Photo: AP Photo/Chris Carlson
There are some blog posts and “musings” in the political chatter-sphere saying that Barack Obama may have to go negative — after all, the Republicans are certainly going to go negative/rogue/whatever they do, so why not fight fire with fire? Except that won’t work. Negative campaigning didn’t get Obama into the White House. The David Axelrod hope/change train did. Here’s exactly what Obama should say to voters like me if he wants our support this time around.
Stay positive and brutally honest, and he’ll win:
On Republicans: Look, I’m not going to individually criticise any of the candidates. I don’t think the Bachmanns or Palins of the world are presidential — and I’ll leave it at that. Do you really want a slash and burn, take no prisoners, pseudo-populist demagogue in power?
The Republican Party of today is not the conservative, business-friendly party of yesteryear. It’s become a party of uninformed radicals.
On Healthcare: I messed up. I got sidetracked. Every person in America, at some time or other, says to his friends, ‘If I were President of the United States, I would at least get X accomplished during my time.’ I thought it’d be a pretty cool thing to change the healthcare system — to quote Spiderman’s uncle, with great power comes great responsibility.
A serious illness should not be a death warrant for all but those who are fortunate enough to be high-ranking executives at the very few companies who still provide great healthcare.
A serious illness should not be a one-way ticket to personal bankruptcy and complete financial ruin.
Children with cancer should not have to watch as their parents go bankrupt.
That’s what I felt, that’s what I still feel, but given the benefit of 20/20 hindsight I should have used my political capital first and foremost on improving the jobs market. No one’s perfect and I screwed up on that.
On Afghanistan: It’s expensive. It’s messy. But if we call it quits now, this will be the second time in recent history that the United States has prematurely bailed on Afghanistan. The first time we did that, Osama Bin Laden was one of the unintended side effects.
We need to see this through until there’s enough stability to let the Afghan leadership take over completely. Then we WILL get out — we can’t afford to stay there.
With that said, it’s simply unacceptable to see American men and women coming home in body bags, so we are going to ratchet up our unmanned Predator drone stuff as much as possible — why risk a single soldier or pilot’s life, when you can send a cheap, expendable killer robot instead?
The Drug War: 20-something Americans are getting locked up for using marijuana and other recreational substances in the privacy of their own homes. Terminal cancer patients have to sneak around like seedy criminals, or relocate to a state that allows medicinal marijuana dispensaries. Something’s not right here, clearly.
We need to take a hard look at this — is this the most efficient use of our law enforcement resources? I’d argue it is not, especially when we have data from cities and nations which suggest that legalization of recreational drugs for personal use does not increase crime. If anything, it lowers crime.
The Economy: The jobs are slowly coming back. The harsh reality, though, is that many companies have learned to get by on less. Not all of the jobs will come back.
We’re still the country that launches more globally successful business enterprises than any other nation. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Ford, GM, Boeing, Pfizer — anyone who says that China and Europe have all the answers, and that our glory days are over, is not being honest with you.
Eleven years ago, Google was a start-up that had only received one obscure mention in The New York Times. Innovation happens phenomenally fast when you have the brightest minds in the world, and a government that supports and fosters that innovation in every way it can.
We need tax incentives to keep the innovation coming. We need immigration policies that don’t make it impossible for bright engineers to relocate to the United States and add to our collective talents. Getting this done is a part of my challenge for the second term.
The Space Program: America needs to remain a leader in space. The Space Shuttle is retired, but our commitment to NASA is going to be stronger than ever. It employs people, improves US technological capabilities, and is a clear economic multiplier.
It’s time for new technology to take us to Mars. We are going to invest the resources necessary to make this happen within your lifetime.
Taxes: We all need to contribute our share. Shared sacrifice will get us out of the debt crunch we find ourselves in and return this country to prosperity. Obviously, I’m not going to tax the hell out of small business owners or the middle class while we are still in the midst of a slow, fragile recovery.
I don’t want to jeopardize that. No one does. Hey, I might even consider a one-year moratorium on capital gains taxes if the Republicans will simply let me boost taxes on billionaires. Bill Gates, Mark Cuban and Warren Buffett will all still be billionaires many times over after I’m through raising their taxes. Don’t you worry about them so much!
The Big Picture: This is still America. Let’s show the world what we are capable of. Not through Washington gridlock or partisan bickering, but through shared vision.
(For bonus points, he could also bust out the Kennedy 1962 quote, with minor edits, because it’s more crucial now than ever: “We choose to go to the moon Mars in this decade and do the other things restore our economy to greatness, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”)
In other words, ask Americans to step up to the challenge. To be bold. They’ve been told so far by their opinion leaders only to stock up on gold, traffick in fear and hatred, and continue buying cheap crap from China.
Clearly that strategy is not working.
Ask Americans to pitch in, to set aside party politics, and the vast majority will.
Admit your mistakes, modify your course as necessary, and most of us will give you another four years to see what you can do.
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