#4: Romney Has Crossover Appeal

Artur Davis, formerly a Democratic Representative from Alabama, spoke at the Republican National Convention this year. In 2008, he gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention seconding Obama’s nomination. And he was a co-chair of Obama’s national campaign in 2008. But this year, he attended the Republican National Convention to support Romney.

Davis spoke of his reasons for changing allegiance and challenged Democrats and independents to compare the two candidates and decide which one better measures up to their vision of America.

Do you know why so many of us believed [in Obama in 2008]? We led with our hearts and our dreams that we could be more inclusive than America had ever been, and no candidate had ever spoken so beautifully. But dreams meet daybreak. The jobless know what I mean, so [do] the families who wonder how this Administration could wreck a recovery for three years and counting…. Remember, my friends, the President saying of negative politics and untrue ads, “Not this time?” Who knew “not this time” just meant “not unless the economy is stuck and we can’t run on our record?” Remember when the President said of his own election this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal? Who knew the plain English version of it was, “Middle America, get ready to shell out 60 bucks to fill up your car?”… So, this time, in the name of 23 million of our children and parents and brothers and sisters who are officially unemployed, underemployed, or who have stopped looking for work, let’s put the poetry aside, let’s suspend the hype, let’s come down to earth and start creating jobs again. This time, instead of moving oceans and healing planets, let’s pay our bills down and pay down the debt … so we control our own future. And, of course, we know that opportunity lies outside the reach of some of our people. We don’t need flowery words about inequality to tell us that, and we don’t need a party that has led — while poverty and hunger rose to record levels — to give us lectures about suffering…. Bill Clinton, Jack Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson reached across the aisle and said, “Meet me in the middle,” but their party rammed through a healthcare bill that took over one-sixth of our economy without accepting a single Republican idea, without winning a single vote in either house from a party whose constituents make up half of this country…. This is the dawn before we remember who we are. So, may it be said of this time in our history: 2008 to 2011, lesson learned. 2012, mistake corrected.

If the man who seconded Obama’s nomination has come out in support of Romney, it may be worthwhile for Democrats and independents to evaluate Obama’s promises and his track record and decide if there is a better source for hope and change.

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Top 10 Reasons Why an Independent Voter Should Consider Romney, Starting with #10: Collaboration

One of the most obvious facts of national politics is that Washington faces some of the most challenging issues ever (including the solvency of Social Security, not to mention the solvency of our national government). The corollary to this fact is that Washington is broken – with plenty of fault to assign to both sides of the aisle – and, without some serious collaboration, serious solutions remain unlikely.

In Clinton’s nominating speech this week, he proclaimed Obama to be a great compromiser. NPR – not typically considered to be a Republican rag – did a fact check on Clinton’s claim, citing key examples of Obama’s failure to forge compromise:

  • The “grand bargain” budget agreement, which failed to come anywhere close to fruition, and
  • The Simpson-Bowles recommendations for fixing Social Security and Medicare, which failed to result in meaningful reform. NPR concluded that Obama’s response to the recommendations “ensured the tough compromises would not get made.

Let’s take a look at healthcare reform as an example of the relative ability of the two presidential candidates to succeed at collaboration:

  • The final House vote on Obamacare was 219-212 with 34 Democrats joining all Republicans in voting against the measure. No matter how you feel about the bill, it’s clear that there was a failure of leadership in forging compromise.
  • The final vote on Romneycare was very lopsided, with 198 representatives supporting the measure and only 2 representatives opposing it. In the Massachusetts Senate, not a single Senator voted against the bill. The Massachussets House was 85% Democrat at the time Romneycare passed. Romney’s ability to work across the aisle on a complicated and contentious issue demonstrates significant leadership in collaboration and compromise, while Obama’s ability to lead in collaboration and compromise remains as possibly his most disappointing failure to deliver on a campaign promise.

One other measure of the relative success of achieving leadership in collaboration is how the two leaders satisfied their respective electorates in the area of healthcare reform. In Massachusetts, recent polls show Romneycare growing in popularity, with 63% supporting the law. In contrast,  50% of Americans want to repeal Obamacare, according to a national poll released this week.

If you’re not a hard-core ideologue of the left or of the right, it seems to me that you should give serious consideration to Romney’s track record of working across the aisle to forge solutions with staying power. On the other hand, you may want to exercise a healthy dose of scepticism that Obama’s failure to produce a track record of collaboration in his first four years would have much hope of change during a second term.