In two months we Americans will go to the polls once again to decide who the president will be for the next four years. We will not be allowed to vote on those who wield the true power in this country. On November 6th we will not vote for the chairman of ExxonMobil or JPMorgan Chase or Citibank or the Premier of China. That day will come, but not this year.
Now, I know there are a goodly number of you out there who believe there's not a snowball's chance in Kenya that Barack Obama will not be re-elected to the White House. And why would you believe otherwise? After the incredible Democratic convention this week, with the best rock-em-sock-em speeches I've heard from a Democrat's mouth since " since, I don't know when. You can't help but not have a contact high after this past week if you are of the sort who believes in economic justice, peace, and a five-dollar latte. Right now, with the buzz on, you are sitting there thinking that your fellow Americans will turn out in massive numbers, either because they want to continue the Obama era or because they're scared shitless of the barbarians at the gate -- or both. You're convinced that the Republicans have blown it with all their talk of the lady parts they want to control even though we now know that they have no idea where those parts are, what they are, or how they work.
Yes, it certainly looks like the voters will reject this obscenely wealthy man called Romney -- Romney of Michigan/Massachusetts/New Hampshire/Utah/Zurich/Grand Cayman -- this man who will not explain exactly how all his wealth was obtained, where he keeps it, or how much taxes he pays on it. He wants to turn the clock back to the '50s -- the 1850s -- and he refuses to offer any specific plan about what he'll do about anything. He wants to run the country like a corporation but he can't even control one 82-year-old actor on his own convention stage, a Hollywood legend who, in the matter of ten and a half minutes went from Good (walking onto the stage) to Bad (talking to a chair) and then to Ugly (the chair started " swearing?). It was better than the best cat-flushing-the-toilet video on YouTube and it was a gift to all of us who know that Romney is doomed come November.
Last week, I said on the HuffPost Live webcast that we had all better start practicing how to say "President Romney" because, living in Michigan, I can tell you that there's trouble here on the two peninsulas and it's not just because Romney is a native son or that we like to watch kids from Cranbrook chase down gay kids and chop their hair off. One recent poll here showed Romney leading Obama by four points! How can that be? Didn't Obama save Detroit?
No, he didn't. He saved General Motors and Chrysler. "Detroit" (and Flint and Pontiac and Saginaw) are not defined by the global corporations who suck our towns dry and then split town to make more money elsewhere (except, of course, they continued to design and built crap cars, so eventually they didn't make the money at all). These cities in Michigan are about the people who live here, and in the process of "saving Detroit," Mr. Obama had to fire thousands of these people, and reduce the benefits and pensions of those who were left. There's a lot of pissed off people in Michigan (and Wisconsin and Ohio), people who weren't saved even though the corporation was. I'm just stating a fact, and those of you who don't live here should know this.
But the voting on November 6th will not take place at Walmart or on any potato's couch. It can only happen by going to a polling place -- and, not to state the obvious, the side that gets the most people physically out to the polls that day, wins. We know the Republicans are spending tens of millions of dollars to make sure this very thing happens. They have built a colossal get-out-the-vote machine for election day, and the sheer force of their tsunami of hate stands ready to overwhelm us like nothing we've ever seen before. Those of us in the Midwest got a taste of it in 2008. Traditionally Democratic states -- all of which voted for Obama -- saw our state legislatures and governor seats hijacked by this well-oiled machine. We didn't know what hit us, but these new Republicans wasted no time in dismantling some of the very basic thing we hold dear. Wisconsin fought back -- but even that huge grassroots uprising was not enough to stop the governor bought and paid for by the Koch brothers. It was a wake up call, for sure -- but have we really woken up?
It's been a great week in Charlotte, and I'm getting ready now to watch Barack Obama give his speech. It's OK for us to take a couple days to high-five each other, but I cannot stress enough to you that unless you and I are doing something every day for the next 60 days to get people out to vote, then there is a chance we will all be saying "President Romney" come January. Don't think it can't happen. Hate, sad to say, at least in America these days, is a far greater motivator than love and feelin' groovy.
For those of us who believe that the history of the Democrats and the Republicans is to do the bidding of the 1% (Obama's #1 private contributor in '08 were the people at Goldman Sachs), and that while the Dems are a kinder/gentler bunch, they are also just as quick to want to take us to war and sell us out to the corporate interests (and, yes, Obamacare is a $$ gift to the insurance companies; only a single-payer system will stop that), this election is a bit of a bitter pill. We were hugely disappointed when President Obama didn't charge out of the gate after his inauguration and undo the damage that had been done (as FDR did in his first hundred days) -- and only when Wall Street stopped writing him the big campaign checks this past year did he get his mojo back and start fighting the fight that needs to be fought. He's a good and decent person (when he's not sending in drones to kill Pakistani civilians or prosecuting government whistleblowers), and his election four years ago was a high point of such emotional intensity I just couldn't get over how hopeful I was that this country had changed and we had found our moral footing. Reality set in a few weeks later when he put Tim Geithner and Larry Summers in charge of economic policy and then he changed his mind about closing Gitmo.
OK, so people like me, just once in our lifetime, would like to get our way all the time! Is that too much to ask? Of course, there is a different question that is in the air now -- shall we give the country back to the crowd who gave the country to the 1%? I think not. So let's join in with our liberal majority and be fierce and relentless in these next two months. Let's spend this time educating people what we mean when we say things like "single-payer" and "Blackwater." Politics and the fate of the nation (and the world -- sorry, world) are on the front burner and those of us who want to wrestle control of our society out of the hands of the few can take healthy advantage of these coming weeks. Don't sit it out. Don't try to convince anyone Obama has magically transformed us -- just tell them four years is simply not enough time to undo all the hurt caused by biggest economic crash since the Great Depression and the biggest military blunder/lie in our history.
I'm going to go with my optimistic side here (sorry, cynics, you know I love you) and imagine a Second Term Obama (and a Democratically-controlled Congress) who will go after all the good that our people deserve and put the power of our democracy back in our hands. There's good reason why the Right is terrified of a Second Term Obama because that is exactly what they think he'll do: the real Obama will appear and take us down the road to social justice and tolerance and a leveling of the economic playing field. For once, I'd like to say I agree with the Right -- and I sincerely hope their worst nightmare does come true.