WASHINGTON, D.C., September 16, 2012 — The 2012 presidential election may be like the 1980 election, but Gov. Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan. And perhaps President Obama is not Jimmy Carter either, which is not such a bad thing.
Carter lost, and Obama could win. Not because the American public approve of his leadership – they don’t. 60 percent disapprove of his handling of the economy, 58 percent disapprove of his ability to create jobs, and 64 percent disapprove of his handling of the budget deficit, according to the most recent Gallup poll. He can win because voters do not view Mitt Romney as a viable alternative, not yet at least.
There is a pervasive angst and fear about the future of the country. Parents are worried about the future of their children. The American promise that if you work hard, and play by the rules, you can live the American Dream does not hold true for many Americans.
Unemployment remains high. Over 25 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. According to the latest U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the unemployment rate for African-Americans is 14 percent, 10 percent for Latinos, and 24 percent for teenagers.
Household incomes have fallen 8.1 percent since 2007. Just last year, the Census bureau reported that the median household income fell 1.5 percent to $50,054. No wonder only 37 percent of voters think the country is headed in the right direction according to a recent Rasmussen poll.
This is a country where millions of people are currently waiting in line hoping to be granted a visa to start a new life because they believe only in America can they thrive, fulfill their dreams and pursue happiness. Yet that hope seems to be missing in the American electorate. They are looking for a leader to give them a reason to hope.
Hope is the feeling that things will get better in the future. But without convincing and specific policy proposals to bolster that hope, it is a false hope. A fantasy. That’s not what the country wants. They see gridlock in Congress and want to know if there is a leader out there who can break the entrenched partisanship and forge an alliance to solve problems.
They do not want to hear just the typical chest-thumping “America is the greatest nation in the history of the world” rhetoric. They want a plan for the future that is specific and clear. They need what Richard Nixon called “the lift of a driving dream.” A vision that will lift people out of their hopelessness and despair.
Unfortunately, neither candidate is providing that lift.
Ayobami is a graduate student in George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. For questions, comments or story suggestions, contact him on Facebook and on twitter at @ayobamiao.
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