He has certainly disappointed many of us on the left, but as the New Yorker points out, he’s also done a whole lot of good. And sorry lefties who think that there’s “no difference” between Obama and Romney, and that it’s just a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils — I am not quite sure you’re paying attention.
To be sure, Obama is not a bleeding-heart liberal. He’s pretty far to the right of my own political views. But despite conservatives’ best attempts to cast him as a socialist, Obama ran as a moderate, and he was elected as one, and he governed as one. At the same time, many of the positions he took and the policies he promoted were important and progressive. Instructing the DOJ not to defend DOMA. Coming out in favor of marriage equality. Ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Passing the Lily Ledbetter Act, which ensured fair pay for women, various minority groups and people with disabilities after a Supreme Court case made it all but impossible for those groups to get justice for unfair wage practices. And the big one: Healthcare reform.
Mitt Romney would undo much of that. And all of Obama’s incredibly troubling executive power policies (drones, Guantanamo)? A Romney presidency will double down.
The choice is clear. The Romney-Ryan ticket represents a constricted and backward-looking vision of America: the privatization of the public good. In contrast, the sort of public investment championed by Obama—and exemplified by both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act—takes to heart the old civil-rights motto “Lifting as we climb.” That effort cannot, by itself, reverse the rise of inequality that has been under way for at least three decades. But we’ve already seen the future that Romney represents, and it doesn’t work.
The reëlection of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency. Not only are we in broad agreement with his policy directions; we also see in him what is absent in Mitt Romney—a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness and integrity. A two-term Obama Administration will leave an enduringly positive imprint on political life. It will bolster the ideal of good governance and a social vision that tempers individualism with a concern for community. Every Presidential election involves a contest over the idea of America. Obama’s America—one that progresses, however falteringly, toward social justice, tolerance, and equality—represents the future that this country deserves.