In 1984 Ronald Reagan sought a second term under the campaign theme of a sunny optimism about the future – "Morning in America." A generation later, Obama's campaign banner, "Forward," is cleverly ambiguous: It begs the question, forward to what?
The voter is left to insert his own hopes and dreams into the Obama future. Unfortunately for Obama and his legions, most voters see only nightmares and catastrophes if Obama is continued in office.
Obama will not campaign on his record because he can't. He has no successes to brag about, not in economic policy, not in foreign policy, not in energy, nor in education or any other area. His record is one of non-accomplishment in every field he has entered.
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Thus, Obama's only campaign theme and only message is a suitable negativism, a cynical message which increasingly appeals only to his base, the angry ideologues and congenital pessimists who make up the radical left in America. Confronted by his policy failures, Obama must change the subject.
The irony is that the Obama campaign message has become more honest as its attack ads become more desperate. He has begun to openly attack our country's virtues and strengths as he seeks to explain why his policies haven't worked. This should not be a surprise. The Obama left sees all of America's problems as rooted in the evil of capitalism, so when pushed to the wall, they must attack capitalism itself, not just its "excesses."
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To Obama and his army of taxpayer-funded community organizers, the America he inherited was so screwed up he needs eight years to fix it, not four. That makes perfect sense to them; in fact, they knew it all along. If they could amend the Constitution to make Obama president for life, they would.
This is the perennial whine of the socialist reformer: Capitalism must be torn out by the root, and that takes time. And, of course, it takes radical measures. And if Congress proves recalcitrant, then ignore Congress and do it by executive decree. We've seen a lot of that imperial arrogance in Obama's first term, and we would see a deluge of it in his second.
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So, the Obama campaign is devolving into one of unrelenting negativism, slander and character assassination. In that effort, he has an advantage previous demagogues of the left in America history did not have. He has the support and active assistance of the mainstream news media.
Our nation has never seen such a shamelessly biased and brazenly partisan news media as we have today. Yes, in the early days of our republic newspapers were very partisan, and they played fast and loose with the facts. The difference is this: In the 19th century, newspapers were open and candid about their loyalties. They did not pretend to be neutral and unbiased. Today, the mainstream media's bias is hidden behind a smokescreen of pious platitudes, and that presents a special problem in a close election.
News media bias can be overcome, and citizens have more diverse sources of information than at any time in our history. However, Obama has a hidden advantage in one hidden dimension of media election coverage, and his campaign is relying on this hidden advantage as a secret weapon.
That Obama secret weapon is the mass of uninterested and uninvolved citizens who do not follow the issues, do not have multiple sources of information and, in fact, usually do not vote. But Obama wants them to vote. Why? Well, just coincidentally, their main source of political information is the mainstream news media, and studies have shown that this group of millions of non-voters will vote for Democrats by a two-to-one margin if led to the polls.
In the planned manipulation of the uninformed non-voter we see on open display the naked cynicism and hypocrisy of the American left. If you are losing the argument, change the subject. And if that doesn't work, dilute the vote. The Democratic Party no longer wants an informed electorate, they want only a compliant one.