by Taylor Dibbert
Barack Obama inherited a mess, but his presidency has been, by most historical standards, a massive disappointment. Obama has had some foreign-policy successes, but most Americans could not care less about foreign policy.
Besides, he has alienated the left-wing of his party by perpetuating (and even expanding upon) many of the counterterrorism policies of his predecessor.
Obama is telling the American public that we need to move “Forward” and that Mitt Romney would be a step backward for a host of reasons. It would appear that Obama’s strategy is working.
The fact that Mitt Romney has a reputation as a “flip-flopper” does not guarantee that President Obama will be reelected in November. What does make it likely that Obama will be reelected (aside from some recent polling in swing states) is the fact that pundits are lamenting the Romney campaign’s ineptitude and utter lack of policy coherence. How much time does Mr. Romney need to get his act together?
Unfortunately, there is no short (or clear) answer to this fundamental question.
I am trying to warm up to Mitt Romney. He seems like a person of integrity. He is smart and he certainly has the qualifications to be a good president. Yet his judgment is questionable and I suspect that many voters feel the same way. Why has Mr. Romney not made a more convincing case as to why he should be in the Oval Office?
And how much more time does he need to make that case? If he fails in November, he won’t have another opportunity.
After all, Mitt Romney has been running for president for more than five years. Given the circumstances, the fact that he hasn’t closed the deal by now really is baffling. A recent article in the Financial Times mentioned that the Romney campaign (obviously) has some serious problems related to messaging.
My question is this: Why are people talking as if this were a new development? The Romney campaign’s policy and messaging problems are nothing new. It lies at the heart of his disappointing and lackluster campaign. It is, above all else, the reason, that four more years of Barack Obama becomes more likely with each passing day.
I suppose there is still time for Mr. Romney to turn things around. But there’s not a whole lot of time. People always tell me that I’d be “throwing my vote away” if I were to vote for a third-party candidate. Those same people tell me that if I were to vote for a write-in candidate, then I would have really lost my marbles.
There are a plethora of reasons to lament America’s two-party system. And there are just as many reasons (or perhaps more) to think that nothing will change in the near future. The dichotomy between the Democratic and Republican parties can be exasperating. And, unfortunately, I’m left with the obvious yet pertinent question: Who speaks for me?
I have been told repeatedly that there is “comfort in numbers.” When it comes to American politics, I know that others are also disillusioned. I know I’m not the only one. But that’s not necessarily comforting; it’s upsetting. It’s extremely frustrating to care so deeply about one’s country, but feel that the candidates for “leader of the free world” don’t reflect your views. In fact, they’re not even close.
And I’m not sure what it’ll take to change that.
(Taylor Dibbert holds a BA in political science from the University of Georgia and a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). Dibbert’s writing has appeared in Foreign Policy Journal, Foreign Policy in Focus, Slow Trains Literary Journal, Fair Observer and elsewhere. He is the author of the book Fiesta of Sunset: The Peace Corps, Guatemala and a Search for Truth.This piece appears in the “International Policy Digest”)