The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 8, 2012

Democrats go looking for God, find Reagan as well

By Nerissa Young


The Democrats found God.

Apparently, he went missing a while back, but a last-minute amendment during the Dems’ convention this week got God back into the party platform and just in time. They’re going to need all the help they can get.

The vote was questionable. On National Public Radio, the number yelling “yes” or “no” to put God back in sounded about even, but convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa deemed the “yeses” amounted to the two-thirds required for a party platform amendment.

Both party tickets are locked in what some say will be a death match to come out on top in November. In 2008, they pandered to the undecideds. This year, the undecideds are few, so ticket leaders are pandering to solidify their bases.

“The freedom to love whom they want” was as familiar a chant this week in the Democrats’ attempt to hold onto gay voters as “you didn’t build that” was last week in the Republicans’ attempt to hold onto small-town America.

Job numbers released Friday should give the Democrats a nice post-convention bump, though.

And the Democrats were far better at channeling former Republican President Ronald Reagan during Thursday night’s activities than the Republicans did in Florida the week before.

President Obama’s acceptance speech had a definitive “Morning in America” ring to it, smacking of the optimism, hope and eternal faith in America that swept Reagan into the White House in 1980.

Obama’s was a classic speech delivered well.

But the realities of American life aren’t accompanied with confetti and fireworks projected onto a screen. The country is still hurting, and voters are still looking for someone to lead the way.

While Obama certainly looked and sounded presidential Thursday night, he did not lay out any specific plans for the next four years while lampooning Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for failing to do so.

He acknowledged he was a different man than when he first spoke at the convention eight years ago. “Eight years later that hope has been tested by the cost of war, by one of the worst economic crises in history and by political gridlock that’s left us wondering whether it’s still even possible to tackle the challenges of our time.”

That is this election in a nutshell. While Obama was quick to criticize Congress, he was also equally quick to take credit for things that Congress voted for.

Remember that the Democrats controlled the executive and legislative branches during his first two years in office and gridlock persisted.

While Obama touted his record of leadership, the harsh fact remains that for the past three years, Congress and the president have not been able to approve a budget on time. The country is operating on temporary Band-Aids.

Now while the Republicans have been obstructionists in protecting and pushing their own agenda, the president is elected to lead. Leaving Congress to its own devices while admittedly being home nearly every night by 6:30 p.m. to eat with Michelle and their daughters is not leadership in the way of bipartisanship and compromise.

He has said repeatedly that he couldn’t work with Congress so he took his case directly to the American people. Sorry, Mr. President, but the job description includes working with Congress. Don’t blame Republicans for all the nation’s ills when you couldn’t even get all the Democrats to vote for your programs.

Reagan got people together. He knew if there was going to be a good morning in America, people needed to get along the night before.

Mr. Obama is right. This is probably the most important presidential election in a generation. But after watching both party conventions, one is left to wonder whether this is the best America has to offer.

— Young is a Register-Herald columnist. E-mail:

© 2012 by Nerissa Young