Tonight we had friends over, and when the subject turned to the upcoming election one of them trotted out the tired and most damaging of memes: the only choice at the polls is whether to vote for the jerk or the fool.
I was quick to disagree. In my opinion only a fool or a jerk would believe such a thing. It’s cynical, intellectually lazy, and at its heart it undermines the validity of the democratic process. It’s also categorically untrue.
I’m a partisan voter; in the six Presidential elections in which I’ve taken part (including Tuesday’s) I’ve never once crossed the aisle. Yet you won’t catch me saying that any of the six Democrats I’ve voted against were evil, stupid, unpatriotic, or any of the other vapid insults we’re so quick to throw at politicians; ditto of course for the folks I’ve voted ‘for’. Heck, going back my entire lifetime I’d say that the only truly questionable character on a Presidential ticket would be John Edwards, and even then the worst of his sins seem confined to abhorrent choices in his personal life.
They disagree with me, I disagree with them, and sure, I believe this country would be better off if Obama and Carter had never got their hands on the Oval Office; much better in fact. So what? It’s possible to disagree with another human being without adopting the idiotic notion that they therefore they must be in cahoots with the devil.
[While I’m on the subject, I wish people would stop complaining about political ads and the ‘wasteful’ expense of campaigning. Americans spend more money on Halloween candy and costumes each year than our country does on elections. Keep things in perspective and say “thank you” for living in a country where your opinion is courted and valued by those in power]
Anyhow . . .
This site began in November of 2004 as a political blog, a place for me to espouse the strong political opinions I had at the time. I still have my opinions of course, tempered perhaps by time and maturity, but I rarely express them here. I’m more comfortable with this blog in its current incarnation as a more casual, family friendly destination.
But given the importance of tomorrow’s election, I’m going to step out of the shadows and give you my two cents.
You heard me say that I’m a partisan voter (nationally at least) so it’s no surprise then that I’m voting for Mitt Romney. Now, I don’t always vote with enthusiasm (I thought Dole was the wrong candidate in ’96, and McCain seemed like a default choice in ’08, nothing more), but in this case, I’m 100% in Mitt’s corner, and it ISN’T because of the ‘R’ next to his name. Heck, some of it isn’t about Romney at all, but rather the need to objectively evaluate the current President and act accordingly.
So that’s the route I’m going to take here; I won’t waste my breath promoting Romney (although I’m keen to do so), because you’ll just chalk it up to partisan banter. Assuming you are still on the fence, what’s really going to change your mind? Party propaganda from either side, or a blunt evaluation of the situation this country is facing and what the guy in charge has - or hasn’t - done? Exactly. So here goes.
Different times call for different Presidential priorities. But given the clear and present situation that has existed from 2008 to the present, as well as Obama’s stated goals, I believe it would be foolish to judge his Presidency on anything more or less than two subjects: the health of the economy and the War on Terror.
The economy wallows in misery, with unemployment figures skewed by whole swatches of workers that have abandoned the search for a job or settled for wages far less than their prior salary. The scary part? Even with those American’s dropped from the official tally - and I was one of them, so they do exist, and in droves- the unemployment rate remains steady month after miserable month. A few months ago Politifact confirmed that we had, at that time, suffered 43 consecutive months of unemployment over 8%, the longest such streak since the Great Depression.
It gets worse. The debt Obama promised to halve has now grown to a record $16 trillion. Foreclosures abound, in such numbers that here in Milwaukee the police distributed flyers encouraging people to keep an eye on abandoned property. 47 million Americans – a record number – now depend on Food Stamps to survive.
By any stretch of accountability, Obama’s domestic policy has failed.
He promises, as he has before, that things will change. Invest in teachers, he says (‘invest’ being Obama-speak for ‘spend taxpayer money’) Hiring a kindergarten teacher may improve our economic strength in 2030, when her charges are in the workforce, but it does nothing to alleviate the pain of today. He has talked of making a Cabinet position for ‘Business’, a ludicrous notion that only reinforces the fact that for Obama capitalism is something best managed and controlled by bureaucracy.
Meanwhile, he attacks Mitt Romney for the mortal sin of being successful, more than happy, as always, to divide this nation into competing camps. Obama’s people have equated success with villainy, and fostered the bizarre notion that somehow only the mediocre should have claim to office. It has reared its head in the Wisconsin Senate race as well, where Tommy Thompson is castigated for the dastardly deed of making money in the private sector. It’s a notion that is both asinine and counter-productive. There’s a reason why, at this point, I should not be placed in a position of guiding a nations economy, that being I am no good at making money. Neither is Obama, a fact we’ve learned the hard way in the last four years.
On foreign policy Obama gets points for eliminating Osama Bin Laden, ‘tho I do believe any POTUS would have done the same. He has kept many Bush era policies in place, a huge plus in my book/a minus against him for liberals. He has often pursued the War on Terror, at least publicly, by resorting to drone warfare rather than boots on the ground, and while I disagree with this (collateral damage and a lack of accountability are my objections) it appears to have had no immediate backlash. On the other hand his casual acceptance of/absentee leadership during the Arab Spring showed, IMO, an alarming lack of common sense, allowing regimes potentially allied against the US to take power. He has time and again showed a willingness to bow (literally and figuratively) before Muslim interests, frequently sides against Israel, seems content to let Iran sit on the back burner unless pushed by the media, and has been content to let Syria bask in Civil War while inexplicably having chosen to interfere in Libya’s internal disputes. And how did that new Libyan regime work out? Oh, yes. Our Embassy was overrun and our Ambassador murdered.
He has not done as bad a job as I feared on foreign policy, largely because he has kept a number of key Bush policies or motions in play, and shown himself to be closer to the center on this than advertised in 2008. But ‘not awful’ is not the same as ‘adequate’ or ‘good’.
Once again, if you are undecided look around you. You see a country suffering economically and holding its own overseas, but with some disturbing trouble on the horizon. Looking back on the last four years, can you honestly say Obama lived up to his promises? That his leadership was optimal for this country? That he helped the economy or strengthened us overseas? Can you honestly say you are better off now than four years ago?
I know the answer to all of those questions: NO.
Obama had his chance. He failed, and it’s time for new leadership.
Join me in voting for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan tomorrow. You won’t be sorry.
So why Romney? Isn’t he the guy who said he didn’t care about 47% of the country? Isn’t he a rich guy who said college kids should borrow money from their [equally poor] parents? As someone who routinely sticks his foot in his mouth or finds the wrong word slipping out of my mouth, I refuse to judge someone on a fumbled soundbite What he was saying about the 47% was true – 47% of the country is on the hook to Obama and therefore, for the purpose of the campaign , not worth the effort of courting. [by the same token, I doubt Obama is seriously wooing evangelical Christian gun-owners] That doesn’t equate to “wants to be President for only the upper half”. As for the ‘borrow’ comment, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but note that if he did mean it as stated he was way out of touch, but was certainly educated after the media backlash.
BTW – I really was eager to promote Romney. I’ve read his book, and several of his position papers. While I didn’t agree with 100% of what he espoused I finished the reading with an appreciation for the vision and integrity of the man. More importantly, he has concrete ideas that are built on more than empty platitudes and chants of ‘hope/change’. If he is elected, I encourage you to read up on the man and his ideas. Even if you didn’t vote for him, I think you’ll walk away with a grudging respect and true hope for the future of America.
If you’re in Wisconsin, another choice should be clear: vote for Tommy Thompson for US Senate. Frankly, I find it disturbing that such a far Left candidate as Tammy Baldwin has gained this much traction against the clearly more qualified Thompson. Vote Tommy!