Politics Explained: Why Reelect Obama

Newspaper endorsements for President Obama’s reelection have ranged from the New York Times’ “enthusiastic” endorsement, to the Economist’s rather depressing one. My enthusiasm for Obama’s reelection leans more towards the Times’, but I don’t fear a Romney presidency in the way that the Times or even the Economist does; nonetheless, it’s critical to vote Democrat in this election in order to stop Republican obstructionism and move Republicans back towards the middle.

 

Obama has done a good job with the hand he was dealt by the circumstances he inherited in January of 2009. His achievements have not matched the lofty rhetoric of his campaign speeches four years ago, but his record is actually quite impressive: The stimulus bill, which helped prevent another Great Depression; financial reform with the Dodd-Frank bill; military retrenchment in Iraq and Afghanistan while neutralizing Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups; and above all, the Affordable Care Act which, if Democrats can hold on to power, will provide health insurance for millions of Americans and finally put America among the ranks of every other industrialized country in the world in having universal health care access. Furthermore, Obama managed to do this in spite of extreme Republican obstructionism, particularly in the last two years. Republicans nearly destroyed the country’s credit rating by holding the national deficit hostage to drastic spending cuts; they even rejected deficit reduction plans which would cut ten dollars in spending for every one dollar in tax increases. That Obama has been successful in spite of this makes his record all the more impressive.

 

At the same time, however, I don’t dread the possibility of a Romney presidency. For one, a President Romney would come closer to “moderate Mitt” than the extreme personality we witnessed in the primary season. Romney’s proposed tax cuts would help spur economic growth, although I worry that the corresponding reduction of tax deductions will do more harm than tax cuts will help the nation. Also, Romney is not an idealist, and his pragmatism should be useful in forging compromises with Blue Dogs in the House and conservative Democrats in the Senate. For these reasons, Romney could be a successful president; of course, he could just as well give in to the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party and, particularly if Republicans control both chambers of Congress, create the most ideologically conservative government in American history. But Romney’s fiscal agenda over the next four years would not be significantly more conservative than Obama’s and his ability to gain bipartisan support because of Democrats’ willingness to compromise would probably mean that Congress could get more done.

 

Nonetheless, there are a few reasons why voting Democrat in this election is critical. First of all, Republicans’ rejection of science and rationality in recent times truly frightens me. Their rejection of science shows up most frequently with their denial of climate change, but their attacks on Obama and the Democratic Party are frequently misleading and irrational. Secondly, congressional Republicans’ absolute refusal to compromise and their willingness to do significant harm to America in order to fulfill an unrealistic ideology require that they suffer electoral losses in order that Republicans understand they do not have a popular mandate to slash government services. Democrats have moved to the center in response to the Republicans’ shift to the right. This willingness to compromise is critical for America to be successful, and voting Democrat rewards that. Finally, Democrats are committed to helping the working class and poor in a way that Republicans are not. Personal responsibility is a necessary characteristic of success in a capitalist system, but the “compassionate conservatism” of prior Republicans seems to be gone. Given Romney’s proposed plan on taxes, military spending, Medicare, and Social Security, the remaining government programs would have to be cut by about 40% on average by 2016, and Medicaid and other social welfare programs would surely be hit the hardest among those. Encouraging personal responsibility and eliminating wasteful government spending is one thing; halving the benefits to the poor to decrease taxes on the rich is quite another proposal.

 

Obama has done a great job in his first term and can do more in a second. The economy is rebounding and will continue to grow in another Obama term. The health care bill will take effect in 2014 if he remains president, giving millions access to health care. Immigration reform, simplification of the tax code, and the implementation of a carbon tax are all issues that Obama will pursue in a second term. I believe, above all, that the Republican Party at the congressional level has gone too far to the right, and Democratic victory in this election is essential for the future of our government and our country.


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