Common Sense for 2012

Common Sense for 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald once offered some sound advice to those left-wing Americans unsure whether to support Barack Obama’s campaign for re-election. “The test of a first-rate intelligence,” observed the novelist, “is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

The president has clearly disappointed many of those who hoped he would initiate another New Deal or Great Society and turn conservatives into a defensive, impotent minority. In the Occupy movement, one hears the 2012 contest for the White House described as “yet another stale election between Wall Street– financed candidates” and the like. Yet, the Right that controls the Republican Party views Obama as a “socialist” who, if given the chance, would redistribute wealth, empower unions, and regulate big business more stringently than any president in U.S. history.

The only way to resolve these contradictory thoughts is with a little common sense, bolstered by some historical perspective. Obama, like every other major party nominee, must raise millions of dollars from wealthy Americans and thus cannot alienate all of them if he expects to hold onto the presidency. But Obama has also signed bills that aim to prevent the kind of financial abuses that largely brought about the Great Recession—as well as a major reform and expansion of the health care system. And he has appointed thousands of men and women who, away from the me...

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