By Lynn Paris
After all the hoopla of the Republican primaries and the wacky sideshows known as the Republican debates, we finally have the Republican nominee, the one most of us assumed it would be from the beginning. I admit there was a part of me that wanted all that silliness to go on a bit longer . . . the spontaneous implosions and pure vitriol made for some gripping reality TV. I’ll also admit that it depresses me when I hear the pundits say that voters won’t remember how badly wounded Romney was by his flip-flopping hypocritical pandering now that the real campaign has begun. On the other hand, I’m guessing that regular voters won’t be too impressed with charges made against Romney for not being “conservative enough” by the likes of Santorum or Gingrich. The “extremely conservative” candidate into whom Romney has morphed is conservative enough to provide us all with a clear choice come November.
Indeed, Romney . . . a man we all once considered a moderate Republican, has thrown his lot in with the tea party, House Republicans and Paul Ryan’s eviscerating budget. It is quite a phenomenon, really, to watch this man repudiate every worthwhile thing he has ever accomplished in order to curry favor with the right wing fringe. How is it possible that these extremists wield such power over Republicans? Okay, I’m straying from my point to question something I’ll never understand anyway, so back to my point.
We have a clear choice in November. I’m not denying for a minute the fact that super-PACS are running amok or that Citizens United sucks or that big money ultimately controls everything. I’m also not naively claiming that Romney is the only politician who lies (Although he’s a consummate liar, a truly polished, sophisticated liar, and that scares me to death because not everyone checks these things out like I do).
I’m also aware of what Obama has failed to do, of the promises not kept and the tougher stances I wish he had taken on many issues. All of that notwithstanding; we have a very clear choice in November. We can either go forward or we can go backward. We can continue to innovate and invent and build and educate, or we can regress into another kind of country, the kind of country we’ve only read about. We can either attempt to stay true to what America has always been at its core . . . a fair and compassionate country, or we can opt to be something else . . . a country where the tremendous gap between the wealthiest few and everyone else comes to define us, like apartheid defined South Africa or the caste system defined India.
Because I really believe Obama is right when he said, “I can’t remember a time when the choice between two competing visions of our future has been so unambiguously clear.”
Those competing visions really center on the role of the federal government in this country. Democrats and progressives believe that government can do some things better than the free market or private citizens can. They believe we need government’s help to support research and development, protect us against consumer fraud, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, provide security for the elderly, and educate our citizens so they can compete in the global marketplace. Republicans, at least the current crop, do not.
For some inexplicable reason, the Republicans want to continue with the policies that got us into this mess in the first place, only they want to double down on them.
That means even more money to the wealthy and even less support and resources to the poor and the middle class. That means huge spending cuts to the safety nets that have protected us and our neighbors during unemployment or recession. It means huge cuts to public education – from pre-school through college -- which is already suffering from massive budget cuts at a time when it is critical to the future of this country that we provide more accessible and affordable education to all. How ironic that this year marks the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, established by Republican Abraham Lincoln, that instituted land-grant universities so that not just an elite few, but all citizens could benefit from higher education.
It also means huge cuts to environmental protection, which shouldn’t be a partisan concept; we all should want safe water and clean air, which is obviously why Republican Richard Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency and Republican George H.W. Bush passed the Clean Air Act.
It seems to me that today’s Republicans, now led by their nominee, Mitt Romney, believe government is useful for waging war, cutting taxes and making sure that private industry is unregulated. And he and his fellow Republicans will tell you the more we cut taxes on the rich and deregulate industry, the more jobs will be created.
The polls show that Obama is more likable, but they also show that more people believe that Romney can fix the economy. If that’s your choice, we’ll see how many jobs will be created by following the Republican’s vision. If that’s not your choice, then give Obama a chance to finish what he’s started. Choose to go forward.