Convince us that Obama is different from Romney

Convince us that Obama is different from Romney
• Sun, May 27, 2012

By Dawud Walid

President Barack Obama is on tenuous ground with many activists within the social justice realm, which may cost him politically in this year’s election.

Many have stated the alternative to Obama, Mitt Romney, is basically the “greater of two evils;” thus, we should all rally behind the president. 

My response to them is, please articulate three substantial policies Obama has executed — not simply rhetoric — that clearly distinguish him from Romney. My reservations stem from the following policies, among others. 

Obama, who chides Wall Street banks, recently praised JPMorgan as “one of the best-managed banks there is” on the very same day a Department of Justice (DOJ) employee leaked that the bank was under criminal investigation for losing some $3 billion. 

Moreover, Obama had at least 19 meetings with the CEO of JPMorgan, including a private dinner with him in the Oval Office. So, even though he chided Wall Street after he stated the bank bailout program “was necessary,” Obama continues to flirt with the same institutions that are involved in our homeforeclosure crisis, which the Occupy Movement and local clergy, including myself, have protested against. 

Based upon his relationship with Wall Street bankers, I am not sure how he can, in good conscience, say anything about Romney and Bain Capital.

Secondly, when it comes to militarism, Obama is not much different from Romney. Even though the Pentagon was forced to cut its military budget back some in comparison to military spending increases since 9/11, both Obama and Romney are for the projection of American power for the purposes of supporting military strategic assets as well as corporate interests. Furthermore, both support the usage of military and CIA assassination drones that have killed countless civilians in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. In fact, Obama is the first president in American history to kill American citizens through a drone attack per executive order without those citizens being indicted of a single crime much less asked to turn themselves in. And I can write an entire piece simply on the scheduled “troop withdrawal” in Afghanistan.

Even on the gay marriage issue, in which Obama appears to be different in substance from Romney, he is not in favor of making “marriage equality” a federal issue. Obama parrots the conservative talking point of states’ rights when he says gay marriage should be left up to each state even though the DOJ is currently challenging South Carolina and Texas’ voter ID laws, laws that Romney supports under the same states’ rights argument. 

There are other issues from supporting charter schools, which drain resources from our public schools to unconditional support of Israel, which illegally occupies Palestinian and Syrian land, which I see no substantive difference between Obama and Romney. There are many people like me out here, who feel the same. If anyone can articulate major substantive differences, perhaps our minds can be changed. As of now though, I don’t see much difference between Obama and Bush, or Romney.

Dawud Walid is a Muslim preacher and prayer leader in Metro Detroit and board member of the Metropolitan Detroit Interfaith Workers Rights Committee.

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