Neither fired up nor ready to go

Obama rally won’t offer a substantive defense of liberal politics

By Jonathan Rodrigues

Everyone should go to the rally on Saturday! I’m not quite sure what it’s about, but I hear Common is excellent live, and I think the President is going to be there. Why he would choose such an oddly shaped, half under construction venue is beyond me, but hey, he’s coming back home! If you’re excited, it’s definitely warranted. It’s not every day you get the President a few hundred feet from your dorm. But that’s about as far as your excitement should go.

Don’t get me wrong, you should definitely go vote next week if you haven’t already (shame on you if you don’t!). But if you’re like me, a member of the un-“professional” left, you’re not too excited about all these rallies Obama has been doing lately. Rallies don’t win elections. Real leadership does. Besides, it seems Bill Clinton’s endorsements have been more effective in swinging voters this election, as some Democrats run as far away from the President’s image as possible.

So as the President lands in Chicago Saturday, he’ll probably be practicing one of those really inspiring speeches. I swear, if he mentions cars in ditches and not giving keys back to Republicans one more time, I might drive a car into a ditch myself. But no matter the rhetoric, what won’t be in his speech is substance. The Democrats consciously chose to run with a 50-state strategy of disorganization. No Democrat knows what the agenda really is for the next two years, and no Democrat dares to boast about the accomplishments of the party so far. So what’s left (no pun intended)? The “We’re not Republicans!” platform, of course.

It’s understandable; Republicans have candidates like Sharron Angle and her blatantly racist ads, Christine O’Donnell and her awe-inspiring lunacy, Mark Kirk and his compulsive lies, as well as a host of other hopefuls that run the spectrum from innocently ill-informed to straight-up crazy. It gets worse: Republicans don’t have an agenda either. When recently asked what the most important goal was for Republicans going forward, Mitch McConnell, leader of Republicans in the Senate, candidly responded, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Aside from these things, what else can President Obama attack Republicans for (if you’re reading this Mr. President, you’re welcome!)? He can highlight how Republicans are wholly owned subsidiaries of corporate America. If there’s one thing America hates right now, it’s corporations. He can attack them for voting down the DISCLOSE Act, a crucial piece of legislation that would have eliminated the millions of anonymous, possibly foreign, dollars that currently flood our electoral system and corrupt our democracy. No Republican in the Senate even voted for the bill’s passage. He can attack them for their lack of decency in voting down a bill that would pay for 9/11 workers’ healthcare because paying for it would close an offshore tax loophole. Or perhaps he could be even braver and scorch them for their recalcitrance in supporting the healthcare and financial reform bills. These are winning electoral strategies that resonate with voters, and best of all, they’re the truth. Trying to convince the electorate that the economy would be worse without you is a hard thing to do; it involves a lot of hypotheticals. These arguments, on the other hand, are simple, effective, and clear. It’s mystifying that President Obama doesn’t use them.

Any voter that can stop for a minute and sort out the facts would be crazy to vote for some of these Republican candidates. But voters just don’t have that time. We’re angry—very, very, very angry—and we don’t have time to think about whose fault it is or how crazy the other side is. And even though Republicans look ready to repeat the same policies that got us a decade of wage stagnation and, finally, a worldwide recession, they at least look very confident and united about repeating them! And that, that is present-day American politics at its finest.

Jonathan Rodrigues is a third-year in the College majoring in Latin American Studies