I can give you a one-word answer to that one...fear.
Fear is the mother's milk of the Republican Party and has been for decades. This time around we were served up huge doses of that suggesting that our current president is somehow "foreign" and doesn't share our values. And then it was on to instill fear about what they say he's doing to the economy and the American way of life. Along the way, we were fed diets of fear about the welfare state (read: black people) and immigrants.
But that wasn't working for them. And then along came these protests and the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi. And you wonder why the Romney campaign pounced on that? Some have suggested that it fit the narrative of their "apology tour" lie. There's probably some truth in that. But deep down it provided them a vehicle to once again reach in to grab our fears and try to exploit them.
Given that the GOP is a dying beast and has nothing left to offer the American public but greed and some crazy idea about world domination, it should come as no surprise that they would jump on their old tried and true message of fear.
President Obama is offering something else. Yes, for too many the idea of hope was a heady thing in 2008. The question is whether we've matured a bit since then. Because he's still talking about hope - the kind that isn't so starry-eyed. The kind that we find when we look inside ourselves and decide to stick with the struggle over the long haul.
Now, the first time I addressed this convention, in 2004, I was a younger man — a Senate candidate from Illinois who spoke about hope, not blind optimism, not wishful thinking but hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, that dogged faith in the future which has pushed this nation forward even when the odds are great, even when the road is long.
Eight years later that hope has been tested by the cost of war, by one of the worst economic crises in history and by political gridlock that's left us wondering whether it's still even possible to tackle the challenges of our time...
...while I'm proud of what we've achieved together — I'm far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, "I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go."
But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America. Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I'm naive about the magnitude of our challenges.
I'm hopeful because of you.
- President Barack Obama, 2012 Democratic Convention