A few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have made this prediction, but now I’m confident Mitt Romney will be the next president of the United States. My conviction has as much to do with my faith in the American people as it does my belief in Gov. Romney.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Gov. Romney is exactly what we need to get the economy out of the mess it’s in and will make a very good president. But what I’m really counting on Election Day is the common sense of Americans to recognize they made a bad bargain in 2008.
Barack Obama promised hope and change in 2008. Now he wants us to look forward in 2012, which is just another way of saying “don’t look back on what I’ve accomplished — or failed to — in my first term.”
The two big accomplishments the president can point to over the last four years are a wholesale revision of the U.S. health system and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The first is highly unpopular with the American people, for good reason. It will degrade the overall quality of health care and make it more expensive for those who currently have coverage.
And his attempts to take credit for the second accomplishment have been more than a bit unseemly. From his first announcement of bin Laden’s killing to his use of the issue on the campaign trail, he’s always given himself the lion’s share of the credit instead of the brave Navy SEALs who risked their lives on the ground.
He mentioned himself and his direct involvement five times in 11 lines of his address announcing the killing before he got to a single mention of the SEALs’ action.
And it’s been more of the same self-serving rhetoric on campaign stops.
But it’s what President Obama hasn’t accomplished in the last four years that will make the difference today. Despite nearly a trillion dollar federal stimulus package, he’s done nothing to bring back jobs to the U.S. economy.
With at least 1 in 12 workers unemployed — and a greater proportion if you count those who have had to accept part-time jobs at much lower pay — virtually every voter is either personally affected or knows someone who is.
They’ve given this president almost four years to fix it, and he hasn’t.
It’s true the president doesn’t control the U.S. economy. But any administration and Congress can play a significant role in either depressing economic growth or encouraging it. And the president has done the first, not the latter.
He’s made businesses wary of hiring new workers by imposing a costly new healthcare program on employers. He’s increased red tape and threatened to raise taxes on small businesses that several analysts say will result in a loss of about 700,000 jobs.
And he’s denigrated the role of individuals in building their own businesses and promised to punish the most successful among them.
Most importantly, the president has run a campaign devoid of ideas except clever ways to attack his opponent. His operatives — official and otherwise — have consistently demonized Mitt Romney as heartless, greedy and mean. It’s wrong when fringe conservatives continue to raise questions about President Obama’s birthplace — but it’s even worse when Democratic lawmakers and pro-Obama ads accuse Gov. Romney of causing a woman’s death and cheating on his taxes.
As someone who lives in one battleground state and spends significant time in another, I’ve watched the campaign ad blitz for months.
And while both campaigns have spent most of their time and money on negative ads, there’s a marked difference in the substance: The Romney ads have attacked the president’s record; the Obama ads have attacked the governor’s character — even his basic humanity.
But once most voters got their first real look at Gov. Romney, the Obama message simply didn’t jibe with what they saw and heard, which is why the polls started trending toward Romney. The president’s record, however, remains as abysmal today as it has over his entire term.
It may have taken voters awhile to figure this out — they like the president personally and wanted to give him a chance to prove he deserved re-election.
But he hasn’t given a single, convincing reason why he should be, which is why I believe Americans will vote for genuine change today.
LINDA CHAVEZ’S column is distributed by Creators Syndicate Inc.