Last week, President Obama told his supporters “voting is the best revenge!” It was an appropriate summation for a campaign that has been all about revenge since its inception.
Revenge against rich people who don’t “pay their fair share”; revenge against intransient Congressional Republicans, who brought the president’s legislative agenda to a halt; revenge against Republican sexism, for defending religious liberty from the health reform leviathan; revenge against Mitt Romney, a soulless dementor who will eat your soul, send your job overseas and kill your wife.
The Chicago-run gutter campaign is quite different from the one we saw in 2008, when Obama gave his supporters hope he would change the nation.
Instead, unemployment is higher than it was when Obama was inaugurated, the federal budget deficit has been over $1 trillion every year since he took office, and our economy is growing by less than two percent a year.
The president can point to studies and speculate about Mitt Romney’s economic agenda, but when it comes to the president’s economic policies, we don’t need a study. We’ve already seen how they’ve played out over the past four years.
The president inherited an economy in recession, but he has also spent trillions of taxpayer dollars trying to turn it around. He shepherded his stimulus bill through Congress, extended unemployment, bailed out failing companies, signed financial regulatory reform, and increased domestic discretionary spending.
Despite those efforts, 23 million Americans are still looking for work today, nearly one in six are in poverty (the highest rate in a generation), and 47 million are on food stamps.
President Obama tried to help the economy, but he failed. The financial crisis was caused by a complicated series of events and policies that needed to be examined and addressed thoughtfully and energetically. Instead, the president sought to turn the crisis into a political turning point that would allow him to advance his liberal legislative agenda.
If re-elected, the president will continue to pursue that agenda from the White House, implementing by regulation or decree what he can’t convince Congress to pass. Washington, D.C. would remain divided, and our political system would remain stagnant.
Mitt Romney is a better choice.
The path he offers is not radical or transformational. In the closing days of the campaign, Romney has emphasized his experience working with a Democratic legislature as governor of Massachusetts, leading the 2002 Winter Olympics, and serving in the private sector.
Mitt Romney is good at organizing people to accomplish great tasks, and if he is elected we can expect him to quickly start organizing people to address the economy and the government’s fiscal situation.
The result won’t be the immediate passage of major reforms like those contained in Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, but smaller victories that gradually constrain the government to its historical size.
The largest such victory would be the repeal of President Obama’s health care law, so that the government’s already unsustainable health care obligations won’t be expanded to include President Obama’s new entitlement in 2014.
The nation’s business would finally be conducted with an eye toward its long-term financial health, and serious entitlement reform would at least be an eventual possibility.
Tax rates won’t go up, and could even go down if Romney is able to convince enough lawmakers to support reasonable tax reforms that lower tax rates but broaden the tax base so that revenues remain constant.
The government would be friendlier toward energy exploration, and job-creating projects like the Keystone XL pipeline would be approved.
That is not a revolutionary agenda. It is a return to normalcy after four years of Obama’s grandiosity; a government focused on solving actual economic challenges instead of using the economy as a pretext for social experimentation.
Mitt Romney would, however, represent a dramatic break from Mr. Obama, who has subverted the real and pressing concerns of American families to his transformational ambitions.
That transformation hasn’t worked.
It is time for a new course. It is time for a new president.
Tray Smith is a senior majoring in journalism.