Most of you have probably wondered why I have been notably silent about the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. I can assure you that as a PhD student in Public Affairs, I have been paying a lot of attention to these debates. Indeed, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Big Bird tweets after the first Presidential debate and I agreed with Vice President Joe Biden when he called the policies of his opponents “a bunch of malarkey.” I’ve just been a bit too busy and distracted lately to share my political thoughts.
On Friday, I was texting with a friend who you all know as Lady-In-Waiting, my occasional guest blogger, about a nonsensical conversation that was taking place on her Facebook page. She had posted a status about how watching a documentary on Emmett Till—the African-American child who had been killed in the 1955 after whistling at a Caucasian woman in the South—had reaffirmed her commitment to voting for President Barack Obama after she became aware of President Dwight Eisenhower’s delay on dealing with the tragedy. Somehow, the conversation devolved into one in which several Caucasian women were talking about black-on-white racism and even bringing up Stacey Dash’s irrelevant endorsement of Governor Mitt Romney. As we conversed, we came to the conclusion that a lot of people are completely ignorant of the impact of racism and the overall mechanics of the Political process. It became clear to me last night that Governor Romney is taking advantage of this ignorance.
Last night, Governor Romney’s main strategy was to point out how many promises President Obama has been unable to keep since his inauguration in 2009 while pivoting from offering any critiques of real substance. This strategy has been largely successful because President Obama’s campaign was able to attract a lot of first-time and previously apathetic voters who would not understand the intricacies of politics. President Obama inherited a horrendous economy from President Bush. In order to prevent a total collapse in our economy, he was forced to place many of his own initiatives on hold. The resulting dissatisfaction made it possible for the Democratic Party to lose its supermajority in the House to Republicans with Tea Party leanings during midterm elections, which led to the deadlock that has defined the recent years of his presidency. Unfortunately, many people overestimate the power of the President. The reality is that he (or she) can only be as successful as the lobbyist-controlled atmosphere of Washington DC allows.
Governor Romney also took advantage of the fact that many American voters do not follow politics closely enough to notice that his overall political ideology changes by the minute. The Governor Romney who debated last night is far more moderate than the Governor Romney who won the Republican primaries a few months ago. In addition, he has somehow inexplicably managed to escape the ire of his 47% remark because many Republican members of that 47% are too naïve to even realize that he was talking about them. Thankfully, President Obama used the last two minutes of the debate to call Governor Romney out on his overall attitude toward most Americans.
Truth be told, President Obama embarrassed Governor Romney on several issues including Libya, pension plans, and immigration. It’s safe to say that President Obama is back in the game, though I am still a bit annoyed by how much clout people give to aggression and presentation over arguably more important issues like policies when rating debate performances. I guess that’s just further evidence of the shamefully powerful role that political ignorance plays in election strategies.