Editorial: Fear in place of passion

In the wake of the first presidential debate, rank and file of the Democrats are likely less enamored with President Obama than they have been since his election four years ago. His lackluster performance in that debate, his failure to defend his policies and to point out obvious falsehoods by Mitt Romney have temporarily cost the president the enthusiastic support of his base.
But while Romney has rejuvenated his campaign, his sharp shift to embrace key aspects of Obamacare, suddenly suggest he would be more lenient on abortion, back-pedal on implementing tax cuts for the wealthy if they create a deficit, soften his rhetoric on changing Medicare and Medicaid, and so on, will also give pause to right-wing Republicans as he tries to defend those moves to the political center.
One consequence is that the election has become more about defeating the other guy out of the fear of what it would mean if he were elected, than it is supporting the candidate voters are passionate about.
For Democrats, the fear is palatable: the Romney-Ryan ticket is one that takes benefits away from the poor and middleclass and gives monetary advantage to the wealthy; turns the Medicare plan into a voucher system overseen by the private sector and would seek to dismantle the progress made under Obamacare; scraps the reforms made under Dodd-Frank on banks and financial institutions and creates the opportunity for individuals to again be exploited; and it’s a ticket that embraces profiling of immigrants and treating them as outsiders to our country and disdains the 47 percent of Americans that Romney writes off as victims seeking handouts. In short, the Romney-Ryan ticket is the antithesis of Democrat’s core beliefs.
But while fear can motivate citizens to vote against the other guy, it’s not the driving force that being a passionate supporter can be. Of the two presidential candidates, Obama has the better opportunity to re-excite his base in the next two debates (as does Vice-President Joe Biden in Thursday’s debate), while Romney and Ryan will be defending their flip-flops on the issues and irritating ardent supporters on the right by moving to the center.
Even so, politics at this stage is all about articulating a vision and creating the appropriate drama to get the message across; we’ll see soon enough whether the president can rise to the occasion.
Angelo S. Lynn

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