New Obama Slogan: From One, Many
President Obama is my president. He's not illegitimate. He's not a usurper. He was duly elected by my fellow citizens — and as much as I think he's a horrible commander-in-chief with anti-American ideals, that's the choice Americans made in 2008.
But by the same token, President Obama isn't my president. He isn't doing anything for me, the typical, faceless American citizen. I'm not a member of a minority group — at least a minority group that counts (being Jewish obviously doesn't count when it comes to Obama's giveaway grab bag). I'm not a welfare case, and I'm employed. I'm not a member of a public sector union.
And so I don't count when it comes to President Obama.
President Obama's entire re-election campaign — and, thus far, his entire presidency — has been predicated on appealing to various splinter groups within the American population. He isn't interested in presenting broad policy initiatives that appeal to the vast swath of Americans; in fact, his one major policy initiative, Obamacare, bombed with the American public so badly that the Democrats were unceremoniously thrown from Congress in 2010.
That's why Obama finds himself on the defensive with regard to his polarizing campaign tactics. In an interview with Black Enterprise magazine, Obama said, "I want all Americans to have opportunity. I'm not the president of black America. I'm the president of the United States of America." But that's not what he says on his campaign website, where he breaks down Americans by color, including a subgroup of African-Americans for Obama, where he pushes posters urging blacks to "get his back" — just $35 to show your support!
Obama's website also offers groups for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Jewish Americans (well, liberal Jewish Americans), Latinos, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgenders, people with disabilities, small business owners (all two of them who support Obama), seniors, women, and young Americans, among others.
Obama sees America as a country of differences papered over with the flag; Americans, by contrast, have historically seen America as a country of different folks united by dreams, goals and principles. To Obama, unity is aesthetic, an idea to be photoshopped to the front of a campaign brochure. To Americans, unity is engraved on our coinage.
But that fundamental difference in perspective has yet to manifest itself in this campaign. Americans seem to want to take Obama at his word. They don't understand that his campaign philosophy of 2008 is worlds apart from his campaign philosophy of 2012. He has failed as a universal president — a president whose rising tide has lifted all boats. His only success must spring from his particularism. He must deconstruct his "all things to all people" persona in order to appeal to any one particular group.
But Obama's enigmatic persona means that there's no 'there' there. He hasn't offered enough to any one group to qualify as a representative member. His answer to Black Enterprise came in response to a question about whether he's done enough for the black community. And he hasn't. But he can only campaign as a black candidate or a gay candidate or a Latino candidate or a whatever-he-is-this-week candidate.
And that just won't fly. Because, to paraphrase a famously unifying politician of the recent past, we're not black states and white states, gay states and straight states — we're the United States. Even if our president seems to like us better scattered and disunited.