My father, Bill Baggott, has been a registered Republican for over forty years. Now retired, he worked in corporate law for thirty years. I'm a registered Democrat for over twenty years, and there have been times when we haven't seen eye to eye. That said, I deeply admire his breadth and depth of knowledge on almost any topic I throw at him -- as well as the convictions of his heart.
The number one reason my father isn't voting for Mitt Romney is this: he feels Romney lacks character. But his lack of character is something that my father sees most pronounced when on the subject of the American economy.
Yes, he sees Romney as someone who flipflops on major issues, as a politician who panders. While my father is leery of Romney's plan for economic recovery, my father also believes that the bulk of what will happen to the economy in the coming years will be the result of factors largely outside of government control...
except in one area -- American confidence in the American economy.
As a leader, the role of the president of the United States is to give the American people hope for the future. "Romney has been actively trying to depress the confidence of the people. He and his campaign put a negative spin on every piece of economic news. They are constantly reminding us how bad off we are," my father tells me.
Of course, one could say that it's a common political strategy to blast the opponent -- even when the opposition is trying to lead an economic recovery, maybe especially when the opposition is trying to lead an economic recovery. My father's point, however, is that Romney has chosen a campaign of negativity, instead of inspiring hope. My father has seen Romney, again and again, as a leader who uses scare tactics to garner support and not his ability to charge the hearts of the people, to inspire confidence -- and this has a cost.
"When people are constantly being reminded how bad off they are, they don't spend. They don't buy homes. They hold back, and businesses do too. They don't make new hires; they don't expand."
My father is a man who believes in principled leadership and solidarity in times of hardship. He was born during the Great Depression, and his childhood was marked by World War II. And so when Mitt Romney blasted President Obama after the assassinations of a US diplomat and his three staff members in Libya last month, Romney lost my father completely.
"I can't think of another time in history when an opposing candidate publicly criticized a standing president in a time of international crisis. That was not the time to blast our international position. We needed to speak with one voice."
This is how Mitt Romney lost the vote of a registered Republican, corporate lawyer. And it isn't just my father's vote alone.
At Republicans for Obama.com, they have this to say,
"The Republican party isn't what it used to be. Our leaders and our most vocal activists have written moderates out of the party and have refused to work with the other side, to the detriment of the nation....
"Unfortunately, Mitt Romney has not proven to be able to stand up to our party's most extreme elements. Instead, he has fallen for the 'one-size-fits-all' mentality that tax cuts for the already-wealthy will solve all of our problems, and has no workable plans to solve the challenges we face."
It's 2012, and my father will be voting for a leader who he sees as having true character. He'll be reaching across party lines and voting Barack Obama.