Four years ago, voters elected Barack Obama president of the United States.
He defeated Sen. John McCain handily in that election, which was driven by many emotions. The prospect of electing the first African-American president was a very important step for this nation. Americans were terrified by the free fall in the stock market, failing banks and the sight of such industrial giants as General Motors and Chrysler teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
Then-Sen. Obama's theme of “Hope and Change” was the right message at the right time. His ability to communicate that message excited particularly younger Americans, who saw the potential for taking the country in a new direction.
While “Hope and Change” was an exciting message at a very emotional time, it was, like so much else, better as a concept than in execution.
Look at the economic record:
>> When the president was sworn in, unemployment stood at 7.8 percent. Joblessness rose above 8 percent the next month, and it still hasn't dropped back below the January 2009 level.
>> The national debt on Inauguration Day 2009 was $10.6 trillion. Today, it tops $16.1 trillion.
>> The federal government's annual budget deficit has topped $1 trillion in each year of the president's term.
>> When the president took office, median household income was $54,983. This past June, it was down to $50,964.
>> The number of Americans on food stamps in January 2009 stood at 31.9 million. In June, it was up to 46.6 million.
>> The poverty rate in 2008 was 12.5 percent. By 2011, it had risen to 15.1 percent.
Guantánamo Bay remains open and active, and the administration has endured repeated gaffes, notably those made by Vice President Joe Biden, as well as the suggestion by Attorney General Eric Holder that terrorists be tried in downtown New York City.
Many of these failures result from the most dramatic broken promise of all — that the president would govern in a way that would bring both sides of the partisan aisle together. “What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose — our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore,” he said in 2008.
That hasn't happened. Congress is as divided as it has ever been. The health care plan included a birth control feature that was offensive to many. The regulations on financial institutions are so restrictive that they have slowed economic activity and cost banks billions in dealing with regulators.
Even President Obama admits he has fallen short of restoring that sense of common purpose. “The fact that we haven't been able to change the tone in Washington is disappointing,” he said.
These failings point to a president who serves as an inspirational motivator of his party, but who lacks the management skills necessary to run the government. It can be said in many ways, but he has talked a far better game than he has delivered. He hasn't earned another term.
The presidential election of 2012 should be and will be far less emotional than that of 2008. Americans need to make an informed decision — not on which candidate they feel good about, or who they would rather have dinner with — but about the candidate who will provide the kind of vision, leadership and management skills needed to run the government.
Americans would be well-served to cast their votes for Mitt Romney.
Romney brings the experience of business, having served as the CEO of Bain Capital. He brings the experience of government, having served as a Republican governor of Massachusetts, where Democrats dominated the legislature. “I figured out from day one I had to get along, and I had to work across the aisle to get anything done,” he says.
A Romney presidency would bring the fiscal discipline necessary to attack the deficit and lead the economy out of the slowest recovery in the nation's history. He would create a common-sense tax and regulatory environment that incorporates the stability and predictability needed to spark new investment, create jobs and get the economy moving.
Democrats and the Obama campaign have repeatedly attempted to demonize Romney as an uncaring captain of industry, gleefully firing workers a la Ebenezer Scrooge. Nothing could be further from the truth. Romney built one of America's largest capital engines, Bain Capital, and, yes, made the difficult decisions that every CEO has to make at different times in his or her career.
And voters should not buy into the class warfare idea being advanced by the Obama campaign. Mitt Romney is wealthy. He got that way by working hard, taking economic risks and putting himself in a position to benefit from those risks. That doesn't make him evil; it makes him smart. He has paid all the taxes as required by the Internal Revenue Service. He doesn't make the rules, he just plays by them.
America needs a president who is smart and experienced enough to turn this economy around. A president who will lower unemployment, cut budget deficits, reduce the national debt, set appropriate tax rates to grow the economy for all Americans. A president who can instill confidence and lead the country from a weak recovery to a robust economic future.
It's a job for Mitt Romney.