The New Yorker's must-read endorsement of President Obama contains a powerfully elegant universality--one that so many voters are confoundingly missing, and has others pulling their hair out in prodigious agreement:
A two-term Obama Administration will leave an enduringly positive imprint on political life. It will bolster the ideal of good governance and a social vision that tempers individualism with a concern for community.
That says it all. Many voters admit to a certain fuzziness in their understanding of specific issues but lay proud claim to comprehending the broader swaths of presidential character and competence and leadership. On all three counts, Obama is nearly off the charts; and yet, that marginal but critical mass of voters who weigh generalities but seldom particulars remain, by and large, mysteriously muddled (even after accounting for the "race" factor).
The last four years are what "good governance" looks like. While the best of governance can persist only as a utopian ideal, to reject rather than bolster the realistic ideal of the good is only to promote an enduringly negative imprint on political life.
And that imprint's name is Mitt Romney. Again, from the New Yorker:
[W]hat is most disquieting is Romney’s larger political vision. When he said that Obama "takes his political inspiration from Europe, and from the socialist democrats in Europe," he was not only signalling Obama’s "otherness" to one kind of conservative voter; he was suggesting that Obama’s liberalism is in conflict with a uniquely American strain of individualism.
In pursuit of swing voters, Romney and Ryan have sought to tamp down, and keep vague, the extremism of their economic and social commitments.
Demagoguery, rightest populism, "leftist" bugabooing, rabble-rousing, scapegoating, distorted history, a twisted nationalism and, just before the election, a devious moderation designed to mask primal extremism ...
... I'll let you make the easily makeable historical connnections.