To many of his Democrat comrades, and Republicans alike, President Obama has done some pretty “big” things and made history during the past couple of months. He’s endorsed same-sex marriage, signed an executive order ceasing the deportations of many young, undocumented immigrants, called for maintaining the Bush tax cuts for those making under $250,000 (thereby increasing taxes for those making more), signed another executive order supporting education initiatives and reforms for African-Americans, and just recently approved increased military aid to Israel.
A recent USA Today/Gallup poll found that when compared to previous elections, 51% of Republicans/Republican leaners and only 39% of Democrats/Democratic leaners feel more enthusiastic about the upcoming election. In 2008, it was 61%-35%, a 26-point advantage for the Democrats. These numbers must be quite alarming to Obama’s campaign, because he had benefitted from high levels of enthusiasm in 2008, and because Governor Romney is trouncing him in fundraising.
Solution: excite several segments of the base by pushing initiatives that appeal directly to them – one of the myriad advantages of incumbency.
Let me go through a few:
President Obama’s executive order ensuring that many young, undocumented immigrants are not deported also suggests an underlying political motive. He abused his presidential powers by bypassing Congress and effectively throwing checks and balances out the window in order to muster support within the Hispanic and Latino communities. Karen Hughes, a Republican strategist, put it best: “Even those who disagree with the president’s decision to run roughshod over the system of checks and balances…have to admire the audacity of his move. Obviously concerned by Republican Senator Marco Rubio’s efforts to find a compassionate and comprehensive solution to America’s immigration situation, President Obama essentially cut in line, moving swiftly and unexpectedly to grab headlines and offer a partial solution to a problem he’s ignored for the bulk of his presidency.” In the very same article, Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster, wrote that “Obama is presently beating Romney among Latinos 61% to 27% and his announcement will only further help to consolidate the Latino vote behind him. This order is the closest he can come right now to enacting the DREAM Act, the components of which a sweeping 90% of Latinos support.” Even a Democrat explicitly admits the intention here.
Secondly, President Obama’s call to raise taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year by extending the Bush tax cuts only to those earning less than that is an obvious attempt to fire up the middle-class. Under the guise of “fairness,” the president has created an atmosphere that is highly divisive. By pitting different segments of the country against one another, he is trying to displace the middle class’s anger about the stagnant economy from himself onto those who are known for their financial success, like Mitt Romney. Displacing their anger is one thing that the Obama campaign has determined must be done in order to win in November, at the expense of Obama’s expertly crafted “hope-and-change” brand. And, even though he himself said that raising taxes during hard economic times is a bad idea, he is doing it anyway.
Thirdly, the Obama administration approved an increase in military aid (and sent his Secretary of State) to Israel, right before Romney was set to arrive there. Support for Israel is an issue extremely important to many Jewish voters, who reside in large numbers in swing states like Florida and Ohio. With Jewish support for the president lagging behind his 2008 numbers, these moves by the Obama campaign were obvious attempts to preempt Romney’s trip. That’s not to say that military aid and sending Secretary Clinton to visit is a mistake – it isn’t. But right before Romney gets there? The Jewish vote has been one of the most consistent Democratic voting blocs, but throughout his term, his treatment of Israel has faced criticism from pro-Israel advocates. The president’s actions suggest vulnerability on this issue, and the Jewish vote is one area where he cannot afford to lose ground. Hence, in an effort to shore up the Jewish vote, he approves military aid.
Now, while many of these actions do indeed support noble causes, and are probably mostly true to his personal convictions, the timing of the president’s announcements seems to suggest an underlying motive. Of course President Obama could not have accomplished everything at the beginning of his term, but rolling out these orders and policies just months before the election, and at times as though they are direct responses to the Romney campaign, makes me extremely skeptical of Obama’s intentions. With polls showing a lack of enthusiasm and slipping leads amongst the president’s key constituencies due to the poor economy, it looks as if he is pulling out all the stops simply in order to ensure his own reelection.
Yes – an election is about winning and bold choices must be made. However, taking liberties with presidential powers and being so auspiciously political should be causes for concern for all segments of the electorate. By “championing” these initiatives, the president is telling the American people that he and his campaign believe that we are easily manipulated, stupid enough to allow his actions to distract us from the poor economic conditions we face – undoubtedly the most important issue of this election.
President Obama is making it quite clear that his reelection objectives are his main priority, not the people who put him in office in the first place; rather, they are just puppets to be played with. It seems like he may indeed be facing a “one-term proposition” because we are not doing “just fine” and should not be convinced otherwise by mere political diversions.