With Mitt’s big win in Florida, things are beginning to settle down now for the Republicans. Despite what the media and the other GOP contenders might want us to believe, the contest is for all intents and purposes over. Mitt Romney–the once and future “inevitable nominee”–is now settling in and turning much more of his attention to the November election.
The election of 2012 provides America a chance impossible since the year 2000 to truly reflect on issues here at home. With no bin Laden, the Iraq War “over,” and troop levels in Afghanistan to be withdrawn in 2014, foreign policy concerns are only a shade of what they were as recently as four years ago. While I do not make light of the numerous challenges faced or the continued violence and danger to our troops still in the field, this is a different world.
With an economy that is still stumbling around, a housing and foreclosure crisis that won’t go away, a healthcare plan that is a huge question mark, and unemployment still way too high, the United States is “returning home” to itself in a way it hasn’t since 2000. Remember when George W. Bush was elected as “a uniter, not a divider?” When his lack of foreign policy experience was seen as negligible? When he was going to be “the education president?” The days of yesteryear, surely…but the emphasis on domestic concerns has returned.
To meet these needs we will either have Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. Both men seem to be grownups and are real presidential material. Both men appear to be intelligent individuals. Both men have different understandings of the way forward for America. My hope is that in the midst of their conversations and the ensuing national debate we can reflect on the larger course of our country and the policies that will guide us as the 21st century continues.
Hopefully these two grownup men can rise above their baser impulses, resist the temptations of attack and defense, and avoid shenanigans and empty potshots. No swiftboats in 2012, I hope. No “slogans-only” campaigns. No wedge issues on various social matters which, while important, will serve to distract from larger questions. Just a real, honest, and open airing of different economic visions and domestic policies for our country. This is something we need here in America. I challenge Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to trust America enough to lay out these visions without resorting to a “win at all costs” approach. True, it is more than we often petty Americans deserve. But it is what our democracy needs.