Obama vs. Romney

I haven’t made many political posts in the last four years. That’s probably a good thing since it means there’s been fewer high profile political attacks on the LGBT community. Last night’s presidential debate, and our political process in general, has me worked up enough that I feel like I need to get some thoughts down.

This has been the nastiest political campaign I’ve ever witnessed. Because Virginia is perceived as as “up for grabs” the airwaves have been flooded with political advertising. Almost all of it is negative. A great deal of it is factually suspect, if not outright lies.

Both sides have been hip deep in this mess though to my admittedly subjective eyes, the Romney campaign and the Republican super PACs have been particularly egregious. There is something wrong when a candidate will say anything to get elected even when it isn’t true. Romney has been particularly bad at this. He wants to blame the economic crisis on Obama and lose the context of just how bad it was when Obama took office. It doesn’t work that way. We should not have such short memories.

Did Obama make some overly optimistic promises that he couldn’t keep? Yes. Has the bleeding stopped and the recovery begun? Also, yes. You don’t fix a decade of bad decisions in four years. The economy does not turn on a dime (pun intended). It’s actually fairly impressive that Obama has done as much as he has given the Republican party’s stated goal when he took office. I think it was John Boehner who said that their sole goal was denying Obama a second term. Not a word about governing or fixing our problems. Getting back power was all they cared about.

Romney has tried to portray himself as a bipartisan consensus builder. In Massachusetts, where he faced a legislature largely controlled by the other party he had to be. However, it takes two sides to compromise. In DC, the Republican Party has forgotten the meaning of the word. That limits what anyone can do. And now they want to blame Obama for not overcoming the roadblocks they threw in his path!

This is not to say Obama is perfect. I did not really agree with the stimulus package he pushed. However, it does seem to have had a positive effect. Not as much as the Obama campaign says and not as little as the Romney campaign says but enough to get the economy growing and promote job growth. It has amplified the deficit though and it is a problem that will take decades to address. Don’t believe any candidate who says it an be fixed in four years.

Whatever Obamas faults are, we know where he stands and what he stands for. Romney says whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear. First he’s for a woman’s right to choose and then he’s against it. Then he’s for making exceptions in the case of rape or incest. Then he’s against it. Then he’s for it again. What does he really think?

First he wants tax cuts for the wealthy. Then he doesn’t. In this case I think the former is actually true but he’s hiding it behind spin. But, how do we really know? He’s changed so many of his positions that he’s like a teflon candidate. He doesn’t stick to any position.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for people changing their positions. People should be open to change, to growth and honest enough to admit when they were wrong. Obama did this when he voiced his support for marriage equality. We knew where he stood before. We know where he stands now. More importantly, we know when and how he changed his mind.

Romney says one thing to a conservative audience and another to a national audience. He then denies the earlier statement or says it was taken out of context or tries to spin it. Which is the real Mitt?

Do we really want to find out what a president believes only when he takes office? Would you buy a car without a test drive? Would you buy a house without an inspection? Romney says, “Trust me. I can fix all our problems,” but when pressed for details he equivocates. Obama gives specifics.

After watching both men for years I still don’t think Romney has any real empathy with what middle class issues are and for those in poverty, well, they could be from another planet so far as Mitt is concerned. He thinks that companies should be free to do what they want and only in that way will they create jobs. What he fails to realize is that three decades of eliminating regulations created an environment where companies could do what they wanted. Their actions drove our economy to the brink of collapse. Romney appears to have failed to learn anything from this.

Romney decries the high number of people getting government assistance. But, he would eliminate the programs that assist them. He thinks that letting companies keep that money would assist them better. I think they would just put the money in their own pockets and forget the rest of us. Look at what many banks did with stimulus money. They were suppose to use it for loans but instead they used it to bolster their bottom line and give themselves bonuses. It’s a clear example of how that part of the stimulus failed to have the desired effect but it is also a perfect model for what Romney’s policies would do.

Government, for all its faults has the goal of serving its constituents. Companies, particularly public companies, exist only to make a profit. Expecting altruism from corporations is foolish. The only reason companies do anything resembling altruism is because of tax write offs and promoting their brand. In neither case is it truly altruistic. Romney’s actions would eliminate the first carrot. Does he really think they will do what little they do now out of the goodness of their heart? Or will they just keep the extra profit? Will the first create jobs or first line their pockets. HIstory says it will be the latter.

Romney says he believes in small government and that government should not be involved in our day to day lives. Yet he seems more concerned about keeping governments influence over corporations small then its influence over people. Don’t regulate companies but do regulate people. He would tell you what medical procedures you can’t have or who you can’t marry but he wouldn’t tell a company to limit its pollution. How do those positions match up with what he says about small government?

In my lifetime we have had three presidents that ran on small government platforms, Reagan, and the Bushes. All, particularly Reagan and George W. actually did exactly the opposite. They ran up the debt and expanded government influence in our lives. How, exactly, will Romney differ from them?

Clinton, the so-called Big Spending Democrat, had the first balanced budget in decades. I’m wondering if we have the right labels on these people.

I’m not trying to characterize Romney as evil or Obama as a saint. They are politicians and they live in a complex world that we all want to oversimplify. By its nature that does not promote clear communication. I am trying to portray Romney as someone who is the wrong choice because I think his policies are simply the same policies that helped create the problems. His constituency is the Rich, the Corporations. He believes that by helping them he helps us. That’s the idea behind trickle down economics. But, that’s all we get, that trickle. They keep the bulk of it. And in tough times, that trickle disappears. Those policies have never worked to help poor and middle class people. There is no reason to believe they will work now.

Romney says he knows how to run a business and that gives him the skills to lead the country. But, the government isn’t a business. There are certainly lessons that government needs to learn from business but you don’t run a country like a business.

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