Almost all of my friends are Democrats; all of them voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Ask them these days, as I have, if they plan to vote for Obama this November, and they’ll give you an “Oh shucks” sad smile, look down, look back up with guilty eyes and say “I’m disappointed.”
Then they play the party line and say, “But Romney? But Ryan?”
I’m not talking about those African Americans, Latinos and lockstep Democrats who’ll blindly vote for Obama no matter how high unemployment may be or what shape this country may be in. I’m talking about a good number of intelligent, caring, middle-class Democrats who are a soft nudge away from casting their vote for Romney. All they need to know is they’re not alone.
Democrats were disappointed in 1980. They’d had, under President Jimmy Carter, four years of inflation, unemployment and gas rationing. Yet, when asked, they said, “But Reagan?”
At this point in 1980, Carter was nine points ahead of Ronald Reagan in the polls. Reagan had been slimed by the press and pro-Jimmy Carter forces as being dumb and bumbling. Sound familiar?
Carter treated Reagan as a ridiculous figure who, among other things, was ignorant of details of nuclear-weapons policy. Reagan promised economic growth and asked Democrats, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
In the end, Reagan proved that his brand of good-natured conservatism could win by a huge margin. But a lot of credit for the win must go to “Democrats for Reagan.”
Who were they? Well, Wikipedia says: “They were mostly white, socially conservative blue-collar workers, who lived in the Northeast, and were attracted to Reagan’s social conservatism.
“Stan Greenberg, a respected Democratic pollster, analyzed white, largely unionized auto workers in suburban Macomb County, Mich., just north of Detroit. The county voted 63 percent for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and 66 percent for Reagan in 1984. He concluded that Reagan Democrats no longer saw Democrats as champions of their middle-class aspirations, but instead saw the party as working primarily for the benefit of others, especially African Americans and the very poor.
“Democrat Bill Clinton targeted the Reagan Democrats with considerable success in 1992 and 1996.”
Here’s an example of a commercial that would win Democratic votes for Mitt Romney and maybe turn the election his way: It would use Democrats who’ve actually decided to vote for Romney. It would be word-for-word true, though soft in tone. It would come as a welcome relief for voters of both parties who’ve have had it up to here with negative false commercials. (The “Mitt Romney killed my cancer-stricken wife when he was at Bain Capital” is the best example.)
The commercial would open with a man, about 40, sitting in his living room with his wife and kids seated next to him. He looks into the camera and says:
“I’ve voted Democratic all my life. In 2008 I voted for Barack Obama. It was a vote I am proud of. I wanted to be part of the generation that voted a black man into the presidency of the United States. It was the right vote for the right reason. But, sadly, it was for the wrong man. I don’t think this country can survive four more years of Barack Obama as president. I know my family can’t. I lost my job two years ago, and I fear I’m going to lose my house. Mitt Romney has the business experience to bring back our economy fast. He has my vote.”
Other Democrats for Romney commercials would feature: A woman who wanted Hillary Clinton in 2008 but voted for Obama in the general election; a middle-class African-American owner of a declining small business; a student who enthusiastically cast his first vote in 2008 for Obama but hasn’t been able to find a job since then. Etc., etc., etc.
Again, these commercials wouldn’t slam you in the head but deliver a soft nudge to Democrats who, in their heart of hearts, must know that four more years of Barack Obama’s anti-business, share-the-wealth policies will cripple this great country we all love.
This article was first published in The New York Post on Aug. 17.