This election, the buck stops here. Or maybe not.
President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney could not be more different. Not necessarily in their policies, which the third debate showed they have a few areas of agreement on, but instead what they represent for voters and a generation.
This election is not a choice between Obama and Romney. It is a choice between easy-to-hear promises and hard-to-hear solutions.
Obama won in 2008 on promise alone. He was young, unproven, untested, and inexperienced. He was a state representative who won a senate seat. He then spent most of his time as a senator running for president.
That inexperience actually helped him win in an election where voters weary for change looked to a candidate they saw as an outsider. But that inexperience has a downside. Coming from a state like Illinois, which is politically dominated by Democrats, and serving his first 2 years in office with supermajorities in both houses, Obama had never had to reach across the aisle in his career.
The new House brought on by a 2010 Republican landslide promised to stop the policies voters saw in the first two years of Obama’s presidency. Nothing has gotten done since. That is because Obama is an ideologue and not a pragmatist. He never had to work with people on the other side before and his inexperience shows.
After four years of an Obama presidency, we have a government with a larger deficit, more gridlock and the same unemployment rate. The economy is slow to recover and nothing is being done about it because Obama continues to blame current problems on his political opponents and then do nothing to solve them.
On the other hand, Romney has experience working across the aisle. He had to deal with not one but two houses controlled by Democrats in his tenure as governor of Massachusetts. Together they were able to break through gridlock and balance that state’s budget.
Then why, considering Romney’s experience and Obama’s failures in the last two years, is the race in a dead heat? Because the public is not fully receptive of Romney’s message.
Romney is looking at reforms that drastically change the operations of social programs such as Social Security and Medicare, in order to increase their longevity and cut the debt. The problem is people are happy with these programs and their private benefits, despite the fact that the programs are unsustainable and are going to break the bank. Romney is not particularly eloquent and his talk of reform is uncomfortable.
On the other hand, Obama’s loquacious promises of recovery and blaming of others, despite the fact that he has yet to deliver on his promise of recovery from four years ago, are easy to hear. He deals with the deficit by taxing the rich. Yet the tax increases he talks about would barely pay off the interest on the debt. No matter. Taxing the rich sounds much better than making changes to a comfortable status quo. Blaming Republicans is easier than working with them.
The uncomfortable truth is we have a bad economy and a worse deficit hanging over our collective heads like a bad omen. Four years ago, Obama won by asking the country to look to the future for relief. After four years of non-recovery he is asking us to yet again look to the future for hope. But the future only holds more of the same if we rely on the promises of one man, who is unwilling and unable to compromise.
Instead, we as a nation need to say the buck stops here and commit to asking the hard questions and working together to create solutions today. That is hard work and isn’t easy to hear.
The election is not about the two candidates. It is about this generation of Americans. This election will tell whether America is willing to do hard work for a better tomorrow or if it will continue simply hoping for it.