The debates are over, the campaign season is coming to a close. The only remaining drama involves the swing states. Which way are they going to swing? That is a guessing game that I am content not to play this time around. However, for each of us who are still undecided, there remains one other last question of interest: who am I going to vote for? Obama, Romney, a third-party candidate, or nobody? I’m going to rule out the last two options because they both seem like cop-outs to me. There are really only two realistic alternatives for the election outcome, and I feel obligated to choose: Obama or Romney. Which is better?
For those who are disillusioned with the two party system and desire either a British-style parliamentary system or some more radical alternative, this is Sophie’s choice. There is no correct decision, both candidates are equally bad. But I am not so cynical about our representative constitutional democracy. I think that probably both Romney and Obama are qualified for the job, and I can’t really imagine any super radical changes for the better or worse with either of them in office, despite claims to the contrary from both sides of the political spectrum.
Part of me wants Obama to win a second-term. I’m curious to see whether it’s possible to determine the positive/negative effects of his administration’s economic policies. If he wins re-election and things get worse, and this economic worsening can be persuasively linked to his policies, that will give us more reason to give the Republicans a chance in 2016. On the other hand, if the economy gets better and that betterment can be persuasively linked to his policies, that will further legitimize economic theories that claim government interference can strengthen the economy. This debate about the size and role of government will be clearer for all of us if the time horizons are greater, and at this point, I think it’s premature to argue that Democrat economics are flawed based on the past four years alone. As a college student in my senior year, I am beginning to realize just how short four years really are.
Having said that, conservative ideas fascinate me also, and I am equally curious to see what would happen and what we could learn if Romney took office. Now, I hear admonishments from my liberal friends telling me that mere curiosity is not a good reason to support a Republican candidate. Ideas have consequences and real people will be affected, perhaps for the worse, if Romney takes office. Obamacare will be undone, and poor people will suffer. Roe v. Wade will be repealed, and women will be prevented from getting abortions. Gay rights will be stymied, marriage for all will be pushed even farther into the future. While Romney has more recently been portraying himself as a moderate candidate, he cannot be trusted to remain one. The Republican party is filled to the brim with extremists and Romney will pander to them just like he seems to pander to everyone. What a Romney administration would look like is literally anyone’s guess, whereas Obama will likely persist as the Obama we’ve known all throughout—a moderate beacon of moderate progress. Because I am not persuaded that Obama’s policies have been bad, or that Romney has anything exceptional to offer, I have been given no compelling reason not to vote for the incumbent this election. Perhaps in the next election, the Republicans will win my vote. Time will tell.