Opinion Essay: The Presidential Election

Monday, November-05-12

By Dave Hood

Who will win the Presidential election on November 6th, 2012? Public opinion polls suggest this election is too close to call. A flood of recent information from public opinion polls sends out conflicting results. Some polls suggest that Mitt Romney will win, while others tell us that Obama will be re-elected. Public opinion polls are not 100% accurate. They have an inaccuracy of 2% or 3%. And so, if a poll suggests that Obama has 47% of the decided vote and Romney has 45%, these figures are not sufficient enough to predict voter behavior. Therefore,  most political pundits and journalists tell us that the election is a dead heat, a coin toss.

As well, these polls must rely on what people tell the person conducting the poll. I’m sure there will be countless people who are not sure whether to vote for Obama or Romney. Often people change their mind in the voter’s booth.  In the last election Canadian election, I have change my mind while sitting in the voter’s booth. Therefore, it becomes difficult to predict how the undecided voters will cast their ballots.

Why is this election so close? First, in the last election, Obama campaigned with promises of “hope” and “change.” He has not delivered. Millions of Americans are out of work or underemployed. The economy continues to sputter. For many who are victims of the “great recession,” four more years of Obama is unappealing. These voters believe that a new leader with a different vision, leadership style, and fresh policies is the solution. And so, Romney is their choice.

Secondly, the election is about “the economy.” The incumbent, President Obama, is being blamed by many voters for the problems of unemployment and slow economic recovery.  And yet, it was the policies of the Republicans under Bush that created the financial crisis four years ago. Romney offers “platitudes”, and doesn’t offer specifics. The educated voter sees through Romney’s ” feel-good” promises. The educated voter also knows that Obama came to office under very difficult economic conditions–the financial system was imploding and auto industry faltering.

Thirdly, in my opinion, Mitt Romney has run a good campaign. He won the first “Presidential Debate,” lost the second, and fought the third debate to a draw. Romney has shown any voter who had doubts that he is attractive, charismatic, intelligent, upbeat, perseverant, determined, and capable becoming the next President of the United States. Many American also embrace his Republican views on minimal government, tax breaks for the rich, and a strong military.

Finally, the election is also close because of American history. Though slavery, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution,  the Klu Klux Klan, Racism, and Civil Rights movement have forced the United States to change their views on minorities, these events still fester. Some Americans remain prejudice and discriminate against this minority group or any other minority group. They have a difficult time believing that a ” black man” should be the President of the United States. And so, they will not vote for any leader who is black. In my view, if Obama were white, he’d have a larger lead in the election.

As a Canadian, I view the election from Canadian soil, through the lens of CNN and the New York Times. If I had a vote, I’d choose the incumbent President Obama. He has done a good job in foreign policy– ending the war in Iraq, fighting the Taliban with drones, and taking out Bin Laden, who was evil incarnate, and promising to downsize the military presence in Afghanistan. At home, though the economy stagnates and unemployment is far too high, Obama has also done a competent job. He brought back both the financial system and auto industry from the abyss.  He has taken historical steps to change “health care,” extending it to countless people who had no coverage. Now he is dealing with a persistently slow economic recovery, where there are more than 12 million Americans unemployed.  But this is not an easy task, especially with a global economy and American debt. Last week, he showed superb leadership in responding to the crisis caused by Hurricane Sandy.  As for Romney, he has no presidential experience, and so political pundits and undecided voters can only guess how Romney might lead America.

There is also a fundamental ideological differences between Obama and Romney. Obama is a “liberal” and Romney is “a conservative.” At home, Obama fights for the underclass, the middle-class, and those on the fringe. Unfortunately, he has been unable to deliver “on hope” and change.” But this doesn’t mean he won’t.  Romney, despite what you hear, supports the rich, big business, and a militant foreign policy. He believes that the corporation and the entrepreneur create jobs, not government. He believes in cutting taxes for the rich, and minimal government intervention to stimulate the economy and provide social welfare to the unemployed, or poor, or unlucky or aged or disabled. He has also made campaign promises that don’t make sense, sort of like playing the role of the “used car salesman.” He tells the voters what they desire to hear, even though when you look closer, the figures don’t add up.

On the other hand, President Obama has embraced the middle-class. He believes that government must engage in “social justice” to help the poor and unlucky and unemployed.  He does not believe in the Republican view of a “laissez faire” economic system, which relies of the private sector, such as the corporation, to provide health care. That is why Obama’s health created a new approach health care.

If Romney is elected as President, you can expect a government that is indifferent, just like Bush, to Canadian-American relations. He’ll be more concerned with inventing enemies of the state, dealing with the threats of terrorism, establishing close ties with the Super Powers of the world, threatening to bomb Iran than deal with Canadian issues and concerns.

If Obama is re-elected, you can expect more of the same. Relations with America are cordial and there are no major economic disputes. Moreover, while Obama has operated from a distance, his government has “done nothing” to make Canadian-American relations worse. He seems to live by the credo: “if you cannot make it better, don`t make it worse. And so, it is better to do nothing.”

I`d rather take my chances with someone I know rather than someone I don`t know.  If I had a vote, President Obama would be my choice. I hope President Obama is re-elected. He is good for Canada, good for the world, and he deserves to fulfill his promise of “hope” and “change.”

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About Dave Hood

Lover of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Professional photographer and writer. Without the arts, life would be rather mundane, like a walk down the same old path on a dull day.
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