By Ed McManus
He has done some amazing things in three and a half years: Rescued the country from economic catastrophe, won passage of the historic health care act, got us out of Iraq, stood up for women and for gays. Most importantly, Barack Obama is a man of integrity–a person we can be very proud of as our President.
But, alas, we continue to get caught up in petty issues. We allow the media–the 24-hour news cycle–to suck us into picking him apart. They salivate when they find something controversial to dwell on, and we stare at the Tube and let them distract us from what needs to be our goal: Defeating a candidate and a party that are all wrong, and re-electing the President.
The latest kerfuffle came this week. Somehow, the Democratic Party platform, as drafted by the platform committee, neglected to deal with the issue of what city should be the capital of Israel, and the word “God” did not appear anywhere in the document. Reportedly, the President himself, when he found out about it, directed that Jerusalem and God both get back in.
The 2008 platform included a line stating that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” Of course, the Palestinians believe Jerusalem should be their capital if and when Palestine ever becomes a separate state. But American politicians of both parties do their utmost to woo the Jewish vote, so they are usually eager to take a pro-Israeli stand. Given the heavy Jewish population in swing state Florida, the issue has even more significance. So that language has been restored.
The platform has an extensive section on faith: “People of faith and religious organizations do amazing work in communities across this country and the world, etc. etc.” But somehow the portion about the government’s role in helping people reach their “God-given potential” got dropped. So now it’s back.
As a progressive Democrat who strongly supports a two-state solution in the Middle East and generally leans toward the Palestinian point of view, I would be fine with leaving the issue of the capital out of the platform. And as a Humanist, I don’t go out of my way to push for references to God.
But this is politics, folks. If Obama and his people, who are a lot more skilled than I am at political strategy, think including Jerusalem and God in the platform will help them, who am I to question it?
Some progressives were disappointed that the President did not take stronger stands during his first term on issues that he had campaigned on–did not stand up to the House Republicans. I, myself, wondered at times about positions he took, or didn’t take. But then I reminded myself that people like Axelrod and Emanuel are a lot smarter than I am–at least, that’s my opinion.
Politics involves compromise. When I look back two decades ago to when I was a member of a local school board, I wish I had been more open to compromising with my fellow board members–I think I could have accomplished a lot more.
Politics requires compromise. I would never advocate that a politician toss away his ideals and values in a major way to win votes, as Mr. Romney has repeatedly done. But a politician in a close election needs to worry about the Independent vote and not become too carried away with pleasing his base. That is just the hard reality of politics.
As we approach November, we progressives need to put all our efforts into defeating Romney and re-electing President Obama. He is not perfect–no politician is–but I think he’s fantastic, and the country sorely needs four more years of him in the White House.
Ed McManus is a Wilmette, IL, attorney and a former Chicago Tribune editor/reporter.