First published on Finding UnCommon Ground on October 4, 2012.
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Last night at my house we turned on the television five minutes before the start of the first presidential debate, watched the match in its entirety on C-SPAN, and turned it off the moment it concluded.
We didn’t need to get the spin because we witnessed what really happened.
Like many Americans, I saw and heard what I needed to see and hear—two statesmen who agree our country has domestic issues. There’s no arguing about that. Our economy, healthcare, and educational system need attention post haste. But these two men have very different ideas about how to help. Yes, I know politicians operate in similar ways. Some of my libertarian friends might say they’re all the same. But last night’s debate confirmed, at least for me, there are real, philosophical differences between the candidates.
Philosophical differences that will set the tone and determine priorities for the next four years.
What we’ve been doing isn’t working. Case in point, the perpetually horrid economy and gridlock in Congress. Of course the President doesn’t bear the sole responsibility for those problems. But like the CEO of a company, the captain of a ship, or the quarterback of an elite team, the president charts the course and steers things in a general direction.
To me, rebuilding the American economy needs to be the top priority. We’re in a recession with no end. Unemployment has been higher than eight percent since February 2009. It’s time to give someone who knows how to run a business successfully a chance to fix this.
Healthcare is in dire straits, but federalizing it isn’t the answer—unless you’re Europe, which we’re not. Does anyone besides me remember the contention with which Obamacare was “passed?” My husband and I aren’t Tea Party members (yet), but we bought our first Gadsden flag in response to Obamacare, for crying out loud.
Healthcare reform is critical. Legislation this big warrants going back to the Congressional drawing board. Repeal Obamacare and replace it with a truly bipartisan plan.
Same goes for the educational system. I don’t want the federal government to dictate things like school lunch menus. To me, that’s a waste of federal resources when state and local governments are more in tune with what works best for their citizens. Let’s trust and empower parents, students, and local leaders with educational choices.
Who doesn’t want us to become energy independent, especially given the instability of the Middle East? I grow weary of hemorrhaging at the pump. Let’s tap our own country’s natural resources and at the same time enlist our brightest minds to develop viable alternatives. Surely we can accomplish this in ethical ways that neither trash the environment nor kowtow to special interests.
Tax rates are high enough already. I don’t want anyone, rich or poor, to pay more taxes. What I do want is for the government to be more responsible with what we pay now. That’s not too much to ask. It’s what all of us have to do within our own households. Make the spending cuts. Grow the revenue with lower unemployment. Balance the budget. Regulate, yes. But do it reasonably. Stop stifling small businesses.
And stop calling individual achievement a group project. Remember this?
I want a smaller, leaner, smarter federal government. I want a leader who unapologetically pledges loyalty to American ingenuity, exceptionalism, and Constitutional freedoms like the freedom of religion. A leader who is present and excited to lead all the citizens. Who has demonstrated he can work successfully with a legislature of the opposite party. Who without a doubt and without a teleprompter reverently values and respects my country.
Bottom line, I want a new President.