While President Obama lifts his presidency to champion the cause of jobs that are made in the USA, his Republican opponents stake their plans for power, to a degree that no great party in the history of the republic has ever attempted, on the prospect of the American economy failing.
What is not appreciated by most commentators, who are consumed by hourly news cycles and insider punditry about political tactics, is that in the last six months there has been a fundamental shift in Obama’s vision of his presidency that has begun to transform the contours of the campaign in ways that elevate the prospects for Democrats.
Historians will someday look to the president’s speech in Kansas celebrating Teddy Roosevelt, who would be called a socialist by many Republicans if he were with us today, and his State of the Union address, which was a call for a patriotic capitalism of shared purpose and prosperity, as marking a historic evolution of the Obama presidency. It will transform the campaign, shape his mandate and define his second term if he is reelected.
To give one powerful example: The president’s championing of pay equity for women is a stunning example of where the president is right and his opponents are wrong on a fundamental matter of economic, moral and political principle for all fair people and more than half the voting electorate.
While Republicans defend economic disparities with adoration of ancient Austrian economists and the proud atheist “libertarian” Ayn Rand, who attacked Ronald Reagan and called John Kennedy the same names Republicans now call Barack Obama — Obama battles for patriotic capitalism, “Made in the USA” jobs, pay equity for women, and a spirit of shared purpose and success.
Obama 2.0 is singing on key to the real America, talking about matters they care about, battling for policies that will better their lives, championing the American notion of fair play and taking to voters a narrative that is clear, consistent and compelling.
Last May and June I wrote a series of columns advocating for Made in the USA and calling for a national wave movement to buy American products made by American workers, sold by American companies, creating American jobs, lifting the American economy and mobilizing the American people.
The president has embarked on a profoundly important and historic course as the champion of this red, white and blue capitalism.
Let his opponents call him a European or a Kenyan while he fights for jobs for Main Street, heartland America and the great cities of the nation. Let his opponents hope America fails economically so they can succeed politically and obstruct his proposals to create new Made in America jobs because those jobs threaten the GOP strategy of exploiting the pain of joblessness, even at the cost of punishing the workers of the nation.
The voters will see through it. When a millionaire former hack for Freddie Mac offers to attack the “food-stamp president” before the NAACP around Martin Luther King’s birthday, he insults the legacy of Lincoln. When the man some Republicans call a “vulture” attacks the president as a European socialist and champions low-taxed wealth sheltered by Swiss banks and Cayman Island accounts that is achieved through massive layoffs, he demeans the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt that the president has seized.
If the president runs as the champion of patriotic capitalism and Made in America jobs and works his heart out to bring the next Morning in America while his opponents act like the “hope America fails” party that has bet its ranch that the American economy fails — Obama will win, by a knockout.
White House photos by Pete Souza.