- - Tuesday, November 6, 2012

If the polls are to be believed, this year’s presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be one of the closest in American history. Whether America’s political and economic future will be in good hands remains to be seen, however.

When Mr. Obama took office, he inherited a struggling economy and proceeded to tank it in short order. From costly government bailout plans to horrendous monthly job and unemployment numbers, the heartbeat of U.S. financial fortunes can barely be heard above a whisper. The Obama White House claimed its economic strategy was heading in the right direction, even though the political campaign glossed over its economic record (for obvious reasons). Fortunately, people could see through this grand illusion and realize their country was worse off financially than ever before.

With respect to foreign policy, Mr. Obama has been a complete failure as president. He favored a policy of building relations with tin-pot dictators and totalitarian regimes. He bowed to communist leaders and other tyrants. He opposed terrorism, but supported a softer, gentler approach in dealing with the enemies of democracy, liberty and freedom. While Mr. Obama repeatedly claimed to be a friend of Israel, his words and actions often prove otherwise.

Much to the chagrin of his left-wing political support base, Mr. Obama doesn’t (and never did) walk on water. Then again, neither does Mr. Romney. While the latter’s plan to build a stronger economy and regain confidence seems to be America’s best hope for change, not everyone agrees. Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney are neck-and-neck in popular support — and the Electoral College is going down to the wire.

If that’s the case, what can we expect from a second Obama term — or a first Romney term?

A small clue can be found during the first presidential debate. Mr. Romney said, “I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just can’t afford four more years like the last four years.” This is a perfect summary of why some Americans feared Mr. Obama’s tax-and-spend policies as well as his decision to coddle the enemies of democracy. While the president’s policies have been well-meaning in theory, they’ve been positively destructive in practice. With the economy falling further into the abyss, and international opinion of the United States near an all-time low, something has to give.

Although Mr. Romney’s moderate brand of conservatism has at times disappointed many right-leaning political observers, it’s a far better option than Mr. Obama’s bitter-tasting brand of liberalism. The former contains a more realistic vision of what citizens and businesses want and desire. Romney-style conservatism would also be more in line with the way Americans think about their country — and the world around them.

Hence, a Romney White House would re-establish the twin pillars of fiscal conservatism and responsible government. For example, lower taxes for individuals and corporations need to be regularly promoted. More individual rights and freedoms need to be supported. Less government interference needs to be projected. Bureaucratic waste and irresponsible public spending measures need to be dramatically reduced. The war on terrorism needs to be constantly defended. Peace and prosperity throughout the world needs to be championed.

As for Mr. Obama, it would be more of the same. For example, he would lead a White House that believes it can just keep spending its way out of debt. It would be a White House that feels it can keep dredging up the memory of a former president (George W. Bush) to explain away the financial mess they’ve created. Mr. Obama would run a White House that proposes costly public spending measures, and consistently rejects the need for a greater role for the private sector. His White House would talk tough about safety and security, but wouldn’t get involved in international matters unless conditions were specifically to his liking.

In his 1981 inaugural address, then-President Ronald Reagan famously said, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” While few Americans expect their sitting president to be the equivalent of the next Reagan, most expect him to revive mainstream politics, ideas and values favored by the Gipper. Getting government out of the daily lives of citizens would be a great start in the right direction.

Based on what we’ve seen during this presidential campaign, there’s only one candidate who favors aspects of this free-market-oriented strategy. With luck, he’ll be sitting in the Oval Office next year, taking care of the nation’s business.

Michael Taube is a former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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