Cole: Finishing the Job
When you go to the polls, you will face a stark choice between a president who entered office with two wars raging and an economy on the brink, but nonetheless brought us to a point of stability, and a formerly moderate governor who wants to bring back failed economic policies and backward social policies. We are all about to enter the "real world," and what happens on Tuesday will matter.
What's important in this election? Former President Bill Clinton is famous for saying, "It's the economy, stupid." Well, President Barack Obama took a stumbling economy and immediately worked to stop further job loss. He introduced a stimulus bill, which not only helped to bring our economy back to life but also gave tax relief to millions of Americans and began the process of modernizing our crumbling infrastructure. When Mitt Romney said that we should let Detroit go bankrupt, Obama decided to make an investment in the auto industry that is paying off. When circumstances called for bailing out the banks, Obama not only made sure that the money was paid back but also that struggling homeowners would be helped. Have a student loan? By taking out banks as the middlemen, Obama has already cut the cost of student loans. We all benefit from Obamacare, which allows students to stay on our parent's insurance until we turn 26 while creating exchanges that leverage the power of competition.
Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan are nowhere near the financial experts that they claim to be. Although they present themselves as concerned about the deficit and middle America, they propose a tax cut for the wealthy that can only be balanced by increasing taxes on the middle class. They have abandoned the idea of completely replacing Medicare with a voucher system, but the system they propose would still cannibalize Medicare and would bankrupt the system sooner. Why should we trust these people with our economy when they can't even get their numbers to add up? Want more details on their plan? Wait until after the election.
And this election is about more than just the economy. Reproductive freedom, LGBT equality, our environment and immigration reform are all at stake.
What's tragic is that Romney used to be somewhat moderate. He used to support a woman's right to choose. Before he mocked global warming at the Republican National Convention, he advocated for research in renewable energy. And before he started pandering to the gun lobby, he supported sensible gun control that made the streets of Massachusetts safer. While my vote in this election would likely be the same, the old Romney would have been a formidable challenger for Obama. He would have shown that moderate Republicans still exist. But this isn't the man running for president.
There is only one candidate in this race who supports an "equal pay for equal work" bill. There is only one candidate in this race who stands on the side of marriage equality and has worked to protect the right of LGBT Americans to serve in the military and receive federal benefits. There is only one candidate in this race who embraces a woman's right to choose. There is only one candidate in this race who has fully embraced the DREAM Act.
I was not always such an enthusiastic Obama supporter. I supported him after he won the Democratic primary, but his goals still seemed lofty to me, and I was unsure if he would bring about real change or whether "real change" could even be defined. But looking back, I know that America made the right choice. Are we better off than we were four years ago? If you look at job growth: yes. If you believe that women, gays and children who are "illegal" through no fault of their own deserve the same shot at the American dream: yes. And if you agree with Vice President Joe Biden that we are better off when "bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive:" yes.
We still have work to do. No one thinks that our health care problem is completely solved. Our economy is not fully back on track and we need to find a way to fix it without further increasing our deficit. Immigration reform needs to happen. But there is only one candidate who has shown a willingness to face these issues head on and doesn't change his positions for political expediency. Obama has already taken the first steps to solve the tough problems from which many of his predecessors have run. I'm voting for Obama so he can finish the job.