By Marcus Johnson
With the 2012 election fast approaching, liberal students across the nation are wondering: “Has Barack Obama done enough to get re-elected?” The answer is a lot more complex than most people want to believe. Critics like to point to his “perceived” accomplishments or failures and then decide whether they believe Obama has done enough. But while accomplishments matter, they are not nearly as important as the selection of the Republican nominee, overseas events, and the possibility of economic upturn.
Four years into the Obama presidency, the cries of hope and change have long vanished. Not only has Obama failed to become the transcendent president many hoped for, he hasn’t been able to deliver on a myriad of issues that were seen as more realistically achievable. Obama’s greatest success is the death of Osama Bin Laden, who had become the unreachable center of Bush’s “War on Terror” for nearly a decade. While this was undoubtedly a success for the Obama administration, the kind of military intervention the president has endorsed stands in stark contrast to his campaign promises to stop American wars in the Middle East. Instead of ending the era of Bush-type American imperialism, Obama has continued it, initiating and funding uprisings in Libya and Egypt as well as continuing war operations in Afghanistan, a situation that continues to deteriorate.
In the domestic scene, Obama faces public upset because of the lack of economic growth and high unemployment. Recently unemployment has begun to rebound (though ever so slightly), but the president needs to emphasize every success he can at the moment.
Obama’s first four years have been somewhat chaotic, but can be summed up in one term: weakness. The president had control of both the House and the Senate for half of his term, but passed a strategically flawed health care bill and also failed to pass a stimulus big enough to improve the economy. These failures stem from Obama’s pursuit of bi-partisanship. He sought help from the Republican Party that wanted to see nothing more than Obama as a one-term president. Their input on the bills helped them become legislative failures (such as lobbying for a smaller stimulus). Then Republicans used those failures as ammunition in their fight against the president. Obama was not strong enough to steamroll his bills through the legislative branch when he had control of Congress, and the resulting lack of respect spilled over into the second half of his first term. Political players stood up to Obama in a way that would have never happened to George W. Bush, which has led to such dramatic public blunders as the debt crisis.
Unlike Barack Obama, Americans have never seen Mitt Romney as a potentially transcendent figure. Romney has always been the safe pick, the consistent politician who, while reliable, nobody ever got excited about. The former governor of Massachusetts is no stranger to the nomination process, as he ran (and lost) in 2008 to eventual nominee John McCain.
Economically, Mitt Romney talks the talk of a typical modern era conservative. As the Governor of Massachusetts he raised almost half a billion dollars by doubling the costs of different state services. He also cut more than $400 million from K-12 and higher education, forcing a higher tax burden onto the towns themselves.
On social issues, however, Romney strays from the conventional conservative plotline. When the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that there was no constitutional reason to deny marriage to same sex couples, Romney enforced the court’s decision. However, he was under no obligation to do so, and in fact could have used his power as governor to refuse marriage licenses to same sex couples.
Even bolder, Romney initiated and signed into law a healthcare bill (now venomously called ‘Romneycare’ by opponents) that mandated that all residents of Massachusetts had to buy some form of healthcare insurance (with a state option) or face a $2000 fine. While the bill has been a success, with almost 98% of residents covered in 2010, its similarity to Obama’s bill has hurt him in the eyes of Republicans who aren’t sure if he’s a true conservative.
While Mitt Romney doesn’t energize the Republican base as much as a candidate li