October 28, 2012

A Reason to Hope Again

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My first column this semester was titled “Hope? Nope.” It contained my thoughts on why I was not especially thrilled to vote for President Obama, at least not as excited as I was in 2008.But the fact remains, I support the President. Here’s why:The modern form of the Republican Party has to be stopped in its tracks. The GOP’s national agenda ought to be considered abhorrent to our generation.During the Primaries, the only candidate to not receive any momentary surge of support was Jon Huntsman. I’ll admit that Huntsman doesn’t have the memory of Rick Perry, the thoughtfulness of Michele Bachmann, the pizza making skills of Herman Cain, the humility of Newt Gingrich or the personality of Mitt Romney.What Huntsman did offer was a reasonable alternative to President Obama. He was a deeply conservative governor from one of our nation’s most preposterously conservative states.Additionally, he spoke Mandarin fluently and had valuable foreign policy expertise, having served as President Obama’s ambassador to China, He looked past partisanship and put the duty to serve his nation above future political opportunities. His opposition to the President did not come from a deep-seated distrust of Obama; instead, it came from legitimate political differences.And that, more than any other reason, is why he never found any traction in today’s Republican party.Driving to grab some lunch today, I saw a woman whose bumper sticker featured President Obama’s rising sun symbol with a big X through it and the slogan, “I’ll keep my guns and you keep your change.”Now, I understand that Mitt Romney is probably the better candidate for “gun rights,” but that’s if we determine that gun rights means that the right to bare arms includes the right to high-capacity magazines and as few checks to gun ownership as possible.However, what has President Obama done on the issue of guns to make somebody devote their pickup truck’s rear window to it? The objective answer is: absolutely nothing.  The President has expanded gun rights.But that does not matter to the President’s opponents. In fact, during President Obama’s term, gun sales have dramatically increased because Americans think that the President is going to go after their guns.Whether it’s gun control, Obamacare, tax cuts, Solyndra, Dodd-Frank financial reform, regulation or a multitude of other issues, Republican opposition to the President is not based on an honest assessment of his performance, it’s based on a ingrained dislike of the President.I want to make it as clear as possible; this is an issue that is present in the Democratic Party, too. However, look back to the way Democrats treated President Bush. They did not like him and, coming from Massachusetts, I saw plenty of people who appeared to hate President Bush. Yet, Democratic Senators in Washington voted for President Bush’s tax cuts, the War in Iraq and passed No Child Left Behind by a vote of 91-8.Not a single Republican voted for Obamacare. Only three Republican Senators voted for the Stimulus Act. Of the three, one later switched to the Democratic Party and another, Olympia Snowe, is quitting the Senate because she believes that there is not enough bipartisanship.Since then, Republican opposition has hardened, as have its positions. Mitt Romney is the embodiment of that opposition. His wild inconsistencies, his radical choice of vice president and his patently absurd tax cut proposal all reek of the unreasonable conservative opposition to President Obama.I think it is overly simplistic, and foolhardy, to cry racism. Yes, 79 percent of Republicans were found “to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism” in an Associated Press poll from last week. Yet, core Republican opposition goes deeper than the mere color of the President’s skin.They oppose the President because he, in so many ways, represents the future. He’s relatively young, biracial and worldly. He’s not rural — he’s urban. Obama’s America, a more diverse cosmopolitan country, is coming. The demographics, with a rapidly rising minority population and a rapidly shrinking white population, make a more diverse and dynamic population inevitable.Imagine you are an older, rural, religious, middle-income and temperamentally conservative person. You have watched your income disappear, you’ve watched homosexuals begin marrying, your house is probably worth less now than it was 10 years ago, you’ve watched many of the decent jobs around you disappear, your pension (if you had one) is gone and all of a sudden the visual embodiment of the future, multiracial, progressive and secular country is elected to be your President. Voters like this are the face of the Tea Party, and they would never vote for a Democrat, let alone President Obama.It is not hard to see why people like that oppose the President and have unrealistic impressions of his attitudes and policies. Fortunately, there are not enough of those people to win an election.What it will take to defeat the President is the opposition of voters who harbor no resentment toward Obama, those who don’t have bumper stickers on the back of their cars touting their opposition to positions the President does not have. They simply think that the President has not done a good job and needs to be replaced.If you are one of these voters, I do not blame you. I really don’t. The last four years have not been a picnic. But I do ask you to think, think really long and really hard, because President Obama’s defeat will been seen as a victory by those who wish to keep our country from progressing into the cosmopolitain society our rising demographics dictate.If you wanted to vote for Jon Huntsman, I would disagree with you, I would argue that Huntsman’s conservative ideology was not the correct prescription for America. The American Conservative, a magazine with a name à propos of its politics, said Governor Huntsman’s views were both “a break with the Bush legacy on foreign policy and the chance to move their policy prescriptions off the Tea Party’s placards and into the center of our political debate.” Huntsman stood up to the radicalism at the core of today’s Republican Party, and he was quickly struck down by a Republican Party that sees anything less than an utter distaste for President Obama’s character as an immediate disqualification.Now, compare the Conservative’s assessment of Huntsman to its assessment of Romney whose “willingness to say whatever his supporters want to hear regardless of the merits” and that he “lacks important qualifications for the Presidency.”Unlike Huntsman, Romney’s election would be a realization of the irrational cultural backlash to President Obama. That might not be reason enough for everyone to vote for the President, but it’s why I am.

Noah Karr-Kaitin is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at nkarrkaitin@cornellsun.com. Plain Hokum appears alternate Mondays this semester.

Original Author: Noah Karr-Kaitin

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