Getting to Know You: Premier Dr. Ewart Brown with Senator Barack Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference in the fall of 2007 in Washington, D.C.
Getting to Know You: Premier Dr. Ewart Brown with Senator Barack Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference in the fall of 2007 in Washington, D.C.
Barack Obama's campaign people think they've got this thing in the bag. They're hoping that a simple message of change combined with America's anger with the current Republican administration will sweep them into power.

They're naïve.

John McCain isn't taking anything for granted. He's on the offensive. Since the stunning announcement that an unknown, hard right-wing Alaska governor would be his running mate, John McCain has been on a roll. He's reinforced his so-called "maverick reformer" credentials and he's hit Obama hard on everything from sexism to his celebrity status to his supposed support for sex education for kindergartners. McCain's efforts are paying off. Polls that all summer showed a slim but steady Obama lead are now showing a dead heat.

In politics, you're either defining your opponent or you're being defined by your opponent. In the U.S. race, while the underlying political environment strongly favours Obama, he's resting on his laurels. Obama needs to get back on the offensive and attack the very core of John McCain's argument.

The troubled economy is a central issue in the American campaign - and it's an issue that favours Obama. Obama needs to own this issue by both feeling the pain of America's working families and by using the economy to define John McCain as a tired, old school Washington politician who is out-of-touch with regular people. That very caricature allowed Bill Clinton to handily defeat another Republican war hero turned Senate lifer, Bob Dole, in 1996.

In August, the Obama campaign scored political points when McCain forgot that he owns eight houses. Did you know that combined, McCain and his VP nominee Sarah Palin own 11 houses? Now would be a good time to creatively remind that fact to the American people. A blunt and relentless focus on McCain and Palin's opulent lifestyles combined with their admitted ignorance on economic issues will put Obama back on the offensive.

Over the next few weeks, thanks to our American television feeds, we in Bermuda will watch the drama unfold with interest, passion and perhaps even some amusement. We'll watch two candidates embrace the mantles of "change" and "reform" because a strong majority of Americans have lost faith in President Bush's leadership.

Here in Bermuda, as the American election comes to a climactic conclusion, we will reflect on the ten year anniversary of the PLP's historic 1998 victory. Set to the backdrop of the U.S. presidential election, we'll all be reminded how important it is to continue reforming government and delivering for the people of Bermuda.

Change is only a powerful force when a government is failing its core commitments to its people. During the December election, the UBP callously tried to claim the mantle of change for political gain. It didn't work. It didn't work because change is a hollow slogan when you're running against a government that has both demonstrated a commitment to reform and produced results.

As was affirmed in the December election, the PLP government is pursuing an agenda of reform and getting the job done. Since the election, we've stepped up our efforts. From a comprehensive crime policy to free day care to expanded HIP benefits to revitalization of our tourism product to steady guidance of our economy through troubled waters, the PLP continues to enact real reform that helps people.

But, we're not done reforming. Not by a long shot. Our next major challenge is to provide high quality health care to our seniors in the form of FutureCare. After a lifetime of hard work, Bermudians will be assured that they'll receive the highest quality medical care without having to worry about the obscene costs.

That's the kind of change all of Bermuda can believe in.