With the presidential election just a few days away, I think it’s safe to say that the overwhelming majority of voters are firm in who they intend to vote for. We’ve watched both candidates present their cases for why they deserve to be in the White House for the next few years. We’ve been assailed with a seemingly endless barrage of campaign commercials, phone calls, and mailings. We’ve discussed the election for months among friends and family, and probably got into a few arguments in the process. Most of us are probably just ready for this election to be over.
I’ve been writing columns for this website for over a year now. When I haven’t been taking the media to task for their biases and negligence, or offering commentary on cultural clashes, I’ve been laying out my reasoning for why this country needs a drastic change in course. I’ve been describing why I believe many of the decisions President Obama has made during his first term in office have put America on a road to ruin.
I could use this column (my last one before the presidential election) to once again rattle off the horrendous economic numbers our president has presided over, and point out that there are practically no economic indicators (including Friday’s announcement of a 7.9% unemployment rate) that are better than when the president took office four years ago. I could use this column to detail our country’s diminishing influence on the world platform. I could use it to preach the dangers of a society far too dependent on government, at the expense of our children and grandchildren who will bear the price of our selfishness.
Instead, I want to use this column to appeal to the few among us who are still teetering on the fence when it comes to who they plan on casting their vote for on Tuesday. Though I used the word “few”, I think there are probably more of these people out there than we realize. In fact, I heard from someone close to me yesterday who hadn’t yet made up their mind. We’re talking about those among us who aren’t inherently political people, and they’ve heard so many conflicting stories and viewpoints throughout the campaign that they probably aren’t sure what or who to believe. In some cases, they probably haven’t been as adversely effected by the economic downturn as others have, so the case for change may not be as clear-cut to them. They’ve had a lot of numbers thrown at them (by the media and both campaigns) that are understandably hard to wrap their heads around. They’ve heard many sharp accusations tossed back and forth between the candidates, and a lot of alarm-sounding over things that sometimes don’t quite make sense.
To these people, the state of the country might not be as appalling as the state of our political discourse. They regularly see anger and hatred on television and they’ve probably even seen a new, unattractive side to some of their friends when the topic of politics comes up. They’re probably wondering, more than anything, how our politics became so nasty.
The answer to that question is simple. American politics are as abrasive and hostile as they are right now, because they’ve been engineered to be exactly that. What we’ve seen in recent years is a deep, disturbing divide in our country because Americans have been pitted against each other. We’ve been persuaded to resent each other, whether it be through envy of the success of others, reckless claims of racial and gender discrimination, or the attributing of evil, ugly motivations to people who simply hold a different opinion.
Things didn’t get this way by accident.
President Obama made a lot of promises when he ran for the presidency in 2008. He spoke often about uniting the country and finding common ground. He spoke about changing the tone of our political discourse. They were powerful messages that struck a chord with the electorate, and they were, in part, what got him elected.
But when you peel away all of the policy differences, political spin, and dueling rhetoric over the past four years, we’re left with one undeniable truth when it comes to President Obama: He’s not uniter. He’s a divider.
Regardless of how you feel about our president, the reality is that he has never made any serious attempt to reach across the aisle to find common ground with people whose vision of America is different than his. He’s never made any serious attempt to listen to alternate views, consider them, and engage in an honest debate with people whose ideas oppose his. He’s never shown an interest in understanding the electorate. He’s never worked to achieve a consensus, or built relationships with people who disagree with him.
This has been a completely self-centered presidency, and there hasn’t been a shred of evidence to suggest that things will change with a second Obama term.
The president has failed to put this country on a path to recovery, and instead of making changes to address those failures, he has chosen to create scapegoats and villains to deflect the blame for those failures onto. The result has been a broken American spirit. The result has been a tired, bitter country.
Things don’t have to be this way. Our politics don’t have to be reduced to name-calling, fear-mongering, and demagoguery. We have serious, legitimate problems in this country that need to be dealt with honestly, maturely, and effectively. Sadly, that is not our future with four more years of President Obama.
Whether or not you admire Mitt Romney and his accomplishments, or agree with him on every position, a few things should be apparent by now: He has no interest in creating villains. He has no interest in stoking envy, building resentment, and defining Americans by their differences.
Whether or not you identify with him ideologically, Mitt Romney is a problem solver. He’s had a long history of taking bad situations, turning them around, and achieving success. He has a governing history of working with people who disagree with him to build trust, build relationships, and accomplish good things for the people who put him in office.
Mitt Romney is not a divider.
When this election is over, and it’s time to mend fences with the half of the country whose candidate lost, we’re going to need someone in office who can bring us together and move forward. After watching President Obama in action for the last few years, does anyone honestly feel that he’s even capable of a such a thing? After all, this is someone who told supporters at a campaign rally on Friday that “voting is the best revenge”, against Mitt Romney. Revenge? Why do voters need to seek revenge against Romney? Because he had the gall to run against President Obama? What kind of leader talks like that?
This country desperately needs a style of leadership that doesn’t constantly require excuses and scapegoats to explain its failures. We need a style of leadership that is driven by goals of success and prosperity that don’t discriminate between people based on their race, gender, or income.
Undecided voters have a chance on Tuesday to unite this country by recognizing and supporting the need for a new direction. It’s time to end this long, demoralizing chapter of division and frustration.
I implore you to join with me by casting your vote for Mitt Romney, because America desperately needs a better path forward.