In the years since, I have campaigned, participated in innumerable fundraisers and spoken at countless rallies for the president. Between now and Election Day I plan to be on the campaign trail tirelessly.
I will do everything I can for the president to win on Nov 6. But at Tuesday’s debate I need him to do one thing: Come out with the eye of the tiger.
Of course I know he has to be extra careful not to appear as the “Angry Black Man.” But he can’t be the Defeated, Emotionless, Frustrated, Passionless Black Man we saw in the first debate. It won’t do anyone any good for him to be nonthreatening and passive and lose the election.
I want him to listen to a mix tape with Ice Cube, Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy and Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite For Destruction.” He should throw in some DMX for good measure because I need him to come out with fire.
I’m not saying I want the president to be over-aggressive. But he must, point by point, at every turn, with passion and zeal, call Mitt Romney out if the Republican nominee again mischaracterizes the truth, as so many fact-checkers determined he did in the last debate in Denver.
The president has to treat the millions of viewers as if they know absolutely nothing about the issues. As we all know, there is a large portion of voters who will accept all of the falsehoods presented to them. Others are simply too busy and don’t have time to follow all of the particulars of this lengthy campaign process. Many everyday Americans — you know, the 47 percent — may simply not be able to follow everything, and this may be their first time tuning in and paying attention. Besides, many of them are working two jobs, caring for their families and don’t have the time to focus on all the issues.
So President Obama has to treat this as if this is the only debate they will see. He can’t wait for the fact-checkers. The people need to hear directly from his mouth.
Because, for some strange reason, Romney’s strategy of “spirited” interruptions — where he denied much of his campaign platform for the past six months — had an obvious effect on his poll numbers. That reality speaks to an American culture where not following the rules, interrupting and shading the truth will prove beneficial to you.
But more than anything, I want the president to passionately defend his record. I want to remember why I’ve supported him for ten years: because he had the passionate courage of his convictions. We want to see the fire Joe Biden had on Thursday during the VP debate in our president.
Why? Because his record speaks for itself. He approved the mission that led to Osama bin Laden’s death. Because of his health-care bill, no American can be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
He’s created more than 4.5 million new jobs. I don’t want to hear any apologies for him being the only candidate who is keeping it real with the American people.
I want him to remind the American people that he rescued the auto industry. That American manufacturing is growing for the first time since the 1990s and the Student Aid and Financial Responsibility act made repaying student loans a little easier to manage. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act protects against pay discrimination. And when he says these things I want him to say them in a way that will make me remember his words, like he did back in 2002 at that Chicago antiwar rally.
We need the president to remind the American people Tuesday night what really is at stake on Nov. 6. It’s not an election that should be taken lightly. As the president has said time and time again, Romney wants to take us back to the failed policies of the previous Republican administration — the policies that got us into this fiscal mess in the first place.
More than anything, President Obama needs to repeat what he said in his 2008 acceptance speech, with the same conviction that sent chills down the spines of millions: “The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there”
Mr. President, it’s time to take the gloves off. Please, no more holding back.
Etan Thomas is an 11-year NBA veteran and author, along with Nick Chiles, of “Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge,” “More Than an Athlete,” and the soon-to-be-released “Voices of the Future.” He is also a member of President Obama’s Fatherhood Initiative. To read more, visit EtanThomas.com or follow him on twitter @etanthomas36.
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