Let me state from the outset that I am not voting for Barack Obama. I have studied the two candidates’ positions on various important issues, and my vision for America’s future falls more in line with the vision of Mitt Romney. I believe that America’s economy will improve at a more rapid pace through implementation of the Republican ticket’s policies. I have more confidence that Mitt Romney’s foreign policy approach will improve America’s world stature and increase America’s security. Surely, then, as a Romney supporter, I must view Barack Obama with the utmost scorn and disdain, correct? As a Republican who supports “letting go of” (as Clint Eastwood would say) the sitting President, I must apply to Barack Obama all of the pejorative phrases we hear spewing from the mouths of political commentators, politicians, and, yes, even some Christians, correct? Obama hates America, he is liar, and he is a fraud.
Not so fast. Many of Barack Obama’s policies are, in my opinion, not in the best interest of the America yet to come, and some of his policies are incompatible with basic Christian principles that I believe are binding truth. However, I refuse to believe that Barack Obama is the malevolent, wicked man so many Republicans so desperately want him to be. I also refuse to believe that his first term was a comprehensive failure. The facts and record do not support either conclusion.
I was struck by a statement in Bill’s Clinton’s nominating speech on Wednesday night, as follows: “Though I often disagree with Republicans, I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate our President.” Do our words regarding Barack Obama convey love, or hate? Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Do our words edify, or do they corrupt? Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Do our words communicate kindness, or cruelty?
Words are important, and I believe that words should be used to build up and even to respectfully criticize, but not to tear down. I also believe that justice requires a fair and objective assessment of Barack Obama’s successes, as well as his failures. We have heard quite a bit and quite often about what is wrong with Barack Obama, so there is no need to rehash those observations. Many criticisms are valid and are worthy of exploration, but those can wait for another essay. What, then, can we say about the President that is positive?
First, Barack Obama is a family man. By all accounts, he and his wife of twenty-three years, Michelle, have a strong marriage, and their two daughters are the clearly loved. I find it hard to believe that Barack Obama is not genuinely concerned about the future of America and is not working in earnest to make America a better place to live. For the sake of his daughters’ well-being and security, this conclusion must be true. We may have differing philosophies about how to move America in the right direction, but I can find no evidence that Barack Obama’s motivations are inauthentic.
Second, Barack Obama has made some accomplishments during his first term that are worth noting and are worthy of commendation. Osama Bin Laden, the most notorious terrorist who ever lived and a genuine national security threat, was eliminated during Barack Obama’s presidency. The economy is not nearly strong enough, but there have been thirty straight months of private-sector job growth during Barack Obama’s first term. Barack Obama signed into law Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior tax credits to encourage businesses to hire unemployed veterans and veterans with service-connected disabilities; I believe this is a good law. Barack Obama extended emergency rescue loans to the American auto industry, which very likely saved GM and Chrysler from extinction. Barack Obama ended the war in Iraq and proposes ending the war in Afghanistan in 2014; wars’ ends are always welcome when accomplished on America’s terms.
Third, in the wake of the devastating April 27, 2011 tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Barack Obama made a personal visit to my city to view the destruction and to offer words of encouragement. Cynics will say that the President’s visit was nothing more than a publicity stunt for political gain, and to avoid comparisons to George W. Bush’s notorious false step in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I do not believe this was the case. I believe Barack Obama understood the symbolic importance of a visit from the nation’s leader, and also recognized the psychological benefit a visit from the President would give to a traumatized community.
In conclusion, I recognize that Barack Obama is a polarizing figure, and I understand the intense desire of many people to see him voted out of office – mainly because I share this desire. However, I do not share the attitudes of bitterness and spitefulness I have seen expressed by some. Support for one does not require hate for the other. It is not incongruous to criticize and to give due credit in the same breath.
The rhetoric on political matters in America has reached a point that I find most unsavory, largely fueled by the daily radio rants of people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. These people are very entertaining, but do not be sucked in by their shtick. Barack Obama is not a radical Muslim. He is not a socialist. He is not Constitutionally ineligible to be President. He does not hate America. Rather, Barack Obama is a liberal Democrat in a long line of liberal Democrats, in the mold of the Kennedys and Clintons. Do we need to vote Barack Obama out of office? Yes, and the sooner the better. America will be a better place for it. I will vote for Mitt Romney on November 6, but I will not do it out of hate for Barack Obama.