More than most elections, the contest for President this fall is likely to be decided less on “wedge issues” — or even candidate positions that are symbolic of who is on whose side — and more on the character and core values of the candidates — and for that matter on the question of the core values of the society we hope to leave to our children.
Last Friday, speaking to the Democratic Caucus Policy Conference, Vice-President Joe Biden told a story that speaks volumes about the character of Barack Obama.
According to Biden, the day before he ordered the raid that finally stopped Osama Bin Laden, President Obama met with his top national security advisers in the Situation Room. At the close of the meeting, he went around the room asking each person for his or her recommendation on whether to launch the risky nighttime mission.
Then the President stood and told his advisers he would let them know of his decision in the morning.
The next day, as Obama stepped onto his helicopter to leave on a day trip, he turned to his National Security Adviser, Tom Donilan, and issued a simple order:
To quote Biden, “The President has a backbone like a ramrod.”
Whether or not you like all of his policies — or all of his decisions — it’s hard to argue that Barack Obama is not a tough, decisive guy — a guy who is guided by solid core principles and has a disciplined, laser-focused will. This is not a President that flip-flops in the political wind or is swayed by the last person who talks to him. Above all, Barack Obama is centered. He has a solid core built around strong core values.
Obama has remained determined and unflappable in the face of the toughest economic and political environment in sixty years and has emerged from three years of battle ready to wage a highly organized, focused campaign this fall that will center on most fundamental question facing our society: whether we will have a nation where we look out for each other, and have each other’s back — or a society where we are all in this alone.
Contrast that kind of President — and that kind of campaign — with Obama’s likely opponent, Mitt Romney.
Voters want leaders who believe in something other than their own election. Quite correctly they want leaders with a strong moral center. They want leaders who make and keep commitments to their principles and to other people. And they want to know that the candidates they support are the leaders they will get after the election — not, as John Huntsman said of Romney, “a well-oiled weathervane”.
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Romney has never seen a position he couldn’t change if he determined it would be to his advantage to do so. He thinks of politics as a business marketing project, where you say what you think you need to in order to maximize sales. Romney doesn’t think of voters as citizens to be engaged — he thinks of them as customers to be manipulated.
In the end, it is likely that the ultimate irony of the Romney campaign will be that his own willingness to toss aside positions and values that might at one time or another have appeared inconvenient, will ultimately weigh him down more than anything else.
Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.
Read this article in it’s entirety on the Huffington Post