President Obama was elected in a minor landslide in 2008 with soaring rhetoric about hope, change, and “this American moment.” He promised many things, both specific policy decisions like closing Guantanamo Bay and letting the Bush tax cuts expire, to broader directions and goals like restoring America’s reputation abroad and making health care more affordable. Some of these promises he has delivered on, while others have clearly been ignored or outright reversed.
But the election is getting closer, and that means the lies and distortions are going to increase. Some decisions are essentially bipartisan consensus or favourable for all parties to avoid, and they will be ignored by virtually everyone, no matter whether they were a campaign promise or an egregious violation of law. (Ron Paul, for all his faults, can be thanked for being among the only influential voice to bring to light some of these more uncomfortable truths.) The relative importance of certain issues will be called into question, and many distortions and lies will manifest. Much will be made of the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument to support a candidate, sadly further setting in stone the offensive republican-vs-democrat two-party duopoly.
As always, voters must weigh what they know about each candidate and decide whether any issues are disqualifying. Sadly, this exercise is usually applied unequally: a partisan for party A will point out that B’s candidate did X and Y, thus demonstrating the unequivocal unelectability of B’s candidate. But that same partisan will rarely perform the same honest calculus for A’s candidate: sure, the partisan says, A did S and T, but that’s not nearly so bad as X and Y, so my candidate is the better choice. But the argument never was that X and Y are worse than other available options: it was that X and Y were damning in isolation. And might not a sober mind accuse anyone doing S or T of being unelectable if it weren’t for the fact that it was A’s candidate who did them?
It is to help clear up easily, often subconsciously, made fallacies of this sort, based on imperfect information or confirmation-biased rhetoric, that I am creating this series of pages. I intend to document and analyze Obama’s record over the last three years on what I believe to be some of the most significant issues. Hopefully this will function as a tool for readers to collect their thoughts and make a decision about whether they can support Obama for another term. I believe I will demonstrate that he ought not to be supported by analyzing his record in several key areas:
- Domestic Policy
- Foreign Policy
- Civil Liberties
- Rule of Law
- Leadership and Delegation
Check back often for updates, as his record is sure to evolve during the election year.