It’s presidential election time! The candidates: One embattled incumbent, much derided by the opposing party, fights for reelection. The other a man with presidential looks, from a privileged background with a large personal fortune mercilessly attacks his opponent’s record in office.
It’s 2004 and those candidates are George W. Bush and John Kerry.
Not what you were expecting? Oh, that could describe this election too, couldn’t it? Huh!
There are a lot of similarities between this election and that of 2004, but even more between the two challengers. In fact, I’ll go as far as to call Mitt Romney a Republican John Kerry. I doubt I’m the first to make this comparison, since it’s pretty obvious. (I could Google it, of course, but I want to make sure what I write here are my own thoughts. If I later see that I duplicated the thoughts of others, it just lends credence to my argument.)
Let’s look at how Mitt and John are alike, shall we?
- Religious (John Kerry is Roman Catholic)
- Born to privilege (and seen to be out of touch with the plight of the common man)
- Law school educated
- Possess large personal fortunes
- Considered to have “presidential looks”
- Known as a flip flopper
- Perceived by many to not have much personality
- Supported more out of hate for his opponent than for his own merits
I think the main thing here is the last point. Mitt Romney doesn’t inspire much passion among Republicans, just as Kerry didn’t among Democrats. I remember writing a blog post in 2004 supporting Kerry; my praise was tepid, and boiled down to “Hey, he’s better than the other guy!”. And that seems to be what’s happening now. Most people don’t actually like Romney, or think he’s a great candidate. He’s the guy that made it through the primaries by being the least offensive choice (that’s my theory anyway) and it’s what the GOP is stuck with. They have mostly been pushing Mitt as the not-Obama candidate. And they must have seen the problem (surely they remember 2004 too) and we saw a thrust at the RNC convention last week to “humanize” Mitt Romney. I laugh a bit whenever I hear that. You know you have a problem when you have to make a concerted effort to make your candidate seem like a human! Will it be enough? I don’t know.
Given the strong parallels between 2012 and 2004, I am hoping for similar results, though not by similar means (I can’t condone “swift-boating”, and I hope no Democrats sink that low). I just hope people’s hatred for Obama (without getting into whether or not it’s justified) isn’t enough to drag them out to vote for someone of whom their opinion could best be summarized as “Meh!”