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My Vote

My first exposure to politics was my liberal mother espousing the glories of JFK and LBJ to my father, who had been, among other things, a confidant and speechwriter for a variety of conservative Tennessee politicians from the 1920s through the mid-1950s.
The first campaign I ever worked in was Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 presidential run – licking envelopes in a storefront headquarters. When Bobby was taken, I worked for Gene McCarthy. Then after the macabre circus that was the Chicago Democratic Convention, I moved to the Nixon camp and really believed he had a double secret plan to get us out of the fetid quagmire that was Vietnam. Like many, I was fooled by “Tricky Dick,” but hopefully I can be forgiven as I was only 11.

Never since then have I been so torn over which presidential candidate to support or undecided so late in the race. Why?
The answer is simple: Even though I am a lifelong Republican, I LIKE Barack Obama.
In 2008, I voted for him and do not regret it. Despite deficiencies that have become evident, I believe Obama was a much better choice than John McCain; and I am happy to have helped elect our first African-American president. I believe he is a good and decent American, a prayerful Christian and, from all reports, an excellent husband and father. He and Michelle are the epitome of the American dream — rising from modest beginnings to the White House; and I am proud to see them stepping off Air Force One representing the United States of America.
For those reasons, I wanted to give President Obama every opportunity to convince me that he has a real plan for getting this country out of the economic mess it is in. Give me a reason to say, “Even though Obama’s first term has been mediocre at best, he has really learned and grown in the office and he clearly has a plan for the future that makes sense (or at least more sense than Mitt Romney’s).”
So, I committed to waiting until after the third and final debate. Now I must report that Obama has failed to convince me.
The centerpiece of Obama’s “plan” seems to be a tax increase on millionaires, which at best would raise about $80 to $100 billion annually. At a time when we are running trillion dollar deficits and the nation is some $16 trillion in debt, that is not a plan, it’s a joke.
President Obama talks about hiring more teachers, fixing the infrastructure, investing in research and green technology — and all those are fine things — but with what does he plan to pay for such initiatives? More borrowing? More debt? And Obama won’t even discuss reforming Social Security, which everyone knows must be tackled at some point very soon.
On top of that, Obama has failed to embrace an aggressive energy policy that would take full advantage of America’s vast natural resources, put blue-collar people back to work and put us on the short road to energy independence. His blocking of the Keystone Pipeline is a prime example of half-hearted energy and economic policies that focus too much on a green future and too little on pain-at-pump now.
And I won’t even go into foreign policy other than to say it, too, is muddle of mixed signals and half-hearted, unfocused efforts.
In the final analysis, Obama misspent the good will and political capital he acquired in a landslide victory. He had his chance during his first two years in office with a Democrat House and Senate to install any grand design he pleased to fix the economy. Instead, he simply recycled George Bush’s policies — TARP and a bailout for the automakers — and took his eye completely off the economic ball to pass Obamacare. While I hope that someday we will have universal health care in this country without wrecking the private insurance industry, the smoldering aftermath of the worst economy collapse since 1929 was not the time to jam it down the throats of American business.
Granted, I have qualms about Romney in terms of women’s rights, gay rights and immigration; about his grasp of foreign policy; and about the sort of “shape-shifting” he seems to have done over the years and even the last few weeks. Who is Mitt Romney, really?
Despite the excess of red meat Romney has tossed to the far right during this campaign, he has no history of thinking or governing that way. In fact, his entire history is that of the same sort of Rockefeller Republican I consider myself to be: liberal on social issues, business-minded and right of center on most fiscal issues (while supporting the need for a social safety net), and a strong backer of the police, the military and public schools.
Based on that history, I trust Romney will govern the U.S. with that same moderate philosophy.
I do not believe Barack Obama is a Muslim, a socialist, a communist, a Marxist or in any way un-American. I am disgusted with the deep and ugly seam of racism that Obama’s presidency has laid bare. Naively, I had believed that such widespread and visceral racism was all but gone from this country and that Obama’s victory was the final evidence of such. It is disappointing and disheartening to see that such is not the case. There are few things I would enjoy more than seeing Obama reelected just to kick those people in the teeth. Unfortunately, the issues are too large for that sort of self-indulgence. The perils to America’s fiscal future are too great.
I LIKE Barack Obama. In 2008, he was the right man at the right moment in history. He brought hope when hope was needed. But today America needs a businessman and former governor who knows how to balance a budget and work with contentious legislators of both parties. I believe Mitt Romney is that man, and 2012 is his moment.

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