Gary Younge writes: At a dinner table in Akron, Ohio, recently half a dozen Democratic activists took a break from trashing Ralph Nader for allowing a Bush victory in 2000 to discuss the material benefits of Barack Obama’s first term. One had been able to keep his children on his healthcare plan after graduation; another with a pre-existing condition had been able to move plans without penalty. Then there was an awkward silence, broken by the mention of the jobs saved in Toledo, 140 miles away, by the auto bailout. That brought us on to Republican Mitt Romney’s call to “Let Detroit go bankrupt“. And soon, the conversation is flowing as easily as the beer as talk turns to how bad things might have been – and could yet be – with Republicans at the helm.
Such are the cramped parameters within which Democratic loyalists converse. Questions about poverty, bankers, inequality, climate change or drone attacks are not engaged with a defence of Obama’s record on the economy, regulation, the environment or foreign policy but avoided with a threat: Romney. Speculation about what Obama might have done differently are met with arguments about what Bush did do wrong. Inquire if Obama will get more done if elected, and they shrug and point to the obstructionist Republicans in Congress.
Dare to prod further as to why anyone should vote for him given the likelihood that Republicans will win in Congress and they’ll take you right back where you started: Romney. Any question about the good things that might have happened as a result of Obama’s victory in 2008 is short-circuited by a response about the bad things that might happen as a result of his defeat in 2012. Hope curdled to fear. Everyone can tell you how things get worse; no one can tell you how they get better. [Continue reading...]