Who should be the next U.S. president? An editorial on Mitt Romney or Barack Obama taking office

Voters on Tuesday will go to the polls to decide which man -- Mitt Romney or Barack Obama -- will occupy the White House for the next four years.

President Obama is seeking re-election amidst an economy that hasn't fully perked up since the recession that was under way when he took office; Romney and his supporters argue he can get the country moving more quickly.

Which candidate is better suited to America's needs? Which issues should guide the vote? RedBlueAmerica columnists Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk debate the issue.

MATHIS: Four years ago, I was an enthusiastic Obama voter. Come Tuesday, I'll be a chastened Obama voter -- but an Obama voter nonetheless.

Civil liberties-minded liberals have reason to be disappointed in this president. He has built up the imperial presidency bequeathed him by George W. Bush, adding some new wrinkles of his own. Americans do not leave an electronic footprint that is not collected, in some fashion, by the federal government. Obama has given himself the power to assassinate citizens suspected of terrorism. It's uncertain whether we're more secure; it is likely we're less free.

So why vote for Obama? Because Romney would be worse.

Romney, with his memorable talk of "double Gitmo," would probably continue fortifying the security leviathan Bush and Obama have built since 9/11.

Along the way, it seems more likely that a President Romney would get us in a shooting war with Iran.

It seems more likely that a President Romney would appoint Supreme Court justices who would undermine the rights and freedoms of women to control their own reproductive health, or who would turn a cold shoulder to the rights and freedoms of gay and lesbian Americans to make their own families.

It seems more likely that a President Romney -- a man so vocal in private about his disdain for the poorest 47 percent of the population -- would undermine and dismantle safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the name of reducing the deficit, all while cutting taxes for his rich friends.

And despite a week that saw a massive hurricane hit the East Coast, it seems more likely that a President Romney would be less than dedicated to preserving and strengthening federal agencies that assist states and cities in recovering from such disasters.

President Obama is imperfect. President Romney might be a disaster.

It's an easy choice to make.

BOYCHUK: The case for Romney is the case against Obama. Americans four years ago turned to Obama as a "no drama" leader who would guide the country out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and burnish the country's reputation abroad after a costly, unpopular war in Iraq and a flagging effort in Afghanistan.

He failed.

Obama's first significant act as president -- beyond that futile gesture with Guantanamo Bay -- was to push Congress to pass the $800 billion "stimulus bill." Without it, the new president said, unemployment would top 10 percent or more. But with the plan, the administration predicted unemployment should be around 5.6 percent by now.

Current unemployment is 7.8 percent and the labor-participation rate -- the number of adults who are working or actively seeking a job -- is the lowest in more than 30 years.

Obama's other signal achievement, health care reform, was supposed to control rising health care costs. The law hasn't taken full effect, but the average health insurance premium has risen $2,370 since Obama took office -- faster than when George W. Bush was president.

On the bright side, Obama partisans crow, Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.

Bin Laden is indeed dead. But so are Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith, casualties of an administration that sought to "lead from behind" in Libya, and that cravenly blamed their deaths on a YouTube video hardly anyone had seen or heard of before Sept. 11 of this year.

As for General Motors, profits are up globally -- especially in China. That's good.

But overall U.S. market share has fallen to 17.6 percent since Obama made the federal government GM's majority shareholder. If the feds sold their stake in GM today, taxpayers would lose $13 billion.

Would Romney be better? It's fair to say the former Massachusetts governor's reputation for saying just about anything to get elected does give one pause. But Obama's failures are manifest. And all this president has promised for his second term is more of the same. No, thanks.

(Ben Boychuk is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal; Joel Mathis is a writer in Philadelphia. Contact them at bboychuk@city-journal.org or joelmmathis@gmail.com or facebook.com/benandjoel.)

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