Young Voters Speak Out: Each day, RR.com will spotlight politically minded youth writers from throughout the U.S. speaking their minds on Election 2012. First-time voters, student journalists and new graduates will debate the Obama vs. Romney race to the White House. Young Democrats, Republicans and ‘Undecided’ Americans are eager to play politics and choose the next Commander & Chief.
Read Warren Bianchi's thoughts from a moderate perspective:
The days of Barack Obama's optimist zeal are over. His 2008 campaign depended on a potent brew of rhetorical positivity with slogans such as ''Yes we can or simply ''Hope.'' The result was a high on expectation that has left voters with an electoral hangover of epic proportions. Obama's strategy needs to change in order to secure another four years.
The American public, though, always susceptible to charisma yearns for concrete credentials and demonstrable aptitude.
The Obama administration seems to have caught wind of this, evident in its marked turn to slanderous ad campaigns that smack of mischief and malice. Although entertaining (and perhaps accurate), are these media low blows the right cure for an overdose of Obamamania?
One of Obama's latest ads features Mitt Romney poorly imitating a singer, mercilessly subjecting supporters to a cacophonous rendition of ''O Beautiful for Spacious Skies'' that only a true politician could muster. Meanwhile, a slew of shoddily verified bullet points regarding Romney's outsourcing of jobs to India or China and the existence of his Swiss bank accounts fade in and out, highlighting the paradoxical quality of his supposed patriotism.
It's true that these commercials reach people. But are they worth the nearly $100 million Obama has spent on them so far? It's easy enough to elicit contempt, but without charisma, Obama won't be winning hearts and minds. By overwhelming the opposition with negativity, Obama runs the risk of breeding ambivalence -- the paralyzing indifference that arises from having to choose the lesser of two evils.
And while we're having a chuckle at Romney's expense, he and his Super PAC are snickering at the obvious desperation. Like a true Republican, Romney knows he can wash the taste of disdain out of American's mouths by identifying its source and diluting it with money -- massive amounts of money. Any media blitz Obama can dish out, Romney can counter, and he has.
The danger in this duel of demonization is that obsessively undermining the competition leaves no room or resources for promoting oneself. The petty insults are not only base and ignoble, they alienate the core of the American voter -- namely, the forthright convictions that give weight to choices and the democratic process. The voters are placed into a corner forced to choose based on hatred over hope, animosity over esteem. If Obama expects to win this election, he'll have to prove himself worthy. And I think he is. But at the end of the day, the rewarding of merit will trump the pettiness of malice, and it's upon this instinct that a winning campaign ought to rely.