I am not a partisan voter. My voting record clearly shows that. Here is my voting record since 1968:
Humphrey (D) McGovern (D) Carter (D) Reagan (R) Reagan (R) Bush (41) (R) Clinton (D) Clinton (D) Gore (D) Bush (43) (R) McCain (R)
I choose candidates based on who I think will be do the best job for the country, for Israel, and for the Jewish people. I do not vote by party.
Although I have finally made my decision – for the first time I am not as sure as I usually am about which candidate will actually be the better President.
The last debate added nothing toward that end. The two candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney remain the same in my eyes. Their views were not made clearer at all on any of the issues that are important to the American people nor to me as a Jew.
I recently wrote that their views on Israel though not identical are both positive – and not all that dissimilar. I also said that for the first time my decision would not be based on that issue. Instead -“It’s (still) the economy, Stupid!” Of course the economy matters to Jews just as much as it does to everyone else. But it is definitely not a Jewish issue.
I do not see any break away solutions by either candidate. The President’s policies have thus far not done the job. Unemployment is still high – as are gas prices. His stimulus polices haven’t really helped all that much. The deficit is soaring . He is also over focusing on environmental issues – by over regulating businesses and preventing more opportunities to become energy independent. That too stifles economic growth. And adds to the deficit
His counter to that is that a divided congress is holding him back from doing more. And that his energy policies are the most productive in history. But that doesn’t explain why he didn’t do more to fix the economy during the first 2 years of his administration when he had a bullet proof congress. Instead he focused on a passing a controversial health care bill that contributes to the exploding deficit.
Romney on the other hand wants to implement a supply side economic policy that lowers taxes for everyone. He says that small businessmen many of whom file individual tax returns would be hurt by the higher taxes the Obama administration wants to impose on them and that would dis-incentivize them from investing the capital they need to grow their businesses and hire new people.
The President countered that Romney’s economic policy does not add up and that it would either explode the deficit even further, or that he would have to cut popular deductions like mortgage interest to make up for the loss.
Romney says that he would go full bore into developing all sources of energy including off shore drilling and do things like extending the Canadian pipeline (which the President rejected).
Obama also claims that he has actually increased oil production under his administration.
Romney would increase the military budget to restore it to the levels that existed before the Obama military budget cuts.
Obama says that the military doesn’t need to be as large and expensive as is used to be – even according the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Increasing the military budget will only grow the deficit.
How the President will grow the economy is still a mystery to me. Platitudes like “the rich must pay their fair share” are meaningless hyperbole designed to appeal to class envy in my view.
He has had four years to fix the economy and he hasn’t done it yet. He still blames Bush saying he inherited this mess from him – and that it was much worse than anyone thought. He touts the fact that in spite of that – the economy has still improved. Though admittedly only slightly. He now claims he needs more time and a willing congress.
Romney says Obama’s polices have failed and it’s time for someone else with a different approach to try. He claims his business experience will help him achieve more private sector jobs and a return to a healthy economy.
I don’t really see either side having the decisive winning argument here. But I do believe that supply side economics works. That’s what Reagan did. He took us from a period of a stagnant economy and the highest inflation in history (coining the term stagflation) to a period of great prosperity where unprecedented numbers of jobs were created.
On this issue I therefore lean towards Romney. Obama had his chance and failed to keep his promises. Excuses about why he didn’t don’t do it for me.
The fact is, however, that my primary concern is still the welfare of Israel and the Jewish people. So despite my original disclaimer about there being little difference between the two I am re-examining the issue.
For Obama, there is a very big plus side. He has created the closest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history. And he has paid for Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense system that protects it from rocket attacks by Israel’s border enemies (Hamas and Hezbollah).
This kind of cooperation is unprecedented and worthy of great appreciation. Last night the President said that it was his visit to Israel as a candidate in 2008 that motivated him to do that. He saw the effects of a Rocket attack and thought, “What if it were his children living in these border areas?” Frankly I don’t see how Romney or anyone else can top that.
On the other hand, I don’t think Romney would do anything to undermine what exists now. So this part of the equation is a wash. That leaves some very significant intangibles to be considered.
The big criticism of the President on that level is that he has shown little if any warmth towards the Jewish State. He has instead shown complete antipathy towards its Prime Minister. He has not visited Israel once since his candidacy. And purposely skipped Israel on his early Middle East “apology” tour.
(Lest anyone think it was not an apology tour, it is pretty clear from his statements that he was apologizing for his predecessor attitudes towards rest of the world – and more specifically the Arab world. He may not have used the word “apology”. But he clearly spoke in apologetic terms.)
He also tends to bias his criticisms toward Israel with respect to the “peace process” – blaming settlements as the primary obstacle to peace. Not that it isn’t an issue. But he seems to point only to that never criticizing in the slightest Palestinian refusal to negotiate unless their pre-conditions are met.
Then there is also that little blurb overheard when speaking to Putin about having more flexibility with respect to foreign policy issues after the election. When it comes to pressuring Israel that too is troubling.
The President seems to be so allergic to Prime Minister Netanyahu that he refused to meet with him on his recent visit to the UN – although he did manage to find time to meet with Egyptian President Morsi.
My impression of Romney is that none of this would have taken place. Although the policies of both men may be the same, I think it matters how the world perceives America’s relationship with Israel. Romney has known Netanyahu since his MIT days and is an admirer. With elections in Israel set to give Netanyahu his biggest mandate ever, I think it is important to show the world that Israel and the US not only have a military and intelligence bond – but that they have a real friendship. Obama has not done this. I think Romney will.
Then there is the matter of Iran and whether Israel and the US are on the same page on this issue. I think both candidates have shown their resolve – along with Israel – to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. The only real difference is that Romney seems to be more willing to say that US and Israeli policy are identical.
Based on the aforementioned examination of the two candidates, I am endorsing Romney for President. His economic polices seem more in line with my understanding of what will work. Romney’s clearly warmer approach to Israel and other foreign policy issues is also more appealing to me. That said I am absolutely convinced that if the President is re-elected, Israel will not suffer.
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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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