I cast my vote yesterday, and I voted for Mitt Romney. I know my particular vote won’t make a big difference – I live in a solid Republican state whose six electoral votes have never been in doubt – so voting early has not robbed me of any election-night excitement. And to be fair, my vote has never been in doubt. I first met Mitt Romney 40 years ago; I knew his parents and know his siblings; I count Ann Romney’s two brothers among my great friends. So my view – like everyone’s – is biased. But my bias has the advantage of being based at least somewhat on personal knowledge. So here are some reasons why I voted for Mitt.
1. First of all, let me be very clear that I voted for Mitt Romney, not the caricature of Mitt Romney created by the Obama campaign. The Mitt Romney I know is far different from the Mitt Romney that Obama created as his campaign opponent. The Mitt Romney I know is complex, compassionate, pragmatic, nuanced – not always good qualities for a campaign, but certainly good qualities for a leader. Like his father, he is a man who cares deeply about people, is not driven by rigid ideology, and works hard – and successfully – to find real solutions to real problems. The Mitt Romney I voted for has little resemblance to the uncaring, mean-spirited candidate created by the Obama campaign. Obama’s stump speech following the first debate included the repeated message that a different Romney showed up at the debate, and in a sense the President was right – the Romney who showed up at the debate was Mitt Romney, not the spinning cardboard cutout that the Obama campaign had created. The President seemed genuinely surprised that the opposing candidate whom he had carefully created in a multi-million dollar advertising campaign didn’t actually exist.
2. Romney actually has ideas and a plan. For better or for worse, he published his plan early and it contained 88 pages and 59 points. A 59-point plan hardly makes a good campaign slogan, and he has recently boiled it down to five major issues, easier to grasp but probably still hard to reduce to short sound bites. It may not be simple, but it is a real plan. By contrast, it seems that the only plan the Obama campaign has is, as David Axelrod famously said, “to destroy Romney.” When even Democratic operatives were privately pleading for the President to give voters some reason to reelect him, some new direction, he simply had nothing to offer but more of the same. As as the public largely began to realize, attacking Romney really isn’t a plan for the future. Within hours after I cast my vote, the President’s campaign released a glossy 20-page “plan” booklet, but it was too little and too late. And it’s nothing new: a photograph of Obama on every page and enough slogans to fill a full-length stump speech. The reality is and has been that the Obama campaign has very little of substance to talk about – a poor record in the economy, some worrisome failures in foreign policy, and no new ideas.
3. Romney actually gets things done. Both candidates promise to create jobs, make the world safer, and build the middle class. But only one candidate has a track record of real accomplishment. Like his father, Mitt is a problem solver. He finds ways to actually get things done and recognizes that real success in politics is only achievable when you are willing to work with others. He inherited a problem with the Olympics that was, in fact, much worse than anyone really knew. He didn’t blame his predecessors, he gathered everyone together and made things work. In Massachusetts he worked with a Democratic legislature and actually balanced the budget. Getting things done in the political arena requires patience, tenacity, hard work, and compromise. Obama’s self-proclaimed greatest achievement – Obamacare – became law without a single vote from the minority party. And as Bob Woodward reports in his latest book, when Obama didn’t get his way in the budget talks, he literally walked out of the room. I wanted to vote for a candidate whose ego does not get in the way of solving problems.
4. Almost everyone agrees that Romney and Obama have different views about the America’s place in the world and its future at home. I am still of the notion that America is exceptional and has a unique role in the world, and my view is that the President has diminished that role during the past four years. And I worry that Obama’s narrative of himself simply doesn’t reflect reality – when terrorists attached the consulate in Benghazi on the anniversary of the 9/11, the act didn’t fit the narrative that we had broken the back of al Queda, and for days the administration emphasized that the attack was spontaneous reaction to a video clip (that had been around for nearly a year).
5. Finally, I voted for Romney because I have lost all confidence in the credibility of the President. When I heard Obama say in the last debate that he will never allow Iran to obtain nuclear warheads, my mind instantly flashed to other promises he has made:
“I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office.”
“Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.”
“[Joe Biden and I will] turn the page on the ugly partisanship in Washington, so we can bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass an agenda that works for the American people.”
As others have noted, he gave a great speech. But where is the credibility?
When Romney challenged Obama on the President’s characterization of the attack in Benghazi, the President insisted that he had on day one called it a terrorist attack. “Read the transcript,” he said. So I did. And I read the comments by the Administration during the week after the attack. I found it stunning that the President of the United States would insist on national television that he had called this a terrorist attack from the first. If he had any credibility left, he lost it during the last debate.
So when I cast my vote earlier this week, it was in part to help restore Obama’s credibility: “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
You may have a different opinion, and you may live where your vote may make a difference. Whatever your view, I encourage you to vote.