Ronald Reagan said elections should offer the voters a clear choice. Too bad the nominee of his party doesn't agree.
To watch Mitt Romney debate is to see him swim in a sea of ever-changing waters. Romney is the anti-Reagan: he doesn't argue for his position, he argues for every position on every issue. How can a voter know if Romney is the clear choice when his stated principles vary so wildly?
I value the importance of a strong debate, and that can only happen when opponents use sincere and steadfast arguments. When politicians stick to their guns and say what they mean, and mean what they say, it makes for better public policy and a better democracy. I learned this firsthand when I served as Speaker of the State Assembly, and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor. Because he and I debated every issue imaginable -- I didn't always win and the governor didn't always win -- the result was stronger and more effective solutions. And the people of California benefited because open, honest discussion helps sharpen the end result.
Unfortunately, the American voter is losing out on that opportunity. We just don't know where Romney stands on the issues that matter. He has opposed the auto bailout, and then he has supported it. He has hailed universal healthcare, and then he has condemned it. To be even more specific, initially Romney said he would pursue tax cuts for businesses. But then fact-checkers ran the numbers and declared this would cost $5 trillion. Romney then changed his answer and said he would simply close tax loopholes. But which ones?
When President Obama asked this very question in one of the debates, Romney gave this wonderfully specific answer: he'll work with the Congress to figure out "what are the various ways we could bring down deductions..."
This answer provides no clarity of Romney's position or beliefs. It only offers the American people a meaningless pledge to figure it out once he's elected. Romney knows better than that and the American people deserve better. The purpose of a campaign is to debate established ideas and outline a clear direction for the country, not determine your talking points on a day-by-day basis.
In contrast to Romney, President Obama has offered a clear and compelling argument to the American people. The one word that describes the Obama agenda for the second term is "investment." With the determined belief that if we invest in the future, President Obama has stated we will all reap the dividends. His plan calls for specific solutions that will invest in important projects our country needs. His plan, called "The New Economic Patriotism: A Plan for Jobs and Middle Class Security" outlines a series of investments in education, manufacturing, and energy. These initiatives will keep our recovery going and help create jobs.
Time and again, Romney has refused to talk about the details of his own national investment plan because he believes that independent voters won't like them -- and he's right, and secondly, he's just not committed to communicating a vision and beliefs that could harm his chances of being elected president.
The bottom line is that the leader of our country must have a point a view, a strong one. They need to stand on unwavering principles, they need to be able to compromise without losing their vision, and they need to know sometimes unpopular ideas may not be great soundbites, but they can lead to great policy.
Unfortunately, Romney isn't that person. The clear choice is President Obama.