Recently I have heard comments about the presidential election along the following lines: "They're all crooks!" And "... the Republicans have been taken over by the Tea Party and the Democrats want too much government - I'm fed up with both parties - I'm not voting this year."
While a certain amount of frustration and cynicism about the political process is understandable, this kind of fatalistic attitude means that the person expressing such a view is abdicating responsibility as a citizen and leaving it to others who are more engaged in the political process to make the inevitable voting decision about who will occupy the White House in January 2013.
Neither of the two major-party candidates is of messianic quality, but neither one, I believe, is a crook or less honest than the average American. There is a real choice between these two candidates and the party platforms that they stand on. Romney wants to put more money into the hands of the wealthy (those making over $250,000 per year), the corporations, and investors and reduce regulations on banks. These are policies that were tried for eight years and led us into the problems that surfaced in 2008 and that we are still having to deal with.
Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as vice-presidential nominee reinforces this favoritism of the rich as these Republican candidates try to convince us of the false notion that putting money into the hands of the rich is somehow magically going to improve our economy and employment.
President Obama's policies, on the other hand, are designed to grow the economy from the bottom up and to strengthen the middle class. He supports middle class tax cuts and the development of job opportunities for middle-income families.
In order to become more productive, our country needs to strengthen its infrastructure and provide educational opportunities in the technical fields where well-paying jobs are available. For example, think of the number of jobs that would be created by rebuilding our decaying highway system, repairing our deteriorating bridges, and strengthening our energy-efficient railroad system (using American steel, of course).
We have a shortage of railway freight cars in this country to ship our exportable commodities; surely it is in the national interest to invest in more American-made vehicles of this type. Also consider the jobs that can be filled by qualified Americans if we invest in closing the skills gap between jobs available in advanced manufacturing and skills needed to perform those jobs.
The choice in the 2012 presidential election is a clear one, and the reasons for civic engagement could not be more compelling.