Let me start by saying this is not a doom and gloom diary. So long as we keep working at it, President Obama will be re-elected come Nov. 6th.
But neither is this a message delivered through rose-colored glasses. While it does no good to wallow in the muck and mire of disappointment and rumination, it does a great deal of good to look honestly at mistakes made and to correct them going forward.
Folks here, Progressives everywhere felt let down by last week's presidential debate for one very good reason. Last week Mitt Romney was on the ropes, and the president had the opportunity to put him away. And he got cautious. He went into the "prevent defense," the strategy of sitting on a lead and trying to run out the clock.
As a fan of the New York Giants in the late 1970's, I can tell you that the prevent defense is most often a losing strategy in that it kills momentum and enthusiasm. Also, it's extremely frustrating to watch, and it speaks to a lack of confidence in what your team is made of.
Was an opportunity missed last Wednesday night? Absolutely.
Can momentum and enthusiasm be fully restored? Easily.
Let's huddle up on the other side of the fold.
Remember how great it felt watching the Democratic National Convention when speaker after speaker just flat-out nailed it? There were inspirational words, words that explained what we were about from people like Elizabeth Warren, Lilly Ledbetter, Julian Castro, John Kerry, Jennifer Granholm, etc, etc. etc.
And there were speeches delivered by folks like Deval Patrick, Michelle Obama, Ted Strickland, Joe Biden, and most especially Bill Clinton that simply hit the ball out of the park! (I know, mixed sports metaphors).
Biden spoke passionately about American values, most notably about how critical it was that the president saved the American auto industry.
Michelle Obama spoke about values too, about how she and her husband learned that when you achieve success in life, you do not lock the door behind you, you hold it open so that others may succeed as well.
Strickland was pure genius, speaking about the president as an economic patriot, and Romney as an "outsourcing pioneer." He said that Romney had so little economic patriotism that "even his money needs a passport, summers in the Cayman Islands, winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps." He reminded us about how Romney took the position to let Detroit go bankrupt!
Bill Clinton drew the sharpest line between the president and Mr. Romney, between Democrats and Republicans by carefully laying out the facts. His speech can be best summed up in one word: ARITHMETIC!
But for me, nobody said it better than Deval Patrick:
It's time for Democrats to grow a backbone and to stand up for what we believe!And what exactly happened coming out of that convention? The president got a nice bounce in the polls, and his lead only grew over the course of the weeks that followed. And we started looking better down-ballot as well, particularly in some key Senate races.
The truth is, it wasn't only the convention. The Obama team has been waging a strong, tough campaign ever since Romney emerged from the Republican field (the clown car) to be the apparent nominee. They took the lead by illuminating the real Mitt Romney, and drawing the contrasts between what Romney has said and done, and what the president has said and done. They hit Romney on his role at Bain, not creating jobs so much as outsourcing them, and reaping outsized profits for himself, on which he's paid very little tax, as far as we can tell because (they point out), he won't release his returns.
In so doing, clear lines were drawn. And the result there was that Democrats became excited about the election, and lo and behold, even the folks in the center, the "independents," were breaking our way. And why wouldn't they be? Obama's positions are popular, Romney's are "double-down on trickle-down," if they're anything at all.
And thus the title of the diary, When we act like Democrats (and fight), we win.
When I think back on the Convention, I see that it was Bill Clinton above all the others who put that maxim in sharpest focus.
But better than anyone in history at demonstrating that bit of wisdom was FDR. No-one drew the lines sharper than he did in 1936, mocking the pronouncements of the GOP, relishing their hatred, and so on, and no-one ever won a bigger electoral victory than he did that year (523-8). Just watch this: http://www.youtube.com/...
Right now, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are in a position where they can just pummel Romney and Ryan and the Republican Party on the positions they have taken, for those positions are not popular with the American people.
If they try to back away, they can be shot down with their own words. They are on record and they are on tape, showing with word, deed, and actual legislation how little they care about average Americans and how much they care about cutting taxes for wealthy people.
Biden and Obama have 3 debates remaining with two individuals who are afraid to say what they believe in, but that's alright because they've already said it.
And what's more, on various occasions they've tried to contradict it, obfuscate it, or run away from it. Or they've simply tried to avoid specifics with lame excuses or meaningless rhetoric. Call them out on it, ask them what they're trying to hide, fill in the blanks for them. Illuminate that which they don't want anyone to see.
You know, if you've watched the president over the years, you've seen a (very talented) man who is alternatively bold and cautious. But it seems (to me anyway) that the times he does best are the times he gets bold, and that is something which seems to come from within the man and for that reason it rings true.
In an instance like this one, with a record of accomplishment and with a vulnerable opponent who has put out unpopular positions, contradictions, and avoidances which are easy to point up, Obama is in a position where he can be honest and be bold and put Romney (way) back on the defensive. And he (Romney) won't just be on the defensive, but he'll be there with positions that are pretty much impossible to defend.
Deval Patrick wanted to see us standing up for what we believe, and to start by standing up for the president.
That will happen, but let me conclude with the following: The more the president stands up on behalf of the American People, the more the People will respond in kind and stand up for him on Election Day.
He fights, we fight, and we all win together!
The point I make in this diary (fighting for solid principles is popular, an over abundance of caution is not) goes beyond electoral politics and into governance.
Peace will not come with the right-wing in this Nation by trying to make them happy, as they'll never be happy when Democrats are in charge. Peace will not come through appeasement, because they will always demand more.
Peace will come through strength, and that is the strength to do right by the American People and by restoring balance and greatness to our Nation.