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How Obama Embodies The Ideal Democratic Candidate

Michael Bergsma |
October 3, 2012 | 4:52 p.m. PDT

Guest Contributor

"How Obama Embodies The Ideal Democratic Candidate" is part two of the series "Political Perspectives."

(Dawn Megli / Creative Commons)
(Dawn Megli / Creative Commons)
Given the wide variety of views within the Democratic party, it’s hard to say if somebody is the candidate who best represents your party.

For every Democrat who loves Obama’s tough stance on foreign policy, there’s another who decries his increasing use of drone strikes. But perhaps this indicates why Obama does represent the best of the Democratic Party; it comes down to his ability to be a president for all, a president whose first term has shown a strong devotion to and focus on job creation, universal health care, a strong social safety net to help Americans in times of difficulty, and social equality for people of all genders, sexualities, nationalities and identities.

In a time of major political polarization, Obama supported a compromise based on the framework of one conservative Massachusetts governor a few years back. What resulted was not just the passage of a bill called the Affordable Care Act, but also a major transformation of the way healthcare operates and is delivered in this country. Young adults up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ health insurance plans (a provision from which I am currently benefiting). Insurance companies can no longer deny people coverage because of pre-existing conditions. And coverage for preventative care for women has been strengthened, allowing women to take better control of their health and reproductive rights.

But it’s not just in the realm of healthcare that President Obama has fought for equality. There is a simple division between the parties on the issue of marriage. This isn’t just a significant issue because universal marriage is so important to the LGBTQ community, but because it also indicates a level of general acceptance and promotion of LGBTQ rights. Not only has the Obama administration stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act (which Bill Clinton signed into law), but Obama also pushed for the successful repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And, finally, while sexual orientation receives much of the media focus, Obama has also been instrumental in pushing for transgender rights by preventing discrimination in federal employment and making sure transgender veterans get healthcare that respects their gender identity.

All of this has come in addition to our recovery from one of the worst financial crashes since the Great Depression. When Obama took office, we were losing about 800,000 jobs a month. That’s not just an economic indicator; that’s a serious crisis. Yet, through the Recovery Act, Auto Bailout and Wall Street Regulation, we’ve had over 30 straight months of private sector job growth.

Republicans have insisted on slashing the size of government, and providing no more stimulus spending. We saw our country's credit rating get downgraded as Congressional Republicans refused to compromise to raise the debt ceiling. Consistently, Republicans have made reducing the deficit and giving tax cuts to the wealthy a priority over fixing the economy and creating jobs for Americans. At a time when investors are paying the United States to borrow their money, Republicans shot down the American Jobs Act - a proposal by President Obama that would have cut taxes for small businesses, made important investments in our infrastructure and prevented the layoff of hundreds of thousands of teachers.

In fact, what’s dragging down the employment numbers is the massive number of public sector layoffs. Compare this to Bush’s first term in office, during which there was no net job creation, private sector job growth stagnated and the only thing keeping the jobs numbers positive was the increase in public sector employment. Tax cuts and deregulation produced no economic boom; since Republicans continue to advocate tax cuts as a solution to America's economic woes, why would Romney’s presidency be any different from Bush’s?

Obama is asking the nation to let the (what was supposed to be temporary) tax cuts for millionaires expire and let their rates return to the levels we had during the Clinton boom years. Romney and the Republican Party have put forward their plan for the country, which involves massive tax cuts and unspecified spending cuts. According to independent analysis, Romney mathematically cannot reduce the deficit and cut taxes to the levels he is proposing without cutting a significant amount of spending that benefits the middle class and poor. As Bill Clinton said, it’s basic arithmetic.

We’ve seen a growing trend of increasing income inequality in this country. Poverty is still a big problem. And college graduates are having an extremely tough time in the job market. In the face of extreme Republican opposition, Obama represents the best of the Democratic Party in tackling these issues and ensuring that all Americans have opportunities to succeed.

This is no quick and easy task, nor is it the only task at hand. Even this article has only touched on a part of Obama’s record, saying nothing about his achievements in foreign policy, immigration and the environment. And while I love many of Obama’s policies, I cannot say I agree with all of them. What I can say, though, is that President Obama’s policies have championed a devotion to the success of all Americans.

As Obama said back in his 2008 nomination acceptance speech,

“That’s the promise of America – the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.”

It’s that promise that Obama has best represented in his first four years as president, and will hopefully continue to represent throughout his next term.


Editor's Note: Read an article explaining how Romney embodies the ideal Republican candidate here.

Read part one of the series "Political Perspectives" here and here.



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