pleas. Churches, for example, are a great source of inspiration as well as of information about who might need encouragement or transportation help getting to vote. For example, one of Washington’s most successful politicians –Marion Barry –used church vans and free independent taxicab service to get people to the polls.

Central to any get out the vote program is surveying neighborhoods to find where one’s supporters are, helping those who need assistance, and, late on election day, double checking on those who haven’t voted to remind and drive them necessary. Any individual can do this for their own block or apartment. Larger organizations can handle much larger areas and provide telephone numbers to call for those needing transportation.

And you don’t have to be a political group. Getting people to the polls is a non-partisan act of American democracy at work. Environmental, civil liberties, senior citizen and labor unions should make helping people vote, especially the ones on their mailing lists their top priority in coming weeks.Every college campus should have an organized voter drive.

This used to be widely understood and practiced, but with the rise of the Internet and the increasing isolation of Americans from community institutions a more atomized form of politics has developed. Yet on election day, clicktavism and niche causes aren’t enough. People have to leave the virtual and rediscover the magic of communal action and decisions.

When it happens, you notice. For example, the current effort for gay marriage in my state of Maine is much more visible than the previous unsuccessful one. At a street art fest in Portland, I counted a half dozen activists soliciting volunteers and donations. And I have received two friendly phone calls of a similar nature. This voter feels much more excited about the referendum because it involves real people instead of just TV ads and emails.

- Every major progressive issue area should have a one page bulleted list
of how a Romney victory will harm the voter. Non-rhetorical things like a list for seniors stressing the damage that will occur to Social Security and Medicare. These lists should be posted on the Web, distributed door to door, available wherever people gather, and distributed to groups and institutions concerned with the issue area.

- Progressives should push their own platform. Stop being beholden to, or silenced by, the Obama administration. Instead lay out publicly an agenda that these groups will push regardless of who wins, adding the point that it will be a hell of a lot easier to struggle with Obama than with Romney. And for the next 60 days, stay away from the more controversial stuff and overwhelming emphasize programs that will provide jobs, more secure economic conditions and help for those in financial trouble. It’s been the failure to concentrate on such economic issues that has been a prime cause of progressive failure in recent decades.

The basic theme should be that it’s not about Obama, it’s about us, with us meaning everything from a 18 year old still looking for her first job to a 70 year old latino worried about losing his Medicare.

The message is that we’re not saving Obama, we’re saving Social Security, Medicare, civil rights, national parks, Amtrak, public schools, women’s rights, voting rights, veterans, bridges, highways and other public works, college students, people facing foreclosure, the disabled, fire departments, and all the other people, programs and services Romney and his pals want to cancel, cut, or critically damage.

For the next 60 days the job is to defeat Romney. If successful, we’ll deal with the Obama problem after November 6.

First you rescue the sinking ship; then you fix it.


Not to be construed as support for Obomber said...

"Obama is a despicable patsy, a front man for powerful private interests, and Democrats should be totally ashamed to have elevated such a cowardly lowlife. But as awful as Obama is, a vote for Republicans is a vote for Hitler or Stalin. Indeed, the election of Romney and Ryan would be worse than either. "
Paul Craig Roberts

Dan Lynch said...

It doesn't do any good to get out the vote if there is no one to vote for and if only swing state votes count.

It is debatable whether Romney would do more damage than Obama. Only a Democratic predident can deliver the votes to pass trade deals, de-regulation, and cuts to SS/Medicare.

My vote doesn't count so I'm not losing sleep over the horse race. I push issues and values, instead.

Kenny Stallworth said...

That's right Dan your vote does'nt count because you have already discounted it. People died for the right to vote and you get to live but don't care anything about it. President Romney and the Republican party thanks you.

Dan Lynch said...

Kenny, my vote doesn't count because presidents are elected by an electoral college, not by popular vote. My red state's electoral votes will go to Romney no matter who I vote for. It makes no difference who I vote for, or whether I vote at all. Just stating the facts.

We kid ourselves that America is a democracy.

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to agree with"not to imply support for Obama" that a Romney "win" might be twisted into support for the Rethuglicans insane cynical lie that right-wing CIA-Military Industrial Complex Bankster stooge Obama is a "socialist communist" to pretend that even Obama's fascist policies are too "left wing" to be acceptable.

Anonymous said...


Why do we even need a Senate? Get rid of it along with the electoral college.

Do not look behind the curtain.

Tony Vodvarka said...

I get it, Sam, vote to endorse our warfare state figurehead "President" and his fascist state or we'll take away your social security, medicare and birth control, the good cop/ bad cop game honed to a fine edge. Given what an utterly corrupted, shameful farce our electoral system has become, it is a wonder that anyone goes bothers to vote at all.

Anonymous said...

I live on the west coast, in a few electoral college vote state. Usually the election has been conceded before the polls even close in my state. So my vote doesn't count for president, though it might in state and local elections.

Because my vote for president will not matter, I vote my conscience and vote third party. When third parties do well in elections they shape the future debate, which in this election is about the best we can hope for.

Dan Lynch said...


Why do we need a House of Representatives ? Why not have direct democracy instead ?

Back to the horse race: if Obama wins, he will not be able to pass ANY progressive legislation. He will, however, agree to cut SS/Medicare.

If Romney wins, he will not be able to pass ANY conservative legislation without Democratic votes in the Senate.

Re: SCOTUS. Obama will nominate conservatives to the court because Obama is a conservative. Even if Obama nominated a liberal, the Senate would never confirm a liberal.

Romney cannot put another Scalia on the court without Democratic votes in the Senate.

This is the least important presidential election in my lifetime. No matter who wins, we'll get endless war, austerity, a conservative court, and erosion of civil liberties.

David Schwartzman said...

Yes, by all means defeat Romney and prepare for the huge challenges we face when Obama is reelected. Greens and their supporters can contribute to this effort by campaigning for the Jill Stein/Cheri Honkala Presdential ticket. We must make a public critique of the Obama administration's record, elevate the political education of the electorate, maximize the power of the progressive vote. Public silence on Obama's horrid civil liberties record, immoral drone strikes, Bush-like climate policy, continued drug war and mass incarceration, support for a potential strike against Iran, the U.S./Israeli imperial axis, transnationals run amok, GMO agriculture and fracking etc. is a big disservice to democracy and to all the people of the world who are victims of present policies. That is why the Stein campaign is so critical. Lets adopt the strategy of empowering the voter to make their vote count the most, as Ted Glick wisely advocates (Strategic Presidential Voting,, encouraging a vote for Jill Stein/Cheri Honkala in states where either Obama or Romney are very likely to win. Defeat the Right AND maximize a protest vote for the national peace and justice party, the Green Party (GP). Prepare for the challenges we surely face after the election.

Anonymous said...

Unlikely the GOP survives a Romney victory, he'd hit 25% favorability by next summer and cost the GOP Congress in 2014, and the WH for the next decade. Read Nate Silver, Mitt has a 25% chance. The GOP is already planning 2016, but expects to control Congress until then. The Dems are as effective at capturing Congress as McClellan was at defeating Lee. You might provide coverage of district-level GOTV and registration battles currently engaged.