What is missing at the DNC?
Democrats seem to have more fun than Republicans at their convention. Certainly they are a more diverse bunch by observation of the cameras spanning the convention floor. But beyond that they seem more willing to shout, stand, scream, and clap at the slightest provocation.
And they have been blessed with several barn-burning speeches, the greatest of which, through Wednesday night, was President Bill Clinton’s.
This president has no make his case to the American people, and this convention is designed to both engage his supporters and convince Independents that Obama is worth their vote for four more years.
While Clinton provided a believable explanation that the damage to the economy that Obama inherited was far too great for any president, past or present, to resolve in four years, President Obama has to make the case in person why he is the right man to lead for the next four years.
And in that regard, as I am writing this prior to his speech, Obama must explain how he intends to reduce and control the deficit and debt while investing in a sustainable economy that allows the middle class to prosper from recovery.
We know from the president that he intends to protect education, research, infrastructure, Social Security and Medicare, but we do not have from him enough specifics on how his second administration would attack the expanding deficit.
We do know, from his attempted Grand Compromise with Speaker Boehner in 2011, that he was close to cutting $4 trillion from the deficit over the next decade. That would have been accomplished buy spending cuts and tax increases, with more spending cuts by a ratio of two and a half to one.
Frankly, that solution would have been close to the Independent Commission suggestions both in the rate of reduction and in the mix of spending cuts to revenue increases.
Obama can convince Americans to allow him to continue to lead the nation through the remaining days of recovery if Americans believe he has a plan that makes sense and avoids the kind of austerity that has resulted in several European nations falling back into recession.
And Obama can correctly make the case that the American economic recovery, slow that it has been, has been second only to Canada for its success.
But in this regard the president has a greater obligation than Governor Romney to explain the details of his position.
For Romney can, as he has, offer himself as “anyone but” the current president and that may win him enough votes to win the presidency. Romney has offered few budget details, and what he has offered so far does not strike experts as possible.
If Romney cuts taxes on the rich, maintains or increases the military budget, currently 20 percent of the federal budget excluding its discretionary budget spending, and reduces the deficit, almost all of the discretionary budget categories would be unfunded.
Additionally, Social Security and Medicare would be required to make large scale changes.
Probably voters will not ask Romney for the details, though they should.
On the other hand, voters will and should ask the president for an easy to understand road map to economic vibrancy, one that all Americans can support and help realize.
Presidents do not have the power to create economic growth, but they can encourage consumer confidence, stimulate the economy in meaningful ways, and offer the nation a vision of a better future.
President Obama’s vision is bigger than that of the Republicans, who advance a smaller, meaner America. But the president must convince Americans that the vision can be accomplished.
That is his role in this convention.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.