First published on Finding UnCommon Ground on October 23, 2012.
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Given that the two candidates are so similar on foreign policy, attitude becomes the critical difference.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney closely align on foreign policy. Both espouse defeating terrorism, bolstering burgeoning democratic societies, and protecting the homeland from attack. Their ideas for how to accomplish these goals differ, but the goals are the same.
When questions turned to China in last night’s debate, I was disappointed that neither candidate was willing to condemn China’s human rights abuses. Come on, people. China’s human rights violations have to be addressed if we are serious about requiring China to “play by the rules.” On Afghanistan, both candidates insisted on 2014 as a hard and fast departure date. We can only hope it will be that easy.
If both candidates are so similar on foreign policy, why do I lean toward Romney and away from Obama? It comes down to attitude—how each man has led or will lead our country at home and on the international stage.
Over the past four years, Obama has acted in ways that make me wonder if he even likes America, much less wants to secure us as a world power. There was the apology tour and bowing to foreign leaders (some Navy SEALs were particularly unhappy about that), talking about our own people as clinging to guns or religion, reluctance to definitively call the bloodshed at Fort Hood and in Libya terrorism, publicly snubbing Israel, and empathizing with our enemies while weakening ties with our allies.
It probably wasn’t Obama’s intention to offend half of the homeland. We can only assume he led in a way he thought was best. His timing, however, was all wrong. It’s not good to kick a country when it’s down, especially when your job is to lead that country to victory.
America isn’t in a good place at home. We struggle personally and collectively. The recession drags on. Our citizens are out of work and can’t find jobs. Our national debt threatens to bankrupt us. Our people are split on key social issues. Our Congress divides on nearly everything. We see our soldiers and diplomats killed at the hands of Islamic terrorism.
Who will stand up for us?
I expect our President to stand up for America. The President of the United States should be our loudest cheerleader. Publicly praising American exceptionalism isn’t arrogant or imperialistic; it’s an encouragement to the people to keep on keeping on. Calling those who attack us terrorists isn’t an insult; it’s speaking the truth borne out in their actions.
The debate last night was mostly chaotic, but I was relieved to hear Romney say things like:
I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia, or Mr. Putin. And I’m certainly not going to say to him, I’ll give you more flexibility after the election. After the election, he’ll get more backbone.
We’ve got to strengthen our military long-term. We don’t know what the world is going to throw at us down the road.
We have to stand for our principles, stand for our allies, stand for a strong military, and stand for a stronger economy.
America has not dictated to other nations. We have freed other nations from dictators.
I’m tired of national uncertainty being our theme at home and wishy-washy political correctness being our song abroad. It’s time for an American comeback, and I want to know without a doubt our President is on our side.