The Economist magazine recently endorsed President Obama for a second term, though reluctantly. The general thrust of the publication’s argument is that while the current president has made several grave policy mistakes and has failed to effectively fix an economy that he (is falsely credited as having) saved, the alternative is worse. I sympathize with the magazine’s lack of options, though I am personally supporting Governor Mitt Romney based on the same logic: the other guy is worse.
Four years after President Obama took office, the classical liberal in me has struggled to find many actual pieces of legislation or policies of his that I am comfortable supporting. On the economy, the auto bailout, the stimulus, health care reform, and the complete failure to take leadership over any long-term debt solution, have been serious causes of concern, but at least I could have predicted that those are areas that the president and I would disagree on.
However, on social policy, where I assumed that the president would live up to the rhetoric of four years ago and lead this nation on a new course of unabridged liberty for all people, I believe the president has been a complete failure. Some may cite the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the president’s forced endorsement of same-sex marriage as a signal of better things to come, but I don’t see the country any closer to ending our harassment of non-violent drug users, departing from our senseless immigration policies, moving away from the unabashed use of drones in high population density areas, or any further along in engaging in a productive dialogue (with “productive” being the key word here) on the subjects of race, sexuality, and socioeconomic differences.
In this regard, Romney will be a stronger leader, if not a perfect one. His insistence on lowering tax rates for all Americans, repealing the harmful reforms under the Affordable Care Act, and openly discussing the pervasive and destructive effects that our growing welfare state is imposing on so many Americans is extremely important to me, even if the politics surrounding these issues may force him to compromise on some of these issues. On social issues — where liberals of both classical and American stripes may wonder how I could possibly endorse Romney — I do not have the sense that a President Romney would prioritize pushing a socially conservative agenda during his time in office. Many have attacked Mr. Romney as a potential “CEO-in-chief,” but on social issues, this is his strength: CEOs don’t care who their employees marry or where they come from, and I suspect that Romney will govern in much the same style. On the other hand, what CEOs do care about is how prepared their workers are to actually work, and so I believe a President Romney would prioritize education reform from the outset.
For these reasons, I am supporting Mitt Romney, and hoping that his election will serve as a sharp rebuke to the failed policies of the last four years. If my vote decided the election, there are other candidates who I think would better lead our country through 2016. Unfortunately, however, I am left with only this option: to vote against the man who projects exactly the type of principles and values that I believe our country doesn't need.