If only all voters paused, before they arrived at a polling place, to consider not just the qualities of the individuals for whom they intend to vote, but also the impact of the outcome on their nation and their state, Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders would smile a contented smile. For the democracy they designed relied on good sense and good will as its oxygen and its energy.
The common good really should be the ideal of every voter, no matter party affiliation or ideological attachments. An election isnt as simple as voting to lower ones own taxes or install in national or state law ones personal beliefs. The country and the state are bigger than money or ideology. Elections are not just about governments designed to protect and provide. They are about people, the people we choose as leaders to guide the rest of us and at the same time to answer to us.
Contrary to what many a cynic has said through many an election, who those people are can make a difference.
The N&Os editorial page has endorsed President Obama for re-election. That is based on the ways in which he has confronted the nations challenges for the past four years, and also on what we believe will be the consequences of his winning another term contrasted with the consequences of electing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee.
Romney is a competent leader. Though his campaign has veered into extremes, he is a sensible person. But if he is elected president, the impact of change will be felt, and that impact would be worrisome for some Americans who already have more than their share of worries.
Romney has pledged, for example, to repeal Obamas health care reform. That would hurt families with sick children who have been able to obtain coverage under reform. It would allow people to obtain coverage despite so-called pre-existing conditions that now cause insurers to shun them. It would leave millions of people uninsured who could get insurance by 2014, when reform goes full throttle.
There would be tax breaks for the wealthy and less regulation on Wall Street. Those things have contributed to the nations problems with debt and deficits, and were factors in the Great Recession.
The governor does indeed have business experience, focused on creating wealth for investors. But there is a strong difference between that kind of experience and the creation of jobs.
Doubtless Romney believes what he says, although its not hard to find instances where his positions have changed several times in recent years, even in recent months.
The presidents positions may not please all, but they have been consistent. Consequences of his re-election? Certainly not gilded streets and mansions for all. And yes, people have a right to question whether Obamas economy, which certainly has improved over the one he inherited, has grown fast enough.
But the president will stick with health care reform, which will not boost the deficit and which will mean tens of millions of additional people will be insured. He will maintain investments in public education from the federal government. He will stand by Medicare and Social Security as programs deserving of preservation, even if they need to be modified to ensure their survival. He will advocate tax policies that are sensitive to the burdens of ordinary working Americans.
He will continue a foreign policy that has put the country on sound footing with allies and that has gained the respect of foes while dialing back costly wars. And the president will continue to guide economic recovery (which has been slow but is in progress) with the need to monitor and responsibly regulate the financial markets that went so out of control.
This president came into office as the nation proceeded to a near-Depression, and even as he marks considerable progress on the financial front, he continues to recognize that too many Americans who desperately want jobs cant find them.
He proposed a jobs plan that Congress rejected, but he has kept the faith with those people. They may be sure that he will keep trying, and will not leave them behind in his thoughts or actions.