By Pamela Gentry, Senior Poltical Analyst
March 9, 2010 – President Barack Obama brought back his winning style and formula from the campaign; he delivered the same reasons to reform health care but with a level of intensity he hasn’t demonstrated since the 2008 campaign.
The banter with the audience at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania sounded more like a pep rally than a policy speech. “How many people would like a proposal that holds insurance companies more accountable? How many people would like to give Americans the same insurance choices that members of Congress get? And how many would like a proposal that brings down costs for everyone? That’s our proposal. And it is paid for, and it’s a proposal whose time has come,” the president said.
He took shots at the insurance companies, his Republican critics and the Washington political climate charging every decision being hampered by the priority of folks to be re-elected. Admitting health reform won’t be easy; the president said that can’t be a deterrent. “It is hard. That’s because health care is complicated. Health care is a hard issue. It’s easily misrepresented. It’s easily misunderstood,” he insisted.
Another effective tool the president used during his campaign was mobilizing the youth, Black voters and women. He called on those wanting to see change to join in and help spread the word. “It’s time to make a decision. The time for talk is over. We need to see where people stand. And we need all of you to help us win that vote. So I need you to knock on doors. Talk to your neighbors. Pick up the phone. When you hear an argument by the water cooler and somebody is saying this or that about it, say, no, no, no, no, hold on a second. And we need you to make your voices heard all the way in Washington, D.C.”
This could be the rally cry the president needed but hadn’t exercised. It also could be the first indication the he’s ready to take on the 2010 midterm election skeptic who fear health care reform could torpedo their chance for re-election.
But if re-election is a concern, it looks like Black vote will be showing up at the polls in November. A recent poll by the nonpartisan Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found Black voters were watching midterm elections closely and 74 – 80 percent surveyed said they were “very likely to vote” in the upcoming elections.
The poll sampled 500 Blacks in Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas and South Carolina, states which have Senates races in the fall. David Bositis, a expert on Black voter turnout and researcher at the Joint Center said there is still a great deal of enthusiasm surrounding Obama’s presidency. “I think the Obama election and the fact that there is an African-American president is something of a game-changer,” he said.
Bositis is right, Black voters have invested in Obama’s success and if they are called to action, they will respond. The president’s speech Monday could bring the folks at the grass roots level to the forefront of this policy issue that has suffered several stops-and-starts in recent months.
Obama warned his detractors. “So let me remind everybody: Those of us in public office were not sent to Washington to do what’s easy. We weren’t sent there because of the big fancy title.” Adding, “We weren’t sent there just so everybody can say how wonderful we are. We were sent there to do what was hard. We were sent there to take on the tough issues. We were sent there to solve the big challenges. And that’s why we’re there.”
Sounds like he’s fired up and ready to go!