2012 Presidential Election: Political Analyst Perspective



Though clearly a supporter of President Obama, award winning political journalist Jonathan Alter provided objective insight on the positions of this year’s Presidential candidates. Sunday, November 4 marked the 48 hour countdown to the 2012 elections, and Alter appeared at Temple Emanuel in Great Neck, NY to educate citizens on the high stakes of Tuesday’s political activity.

The speech he gave, entitled “Between the Lines: Politics, Media, and Society” aroused the undecided voters of the community and by the end of the night it was clear the audience had made a decision to vote for a particular candidate.

During the lecture itself, Alter began by emphasizing one point. “I don’t know how the election will turn out,” he responded when asked about polls and predictions. “I think this race is just too close to call—there are too many uncertain variables to say that Obama will be re-elected.”

After simplifying matters with claims President Obama will have a good chance of winning if he could secure Ohio, but will have a tough time otherwise, the discussion became heated when delving into other issues.

Alter’s explanation for Governor Romney’s lack of campaigning in Pennsylvania because of the “unlikelihood” of his winning over the 2/3 population he needs to have a hold on the state led to other critiques of the Romney-Ryan platform. “The stakes in the election are very big. I believe the American Social Contract is on the line this election,” Alter claimed. “Paul Ryan’s plan strips away he contract upon which America is now built. If Romney is elected, Supreme court cases such as Roe v. Wade will be repealed.”

This was met with response from audience member Ellen Lightfort. “I disagree with everything you just said,” she said in her response to Alter. “Issues such as abortion are not such big things right now. America is on the edge; Obama has not done anything to support international problems. What are we going to do without Israel?”

Alter continued to state his support of the president is with the understanding that his positions are far from perfect, but they are “mixed reviews.” Expectations for the election became a pressing topic of discussion—Linda Drum questioned Romney’s stance with the Republican Party.

The consensus was that should he win, “Romney will live looking over his shoulder because he knows he will be a man without a party should he deviate from any pre-imposed policies.” Alter tied this in with the importance of voting.

Before a poll was taken, Professor Michael D’innocenzo of Hofstra University raised a question. “Regarding voting, the three groups that made a difference for Obama are African-Americans, Hispanics, and younger citizens. What do they mean for Obama in this election?”

The overall view Alter presented was that the turnout of the Latino population were not as high as the black population, even though 70 percent of Latinos are in favor of President Obama. Additionally, the youth voter turnout leaves something to be desired as well. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who you vote for as long as you take advantage of the rights you have to vote for someone who favors your interests.”

Q and A:

JMR: Hi Mr. Alter. It is a pleasure to meet you and I want to thank you for taking time before giving your speech to meet with me. Could you explain what your goals are in addressing the audience and what you plan to accomplish through your speech tonight?

JA: I want to do both a short-term and long-term presentation that addresses the impact the next 48 hours will have on America. Involved in that is a sense of the state-of-play the election holds and the way it stacks up in terms of the array of force in battleground states.

JMR: And how would you like to inform the audience of undecided registered voters?

JA: Well, I would like to put it in perspective by analyzing what is at stake in this particular election, and possibly give the listeners a bit of what to expect after the election if either candidate were to win.

JMR: Thank you very much! I understand that you are preparing to deliver that speech as we speak, so I won’t detain you for much longer. But I think people would be interested in your start in this field.  On a more general scale, what had you hoped to accomplish in the field of journalism when you first began? What were your plans?

JA: Wow. That is a deep question. I believe in a mixture of idealism and skepticism and I wanted to use it to nudge the world. I knew journalism couldn’t change the world, but I wanted to nudge it and express myself. Also, it was less boring than other occupations [laughs] and I wasn’t qualified for anything else.

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