Driven to tears by campaign excesses by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.

I agree with this four-year-old child in Colorado, driven to tears by the election. Politico made public that National Public Radio apologized to this adorable child whose pain I share. I find I’m repeating to myself the NPR mantra of “only a few more days, only a few more days, only a few more days.”

I’m sick to death of the deceptive nasty ads, the bald-faced lies, the robo calls, the superficial press, the methodologically challenged polls, in short, the whole process. But the sun will come out tomorrow! In fact, consider this Richard Tisei ad, featuring only the loveliness of Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, a bit of respite from the venom spewed by the campaign up until now. Or listen to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Fox News praising how President Obama has responded to Hurricane Sandy. Cynics will perhaps assert that he expects Mitt Romney to lose and is laying the groundwork for his reelection in a Blue State and a presidential run in 2016. Whatever the motivation, such pronouncements are heartening to those who are sick of the malevolent partisanship to which we have been subjected.

When something works, we can allow ourselves to be pleased. Perhaps this explains why a new ABC poll finds that nearly 80 percent of those surveyed believe the President is doing a good job post-Sandy, and three quarters of Romney supporters agree with that. (I trust that many others have noticed that it is FEMA that plays a key role in disaster relief, an agency whose funds would be severely cut in a Romney/Ryan administration.) The point is: people want to live in a country that pulls together. And it shouldn’t take a disaster to achieve a level of comity.

But look at the well crafted, but chilling, personal profiles of the two candidates limned by PBS’s Frontline (The Choice 2012). You come away uncomfortable with the prospect of either man as president. Indeed, The Economist has just written that “America could do better than Barack Obama; sadly, Mitt Romney does not fit the bill.” Admitting it was making “an unedifying choice,” it endorsed Obama, saying it would “stick with the devil it knows.”

As the campaign hurtles to its conclusion, we are sometimes told that the best reason to vote for Romney is that only he can control the right wing yahoos in Congress and get something done. Successfully negotiate with the terrorists? Even John Boehner couldn’t stand up to Eric Cantor and his uncompromising Tea Party acolytes. I fear a President Romney could develop Stockholm Syndrome and, in governing, be led rather than lead. Scott Lehigh’s “Morphing Mitt” underlines my concern.

President Obama will have to face those same Yahoos. Still, his presidency hasn’t been hobbled just by obdurate Republican obstructionsim. It has been a disappointment despite some notable successes. As the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen points out”… somewhere between the campaign and the White House itself Obama got lost.” He has been a better campaigner than executive, better speechmaker than communicator. As angry as I get at Romney’s evasions and deceptive math on his budget and tax plans, I bristle every time I hear Obama talk about using the “savings” from ending the wars toward other programs. We’ve been borrowing to pay for these wars in the first place.

In the end, for me, it comes down to a choice of philosophy of government and whether we embrace a communitarian spirit (with clear-eyed limits) or a more narrow individualistic approach (with grudging concessions only for things like national defense). I prefer the former, with a social compact to pay forward to help future generations. I believe in needed infrastructure upgrades, where public priorities are set and government contracts successfully with the private sector to get the job done. And, when disaster hits, I much prefer to have a well run FEMA to help struggling states than to turn over rescue-and-relief decision making to private entrepreneurs driven primarily to make a profit from the pain of others.

I welcome your comments in the section below.