Competence in Presidential Politics

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

9/7/2012 12:01:00 AM - Jackie Gingrich Cushman

The question this fall is clear: Do we want a president who cares for others but is not competent or a president who might care, if he could just show it, but has proved his competence?

President Barack Obama has had his chance. He recently gave himself the grade of incomplete. His goal: to get an extension.

All Americans should ask themselves: Does he deserve another term?

Let's review the facts:

Obama, 42 months into his term, has overseen a net loss of 300,000 jobs. He has yet to pass a balanced budget; our debt has increased 51 percent -- from $10.6 trillion to more than $16 trillion. U.S. gross domestic product annual growth is 1.7 percent. Unemployment exceeds 8 percent. More than 17 percent of those who want to work full time are either not working at all or are working part time.

How does this compare?

When President Ronald Reagan was 42 months into his first term, 3.8 million new net jobs had been created.

Four years after the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 1994, running on the Contract With America, GDP growth was 4 percent; unemployment was 4.2 percent; 11 million new jobs had been created; and the budget was balanced.

Americans have done it before; we can do it again.

Last week, Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, spoke at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. This week, first lady Michelle Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Both ladies shared a similar theme: what their husband is really like as a person. Both had the same goal: to persuade voters that their husband is the right choice to be the next president of the United States.

"We learned about dignity and decency," said Michelle Obama, "that how hard you work matters more than how much you make ... that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself."

"So when it comes to rebuilding our economy," she continued, "Barack is thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother."

She continued, "Those stories -- our collection of struggles and hopes and dreams -- I see how that's what drives Barack Obama every single day."

Ann Romney talked about struggling Americans. "I've been all across this country for the past year and a half and heard these stories of how hard it is to get ahead now," she said. "I've heard your voices: 'I'm running in place,' 'We just can't get ahead,'" she said. "I'm not sure if men really understand this, but I don't think there's a woman in America who really expects her life to be easy. In our own ways, we all know better!"

"We're too smart to know there aren't easy answers," she continued. "But we're not dumb enough to accept that there aren't better answers."

Both ladies talked about their history as a couple.

The Obamas had student loans that were more than their mortgage when they were first married; the Romneys lived in a basement apartment while going to college. "We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish," said Ann. "Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen."

Romney provided the data to back up her assertion that her husband has what it takes to lead our country. "He did it in Massachusetts, where he guided a state from economic crisis to unemployment of just 4.7 percent. Under Mitt, Massachusetts's schools were the best in the nation. The best. He started the John and Abigail Adams scholarships, which give the top 25 percent of high school graduates a four-year tuition-free scholarship."

Obama told us that Obama cares. I am sure she is right, he does care about people -- but is caring enough, or do we need competence?

There will be a clear choice this fall.

People versus the government.

Personal independence versus government dependence.

Private-sector building versus government building.

It boils down to this: Where do drive and initiative come from in America? From people or from government? Who is the servant, and who is the master?

It's not enough to feel someone's pain -- we need a leader with competence, who understands that our government did not build anything, but that our government was built by "We the People," and that freedom and independence lead to prosperity for all.