Success of any U.S. Administration is usually measured by their economic success, and after four years Obama is in desperate need of a win. Unemployment has exceeded 8% for 43 consecutive months, peaking during Obama’s term; real economic growth less than half the historical average for post-recession recovery periods, at 2.2%; and increased public spending providing no indications of getting the budget deficit under control. You would have thought Republican candidate should be in for an easy win. Yes, Mitt Romney is still regarded as the inferior option to Obama.
I’ll be the first to admit that the GOP hasn’t chosen a great candidate. Even if elected, he won’t be the next Abraham Lincoln, but it’s unlikely that he will be remembered as one of the worst Presidents either. Behind the inelegant, inarticulate and bumbling campaign, Romney’s peddling a more viable (and more American) economic plan than that currently being implemented by Obama.
If Obama’s policies continue to be followed, within a decade the U.S. national debt is set to increase by $11 trillion, government spending by $1.1 trillion (coincidentally, the same number of dollars by which military spending is due to be cut), and a tax rate hike worth $1.8 trillion dollars. It’s the budgetary policy of the Republican’s, and average taxpaying Americans’, worst nightmares. Obama’s popularity is waning. Dislike of his hand being quite so deep in his citizens’ pockets is escalating. There’s even an anti-Obama group, so desperate to distinguish themselves from the newly-angered masses, that they created the Facebook page “I hated Obama before it was cool!”
Although it’s possible the page was set up by a bored Romney fan with too much time on their hands, the new-fangled disfavour of ‘Obamanomics’ means Romney’s suggested policies look increasingly palatable in comparison. The Mitt Romney/ Paul Ryan economic plan would abandon the Keynesian approach of an economic stimulus to kick-start the job market, rather opting for corporate tax cuts. It would aim to decrease income tax, reducing the burden on individuals; and would trim down public spending enough for a controlled, gradual, reduction in public spending until the budget is balanced. His opponents assert that public spending cuts, and curbing Obama’s intense wealth redistribution programme is selfish and un-utilitarian, but Romney sees the situation as quite the opposite “Passing on ever increasing debt to our children is not just bad policy, it is morally wrong”. It’s not a particularly outlandish statement, and fairly hard to refute.
Similar to his feelings on the morality of debt, none of his economic proposals are particularly radical, but therein lies his popularity problem with the American voters. Democrats don’t like him because he’s a Republican, Republicans don’t like him because he’s a moderate. His flaccid centrism is pretty incorrigible to the large proportion of the Republican Party, who still worship at the altar of Ronald Regan (while conveniently forgetting his penchant for public spending). Though the 2008 Republican candidate, John McCain, was also fairly moderate, he had the GOP-friendly redemption of being a war hero, seeming able to placate their need for radical policy.
Though Michael Medved, of the Wall Street Journal’s argument that “Most political battles are won by seizing the center. Anyone who believes otherwise, ignores the electoral experience of the last 50 years…”, is widely accepted, Romney seems to be an exception. He is slowly garnering a reputation for being unilaterally disliked, by both the Obamaites on the left, and the Tea Party-ers on the right. However, considering many of the candidates in competition with Romney for the GOP nomination’s rather eccentric worldviews, voters, critics and commentators alike should give him more credit for his relative grasp on reality.
Yet, all in all, unappealing as Barack Obama currently seems, there’s also plenty to dislike about Mitt Romney. Electors’ decision boils down to a sacrifice; between having a more sustainable economic strategy, but regressive and illiberal social policies from Romney and Ryan, or vice versa from the Obama camp. Voters can either kick the government out of the bedroom, or the boardroom. So come election day, the U.S will have to pick it’s poison…and weather the next four years.