STIRRETT: Vote to Continue Forward
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 03:11
I remember the exuberance that surrounded the election of Barack Obama as president four years ago. Even though I was living in Canada, I recall going to school the next day and hearing everyone talk exclusively about the election. My headmaster devoted a school assembly to talking about the meaning of Obama’s victory.
The 2008 election generated unprecedented levels of hope and optimism for an incoming president, even among non-Americans. These unrealistic expectations were so high that even a combination of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan would not have been able to meet them. What’s worse, President Obama inherited an economy that was shedding 600,000 jobs a month as a result of what was possibly the most severe economic contraction since the Great Depression.
This combination of extremely high expectations and very poor economic conditions created significant challenges for Obama. In the end, even with these difficult circumstances, the administration has been able to add almost five million jobs over the past 30 months.
On the foreign policy front, Obama brought Osama bin Laden to justice and ended the Iraq War. His administration has pushed to increase the United States’ trade interests abroad by signing free trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia.
The president has shown great courage in civil rights by publicly declaring his support for marriage equality, becoming the first sitting president to do so. The Obama administration ended the discriminatory “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which had barred gays from the military. Now, LGBTQ youths facing discrimination across the country know that their nation’s leader stands with them, even if the schoolyard bully does not.
Obama has demonstrated his support for women through his continuous advocacy for women’s health and reproductive rights. For example, the first bill signed into law by the president was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which mandated that men and women receive equal compensation in the workplace.
I have to admit that I made the switch from Republican to Democrat relatively recently. I knew the Republican Party had left me when, in September 2008, John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. The GOP’s increasing conservatism on social issues, coupled with an abandonment of true fiscal prudence, also caused me to make the switch.
I believe in a balanced budget and a government that gives equal opportunities to all citizens. This means investing in education and instituting progressive tax rates that would require that those with more contribute more to the provision of public goods.
Mitt Romney is not at all a bad man. In many ways, it is hard to relate to him because he is so perfect. His family looks like they came out of a catalog, and he has had a wildly successful and commendable career as a businessman and politician. But my issue is not so much with Romney but with the rest of the Republican Party. There is a problem when demagogues such as Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain can rally such large portions of the Republican base.
By contrast, thoughtful Republicans such as Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are being increasingly pushed out of the party and being replaced by Tea Party reactionaries.
It is with this in mind that I proudly support President Obama’s re-election for a second term. Four more years will allow the administration to help make the United States fairer and more prosperous. I look forward to a United States where one can marry who he or she loves, where children who have lived their entire lives here yet happen to be undocumented can go to college and where anyone, regardless of his parents’ backgrounds, can become president. On all of these counts, electing Romney would send America backwards.
But beyond the important moral issues of our time, Barack Obama will continue to put the United States back on track. His administration will continue job growth and push for the only real way to decrease the deficit, which is to cut spending and increase taxes.
Andrew Sullivan, one of the great political bloggers, has written extensively on a “conservative case for Obama.” As someone who identifies as a conservative in my native Canada, Sullivan’s message definitely resonates with me. I support Obama because he embodies true conservative principles, like levelheadedness and pragmatism.
In the end, both my heart and head tell me to support the re-election of Barack Obama.The current administration may not have been perfect, but the United States desperately needs four more years of movement in this direction.
SCOTT STIRRETT is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.