With just one day left before the polls open, Democrats have settled on a closing message to the 2012 campaign that portrays the Obama presidency as a brief moment of enlightenment in America’s bleak past and future.
America used to be a place of economic, racial, and sexual oppression–and it would be again, Democrats argue, if the country turned to Romney instead of rewarding Obama with a second term in office.
That is what Obama means when he invokes the repeated refrain–“We’ve come too far to turn back now.”
It’s an idea expressed more crudely by the likes of Cher, who warned in a new ad: “Don’t let Mitt turn back time on women.”
It’s also expressed by Democrat strategist Robert Creamer–a convicted felon who is closely linked to Obama’s senior advisers and frequently broadcasts the party’s talking points at the Huffington Post.
Creamer designed the political strategy for selling Obamacare to the American public, advising Democrats: “To win we must not just generate understanding, but emotion–fear, revulsion, anger, disgust.” After Scott Brown defeated Martha Coakley in January 2010, he concluded that Democrats had not been negative enough. Those insights have been reflected in the Obama re-election campaign, right down to the final rallies.
In his last column before the election, Creamer tells the story of an elderly woman who was born in 1917 “in a country where there was an unimaginable gulf between a few fabulously wealthy oligarchs, and the masses of ordinary people”; where women could not vote; where blacks suffered discrimination and gays suffered prosecution; and so on.
That country, Creamer reveals–surprise, surprise–is the United States of America.
He does not mention any of the things that made the United States great, even then, in a year when Americans crossed the ocean to liberate European nations from tyranny and war; at a time when millions of immigrants were passing through Ellis Island on their way to free and prosperous lives; at a time when the bloody revolution that would inspire the left throughout the world was plunging Russia into communist dictatorship.
Creamer goes on to provide a laundry list of horrors that await America is Romney is elected, including the repeal of Obamacare, increases in military spending, and the appointment of “the same Neo-Con foreign policy advisers who got us into the Iraq War.”
And, of course, Romney would attack entitlements, outlaw abortion, and “return us to a time we could scarcely imagine”–the mythical, nightmarish America of 1917.
That is the same basic story that Obama and his running mate have been telling from their teleprompters–that before us, there was darkness, and after us, there is no light.
Romney and Ryan, ironically, have begun talking of hope and change, with Romney stressing optimism and patriotism, and refraining from some of the direct attacks his supporters might have wanted to see on the Benghazi scandal, for instance.
The distinction is more than just a difference in tone, as between President Barack Obama’s call for “revenge” and Republican Mitt Romney’s appeal to “love of country.”
It is a fundamental difference in ideas about what kind of country the United States really is: a morally troubled nation conceived in original sin and in need of political salvation; or a great nation whose faith and principles can overcome any flaws and obstacles.