I believe that one's vote should be based on competence and moral principles like concern for the well-being and flourishing of our nation's citizens. I think these concerns trump party, personal charisma, and even political ideology. I believe we have a moral responsibility to vote for the person whose policies are most likely to improve the lives of most Americans, especially the poor.
In the context of the coming election I think the candidate most likely to do that is Mr. Romney.
Consider several of the issues confronting our nation and their moral implications:
The National Debt. The debt rose about $5 trillion under 8 years of George Bush. It rose about the same amount in a little over 3 years under Barack Obama. It now stands at about $15.5 trillion. This is more money than our entire economy produces in a year.
If Mr. Obama wins re-election and his budget projections prove accurate, the National Debt will top $20 trillion in 2016, the final year of his second term. That would mean the Debt would have increased by 87 percent, or $9.34 trillion, during his two terms.
The last federal budget sent to Congress by Mr. Obama projects that the National Debt will continue to rise to $25.9 trillion in 2022.
There's simply no way to address such a massive burden without either inflating the currency, raising taxes to confiscatory levels, or defaulting. Any of these options would have devastating consequences, especially for the poor and middle class, and none of them would alleviate the debt problem anyway.
It's manifestly immoral to place this millstone around the necks of our children and grandchildren, but that's precisely what Mr. Obama's profligacy does.
The Economy. Mr. Obama has taken an economy that was bad and made it awful. What's equally as bad is that he has offered no plan to make it better. Mr. Romney's plan may work or may not, but at least he has a plan.
The basic problem we face is joblessness. This is especially devastating for the poor and the young. The unemployment rate is approximately 13% for blacks, 10% for Hispanics, and 23% for young people.
There are several things that Mr. Obama could, but won't, do to fix the problem. Mr. Romney says he will. Mr. Obama spent almost a trillion dollars on a stimulus program to create jobs but partly because so much of the stimulus went to things like welfare programs, unions, and green energy industries that create few or no jobs even if they don't go bankrupt, the real unemployment rate is higher today than it was when he took office.
In order to reduce the jobless rate Mr. Romney proposes to do the following:
1) Reduce corporate income tax rate. At 39% it's the highest in the world and is a powerful incentive for corporations to relocate overseas.
2) Reduce the regulatory burden on businesses which forces them to either layoff workers or put off hiring new workers.
3) Develop our domestic energy resources. By opening up federal lands and offshore sites we would immediately create jobs, stimulate the economy, increase revenue to the treasury, and move toward energy independence from the Middle East.
Under President Clinton permits to drill on federal lands rose 58%, under President Bush they rose 116%, under President Obama they declined 36%.
High fuel prices result in higher costs of everything we buy and crushes those living in or on the edge of poverty. Mr. Obama said in 2008 that he actually wants high gas prices, presumably because it would force consumers to buy less fossil fuel and reduce our carbon emissions. What it does, though, is force more people into poverty.
4) Repeal Obamacare. Obamacare is predicted by many experts to be a disaster for many of the nation's poor because it'll put about 17 million more of them into the medicaid system. The problem with this is that reimbursement for medicaid is so low that many physicians won't take medicaid patients or won't do more for them than the minimum.
Medicare recipients under Obamacare will have the same problem. By cutting $716 billion from the amount reimbursed to doctors it'll make taking on medicare patients unprofitable for 40% of all medicare providers.
Many businesses anticipate much higher costs once Obamacare kicks in which is inhibiting hiring.
The Erosion of Freedom. Mr. Obama wants to make government the source of all our benefits, but the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. Government and individual freedom are at opposite ends of a seesaw. As the size and scope of government rises personal freedom falls.
A government that can tell you today that you have to buy a particular product, like insurance, or tells you today how much soda you can drink, will tell you tomorrow what surgical procedures you can have, and will tell you the next day that you cannot voice an opinion on matters like gay marriage or Islamic terrorism or even abortion if that opinion is deemed offensive or hateful by anyone.
If you think this sounds like a stretch consider that pastors have been arrested in Europe for professing a traditionally biblical view of homosexuality. Where Europe is today is where we will be tomorrow.
In fact, the man in California who exercised his freedom of speech by making the anti-Muslim video that the administration blamed for the murder of our ambassador and three others in Benghazi, Libya was arrested on a trivial pretext and is still in jail today.
Foreign Policy. Rosa Brooks, a former advisor in the Obama State Department, concludes a scathing indictment of the Obama foreign policy with this:
In foreign policy as in life, stuff happens -- including bad stuff no one could have predicted. Nonetheless, to a significant extent, President Obama is the author of his own lackluster foreign policy. He was a visionary candidate, but as president, he has presided over an exceptionally dysfunctional and un-visionary national security architecture -- one that appears to drift from crisis to crisis, with little ability to look beyond the next few weeks. His national security staff is squabbling and demoralized, and though senior White House officials are good at making policy announcements, mechanisms to actually implement policies are sadly inadequate.An incoherent foreign policy and weakened military encourages terrorists and tyrants to greater bloodletting. President Obama was willing to kill hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Libyans in order to prevent Qaddafi from killing even more of his own people. Bashar Assad is killing tens of thousands of Syrians, but we stay out of the fray. What principle governs these decisions? Are they completely ad hoc?
Former Obama National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones recently claimed that our foreign policy in the Middle East and Iran is back to where we started four years ago.
A strong military is the best deterrent to war, but Mr. Obama has promised to pare our navy back to WWI levels. This will deeply diminish our ability to influence world events and, coupled with our economic weakness, will reduce us to little more than a regional power.
We could add to these reasons for doubting the wisdom of voting to reelect Mr. Obama his administration's inexplicable conduct in the Fast and Furious debacle in which for putative reasons that make no sense, the administration facilitated the smuggling of weapons to Mexican drug cartels which then used them to murder over two thousand Mexican citizens and several Americans.
The administration continues to block congressional efforts to get to the bottom of the operation and refuses to offer a plausible explanation for it.
We could also point out that despite holding complete control of the government for the first two years of his presidency Mr. Obama did nothing to solve our illegal immigration problem or to clarify the status of undocumented immigrants.
His administration squandered billions of dollars of taxpayers' money on green energy boondoggles run, in many cases, by big donors to his campaign.
His administration also seems to have cooperated in stripping thousands of non-union retirees of their pensions as part of the massive bailout to his union supporters in the GM/Chrysler auto rescue and now refuses to release documents that would clarify the government's role in this scandal.
His administration refuses to tell us why four Americans were killed in an attack on our embassy in Libya when, despite repeated calls for help, they were denied any military support.
Mr. Obama has cynically accused Republicans of waging a "War on Women" when, in fact, his own White House, according to a book by Ron Susskind, would have been ripe for a lawsuit if it were a private business because the prevailing environment was so hostile to women.
Indeed, former economic advisor Cynthia Roemer said that she "felt like a piece of meat" in this White House.
We could also point out that however one feels about abortion, most people are strongly opposed to infanticide and should be deeply troubled that as an Illinois state senator Mr. Obama twice voted against a bill that would require that babies born alive after botched abortions not be allowed to die.
Finally, there is the matter of personal integrity. As explained here, Mr. Obama is not above deliberately misrepresenting facts to gain political advantage.
Indeed, for two weeks after the Benghazi assault his administration deliberately misled the American people as to the nature of the attack, presumably to hide from the voters the failure of his foreign policy.
Perhaps Mr. Romney would turn out to be no better, but he could scarcely be worse. If moral considerations are the primary determinant in how one casts one's vote it's hard for me to see how a vote for the incumbent could be justified.