RIP Nelson Mandela. The World Will Long Remember
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Isaiah J. Poole, "Message to Obama: Go Bold on Jobs or Go Down In Defeat", Campaign for America's Future, yesterday.
....Obama is failing to communicate a compelling economic agenda for change. The Tuesday night town hall debate may be the president's last chance to position himself as the change agent that the voters demand. And the key to doing that is convincing voters that it is he, not Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who will move the country toward a full-employment economy.
"In the first debate, Obama did not make a bold case for the bold policies he would offer in the next four years," the memo, written by Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Erica Seifert, said. It goes on to say, "Obama lost the attention of independents and unmarried women when he spoke about economic progress or talked about the progress of the last four years. With most of the President’s surrogates saying, 'give him more time to finish the job' and with the President closing the debate almost making the same small offer, Romney got the opportunity to be heard as the voice of change."
In other words, Romney is selling a bland product to the middle class with slick marketing. What Obama is selling strikes voters as more of the same that they have been getting for the past four years: a plodding and uncertain slog out of the deep crater of the 2008 financial crash through the Washington thicket of partisan obstruction and occasional deal-cutting.
While the slogan of the campaign is "forward," Obama is in danger of losing the argument over whether he has the stuff to actually move America to a different place from where it is today.
Democracy Corps' polling on how competing economic narratives resonate with voters shows that "voters do not want a continuation; they want change. Indeed, they want bold change – and they are hoping that is what the president has in store."
By more than a two-to-one margin—67 percent to 29 percent—voters in the Democracy Corps survey say major changes are called for to solve America's problems. And there is no ambiguity on what Americans see as the number one issue: jobs (51 percent, compared to 43 percent for government deficits).
One message that has the potential of galvanizing voters includes the statement that "trillions of dollars of capital is idle and millions are unemployed, and that's wrong. We need to put this money and people back to work right now rebuilding our nation's energy, transportation, and water systems. This is the best way to grow the economy and reduce our debt burden." In Democracy Corps' polling, 64 percent agreed with this statement.
President Obama in fact has a specific proposal that would begin to do just that: the American Jobs Act. If it had been passed when Obama first introduced it in 2011, Macroeconomic Advisers estimated that this year it would have lowered unemployment by 1.3 million, likely bringing the unemployment rate closer to 7 percent or less. It was stonewalled by Republicans in Congress wedded to an agenda of tax cuts and deregulation for the 1 percent and austerity for the rest of America, and Romney has cheered them on.
The American Jobs Act is frankly best viewed as a down payment toward the full-employment agenda the country needs. Nonetheless, it is time for Obama to put the blueprint upon which the American Jobs Act was based at the forefront of his campaign. First, he should declare that 12 million jobs are not enough in four years, because they aren't. That would still leave unemployment at an unacceptably high 6 percent or more in 2016, with unemployment rates still in double digits among African Americans and Hispanics, and in a significant number of urban and rural areas. We must do better than that, and we can.
I disagree with the implication of the title of this article--that Obama will lose unless he "goes bold" for his close. He may win even if he doesn't. Of course I could be entirely off base, but I think his chances go up if he does, in ways that are consistent with what he has done some of, but hasn't emphasized nearly enough--particularly the American Jobs Act.
He supported that bill. He called on Congress to pass it now (then). The Republicans blocked it. Now is a heck of a good time to press this issue as one he will press going forward. It also makes a very specific point, on an issue of overriding importance to the voters, as to why they should give him a constructive Congress to work with beginning in January 2013.
Now is the time. The relatively few people who have not made up their minds, who may be persuadable, are paying attention right now. I would think viewership for tonight's debate, given what transpired at the first debate (where it did indeed change the dynamic of the race and put it in a different place right now), should be high.
So, Mr. President, please give the people watching more, and a little more specific, reasons for grounded hope that a 2nd Obama term is more clearly likely to lead to forward motion, with a Congress committed to investing in America and creating jobs here in the US. Doing so hardly requires you to shape shift the way your opponent does, just make some on-the-fly late campaign adjustments--in response to the realities of how the race is in a different place, right now. Rope-a-dope, Romney is awful (he is, truly) may work. But up your (very grounded, very concrete) hope game in lieu of over-relying on what is essentially a fear game premised on being able to get enough voters to see Romney for who and what he is.
It absolutely is not too late to do this.
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