This election has the potential to fundamentally change the landscape of what built, bolstered, sustained, and characterized America since its founding. There is a Republican ticket that is keen to completely erode the social contract that has made America great. No prior presidential candidate was quite as eager to defund, destroy and decimate federal support for all things public - from public infrastructure (our roads, buildings, and sewers), to public transportation, public policing, public education, public health, public parks, public regulation of commerce, a public energy grid, public access to water, and adequate food supply.
I could not speak in more categorical terms. Make no mistake about the stark choice facing America. The Romney-Ryan ticket wants to put these public assets and investments into private, corporate hands. The last time the majority of the American public was at the whim of unregulated private industry - whether it was the housing market, the financial market, or the campaign finance market (e.g. Citizens United) - the American public got the short end of the stick.
We must not allow the unraveling of everything we have built in the last 300 years, nor can we allow Republicans to put all that is public in the hands of a private few. That is not democratic, nor is it a decision characterized by an ounce of discretion and discernment. Remember what James Madison said in the Federal Papers in 1788 regarding the aim of every political constitution and its rulers; that they pursue the "common good of the society" and to "hold their public trust". In Romney's vision of a privatized and unregulated world, unless you're one of a few shareholders, this is neither practicable nor feasible.
In Romney's world, the American citizenry would be forced to negotiate everything - all alone, mind you, and every individual for themselves - from healthcare claims to insurance disputes to excess fees to school access. You would be on your own, alone. No consumer protection for you. America's already high rates of poverty and income inequality - numbers which have been exacerbated by tax, trade and labor policies benefiting the few at the expense of the majority - would worsen substantially, something that'd be just fine with the Republicans.
Forget, for a moment, the completely unsound economics of this and how it undermines America's economic and educational competitiveness worldwide. No great president, nor any of our founding fathers, articulated such a comprehensive platform of privatization and the destruction of the public. Yet, this is exactly what Romney-Ryan wants to do with our public health trusts in Medicare and Medicaid, our public schools, public lands, public roads and bridges, and the list goes on. While business is a critical component in our Democratic fabric, it is only one part of the public-private puzzle. For Romney-Ryan to suggest that big business is the answer to every ill is fundamentally fallacious.
What is most frightening in this election, however, is the utter dismissal by the Republican Party of any public asset or public investment that embodies and encourages empathy and cooperation. Remember, Darwin argued that empathy is crucial to species survival. It is Darwin and the Democrats in one corner and the "wild west" with-the-best-and-fastest-gun in the other. It is becoming crystal clear that we have a majority in one corner that believes in the social contract and the public good, and, in the other corner, a 1 percent market that wants to control it, profit from it, and sell it off the highest bidder.
Democrats, in stark contrast, believe in the democratization of energy, water, healthcare, education, food, and natural resources. These are basic human rights, they are in the public domain, and they are resources built by Americans that should benefit public, not private, shareholders. Democrats believe in equality, sustainability and renewability, we believe in women's rights, and we believe that black or white, young or old, disabled or abled, gay or straight, rich or poor, that you have a place in America.
This is a fight for the heart and soul of America. Romney wants to unthread the fabric that has held the American family together. To the majority of America who does not want to turn back the tide on all that centuries of American blood, sweat and tears have built for the benefit of the public good, turn out the Democratic vote on Election Day. This is a country where we care for our fellow Americans, not discard or self-deport them. Vote for that vision of America. It is Barack Obama's vision and it is my vision.
Honda is vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee.