Sunday, August 05, 2012

Endorsement: President Barack Obama

The funny thing is, before he ran for President the first time, I kind of liked Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. I did not vote for him when he ran for Governor here in 2002. But mid-way through his term, I was seriously considering voting for him when I assumed he would run for re-election in 2006 (which would have been my first vote for a Republican candidate, ever).

Governor Romney supported the rights of women and was pro-choice. He argued passionately for universal healthcare in Massachusetts, and he convinced me as to its merits. He was a moderate reformer who in many states would have been considered a Democrat.

Then Mitt decided to run for President. And ever since then, I have not been able to recognize the man. He's suddenly pro-life. He's suddenly closed off even to the idea of same-sex marriage. His universal healthcare law here is suddenly no longer the right prescription for the country's healthcare system.

Most of Mitt's changes on policy are not explainable. But his strategy from a PR perspective is to keep repeating his new, Republican-friendly policy positions until everyone will forget to ask why he's changed his mind---on all of them.

But we have not forgotten here in Massachusetts, and perhaps that's why Mitt trails President Obama here in polls by 20 points or more. Think about that. A Presidential candidate this year is not only going to lose his home state, he's going to lose in embarrassing fashion. Perhaps that's why, like on so many other issues, Romney waffles on which state is actually his home. It's Michigan ahead of the primary there. It's Utah when he's there. It's New Hampshire when he's interviewed on TV. But make no mistake, on election day, Mitt will have to travel to Belmont, Massachusetts to cast his own vote.

It baffles me that anyone would even consider voting for a man who has flip-flopped so much, who insulted world leaders on a recent trip abroad, and who claims to not even know when his own wife's participation in the Olympics will take place. Vice President Cheney was proud of his daughter's marriage to another women---even with the political consequences. But because his wife is associated with a sport that is positioned as elitist, Romney is programmed to not care about the sport, or his wife's involvement.

I would be laughing if it were not for the fact the polls are close. And that's why I will be working my butt off this Fall to earn re-election for President Barack Obama. I will be voting for President Obama in November. I will also be voting for him in early September when I serve as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Trust me, I am wary of some of the things the President has done. I wish he would have done more when he had the chance to pass climate change legislation, as an example. But when it comes to this election, and this time, there's just no question among the candidates who is better equipped to lead our country.

As the President would say, "so, let's review":

-- President Obama reformed our healthcare system, including codifying many rules that are just human: eliminating the proclivity of insurance companies to deny coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, mandating coverage for young adults on their parents' policies, and eliminating lifetime caps on insurance benefits. This is NOT a government takeover of healthcare, and if you look at the monetary estimates, the law as written will reduce government spending. (I know, that's not what we've heard repeated many times from Republicans, who again believe if you say it enough times, people will assume it's true.)

-- President Obama killed Osama Bin Laden. He has been focused since day one on taking on those who wish to harm the United States where they are actually located (in Afghanistan as opposed to Iraq).

-- President Obama fully supports equal protection under the law for all Americans, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. This is in lockstep with where our country is headed. We are a diverse, supportive bunch. As President Clinton famously said in the 90's, our diversity is our strength. We must embrace it and not go backwards. On women's rights, I was frankly embarrassed by some of the views Mitt Romney had to stand next to during his party's primary fight. No doubt he will change his views this summer. He has to, as the Republican stances are out of step with where the country needs to go.

The biggest criticism of the President from voters at large is his handling of the economy. The problem with the economy right now is uncertainty. The ironic truth is that the President has been certain in his prescription for the economy. However, since Congress is not doing anything, it's creating uncertainty. The further irony is that Mitt Romney has not said anything about how he would help the economy. If anything, his election would create more uncertainty for businesses of all sizes.

When I first thought to write this column, I was going to relate this year's election to that of 1996. Then, as now, a Democrat was seeking re-election. That Democrat had ideas that would move the country forward (remember "the bridge to the 21st century"?). His opponent was a respected Republican who preferred the nostalgia of the past. I was going to talk about how elections are not times for nostalgia; they are times to look forward.

Except comparing Bob Dole to Mitt Romney is an insult to Bob Dole. Mitt Romney is a caricature of a candidate, saying what he needs to say so people will like him. He said what he needed to say when he was my governor to potentially convince me to vote for him back in 2004. I urge you: Don't be fooled now.

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