This is not for those of us who have already decided whom to vote for on November 6. If you believe that President Obama is a illegal immigrant Socialist whose sole agenda is the destruction of our entire way of life, go back to mainlining Fox News. If you believe that Romney is an elitist, flip-flopper ready to turn our country over to Tea Party wing nuts, The Rachael Maddow Show is calling you.
This is for the rest of you who are still mulling over your choice in the most divisive election of our lifetime.
I could try to persuade you with fact, but, frankly, neither side has covered themselves with glory in this area. Regardless of the outcome of this election, the major loser will be our society's concept of "truth". When both political machines twist, distort and outright ignore the truth as much as they have this year, we are all the lesser for it.
I could try to persuade you with their stands on the issues, but, frankly, there are so many that if you haven't made up your mind based on the issues already, nothing will change your mind now.
I could try to persuade you on their records, but, frankly, both men can claim some victories and some defeats. Both men have notable achievements, and both have suffered humbling defeats.
I could try to persuade you with the performances in the debates, but, other than the President's somnolent performance in the first one, both sides have claimed victory.
Then there's the economy. One thing (perhaps the only thing) both candidates agree on is that this race will probably come down to the economy. Has Obama done enough to improve the economy to deserve another term? How much of the economy is Obama's fault, and how much is Bush's fault? They'll be writing books trying to answer that question for years. Does Obama deserve credit for preventing a full blown financial collapse, or take the blame for what Romney calls the "slowest recovery" (still a recovery, though, right?) in history? Can Romney's return to "trickle down economics" succeed where Obama's "trickle down government" has struggled? I firmly believe that it won't, but there's really no way to know what will happen with either strategy.
So, how will you decide? I think it comes down to one thing.
Trust. Who do you trust with this job? Who will make the difficult decisions based on what he believes is right, and not on what he believes will be most popular?
So, who do you trust? Which candidate has the most consistent message? Which candidate has pandered less to the extremes of his party? Which man acknowledges his flaws and shortcomings rather than deny and obfuscate them? I think that answer is clear - President Barack Obama.
He's been far from perfect - I'll be the first to admit that. He did not deliver on all the promises he made on during the 2008 election, but what President ever has? However, three of his campaign promises (major ones at that) have been fulfilled.
He promised health care reform, as controversial as it is, and got it done.
He promised to get us out of Iraq, and he did.
He promised to refocus our military might on those who were really responsible for 9/11, and Osama Bin Laden sleeps with the fishes.
How much more he would have accomplished with a less intransigent Congress, we'll never know. He stands by this record, and even his Republican opponents cannot dispute these achievements.
What about his opponent?
Is he an elitest who doesn't care about the 47%? Makes no difference.
Is he a modern day Robber Baron looking to line the pockets of his big business friends? Doesn't matter.
Does his foreign policy amount to "just like Obama's, but better." Don't care.
Being President is all about making the difficult decisions with the understanding that the buck stops with you. President Obama knew that his decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan would be controversial and potentially cost American lives, but he did it because he believed it was the right thing to do.
He knew he would expend most of his political capital by pushing through health care reform, but he did it because he believed it was the right thing to do.
Rudyard Kipling wrote, "If you can...talk with crowds and keep your virtue...yours is the Earth...and all that's in it..." President Obama has shown he can do this. Mitt Romney has not. He pandered to the extreme factions of his party in order to win the nomination and has backtracked on those statements to win the votes of moderates in the general election. Is he pro-life or pro-choice? Is he for the scheduled withdrawal in Afghanistan or against it? If he stands for something before the election, like no tax hikes for the middle class, will he honor his commitment after the election? Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?
Yes, the economy is still stifling the middle class, and we still face the specter of terrorism abroad. Both men have claimed they have a plan for each. At some point in the next four years, a decision or decisions will be have to be made which will have significant implications for the country. Which candidate has the backbone to eschew what's politically expedient and make the difficult choice based on firm convictions?
Whether you agree with his decisions or not, you know what President Obama stands for. If you disagree, then so be it, but at least you know where he stands.
You can't make the same statement about Mitt Romney.