Each time I mention that I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, I get a blast from some who didn’t. “How could you be so dumb?” is a typical response to my confession.
It is certainly a confession — of error. Obama fooled me once, but not twice. I’m voting for Mitt Romney Nov. 6th.
To understand why I’m switching, it helps to understand why I backed Obama four years ago. I am a Democrat, but vote as an independent. I see people, not parties, so Obama’s label played no role.
My choice involved a simple calculation. Would John McCain or Obama be more likely to forge a consensus on big issues? America was dangerously polarized, and unable to act in ways that even 60 percent of the public could support. History shows that paralysis leads to disaster.
The war on terror was falling out of favor, despite the continuing threat. Good ideas were getting thrown out with the bad and Republicans had squandered the chance to govern.
When the financial crisis hit, McCain stumbled. He wanted to postpone a debate and rushed back to Washington — but had nothing to say or do. Obama kept silent and followed the lead of congressional Democrats. While not exactly great statesmanship, he at least looked steady.
McCain, a genuine American hero, often revealed his maverick streak, his choice of Sarah Palin being Exhibit A. Despite doubts about her readiness, I found myself defending her against the vicious attacks from the left, especially by women.
McCain was my real problem. Mavericks make good whistleblowers and lousy CEOs. Upsetting the apple cart is not a qualification for the Oval Office.
Obama’s soaring rhetoric enticed me at first, and I agreed that a restoration of the Clinton presidency would be a bad idea. Still, I got a jolt of Messiah Alert when he said his rise marked the moment “when the planet began to heal.”
Where he totally fooled me was his claim to be a pragmatist, not an ideologue. He spoke of uniting the country and I believed he was capable and sincere. That he won 70 million votes and more than two-thirds of the Electoral College spoke to his appeal.
He failed as president because he is incompetent, dishonest and not interested in the actual work of governing. His statist policies helped consign millions of Americans to a lower standard of living and his odious class warfare further divided the nation. He had no intention of uniting the country — it was his Big Lie.
I don’t hate him. But I sure as hell don’t trust him.
As for the desperate charge that opposition to Obama makes me a racist, let me note that he was black when I voted for him.
Which brings us to Romney. A year ago, I thought he might be acceptable, maybe the only one in the GOP field. Now I see him as much more than acceptable.
During the long slog, Romney revealed qualities that could make him a very good president. There is not a hint of scandal in his life or career, and his economic policies could spark real growth in jobs, not in food stamps.
He keenly recognizes the danger of the growing debt. With Paul Ryan, he chose a youthful, smart No. 2 who possesses deep knowledge of the budget mess and yet an optimistic view of America’s future.
On the foreign stage, Romney is a novice, but his instincts about American power are right and his remarks in the last debate about Obama’s apology tour were a defining difference. It is impossible to imagine Romney going abroad to criticize his country, or lying about the murder of an ambassador. The challenger is right when he says Obama has made the nation less safe.
Romney is no “movement conservative,” but is moderate and prudent in the everyday ways of most Americans. As he proved in Massachusetts, he can work with Democrats to get things done.
As for being a Mormon, to hold that against Romney is pure bigotry. His election would knock down one more barrier to equality of opportunity.
Finally, there is temperament. Romney’s firm, steady demeanor during Obama’s rancid attempts at character assassination demonstrates the presidential character lacking in the incumbent. That’s the change I want for my country.
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