Nation must continue progress, see Obama presidency through

Barack Obama’s presidency has not been perfect. His first term was marred with political gridlock, petty bickering and, often, disappointment. It seems a cliché now to say the obvious: The “hope” and “change” of 2008 are squarely in the past.

Yet we are presented again, nearly four years later, with a choice and the answer is clear: Obama’s re-election is vital for the future of our country.

The 2012 incumbent is not the same man as Obama, the 2008 candidate. He has become politically hardened and tired – the evidence is in his face. The past four years have worn him down; they have worn the American people down. A current of disillusionment and cynicism flows just under – and often on – the surface of this election.

The electoral alternative to a re-elected Obama is simply insufficient. Former Gov. Mitt Romney’s candidacy has not presented him as a viable choice. Romney’s policies remain unspecific and muddled, his record a mishmash of contradictions. The things that are clear concerning what the country would get with a President Romney point to regression, not progress. America cannot afford to go backward. We must, with Obama, move “forward.”

Education

The Lamron is, after all, a student-run newspaper, its editors are members of Geneseo’s student body. We cannot overstate the importance of education policy. It is an issue on which the candidates differ greatly. In the past four years, Obama has moved higher education toward a brighter future – one of opportunity and equality. Romney would undo the progress that has been made.

Student-loan debt has reached historic and dangerous levels. More and more young adults see and need the opportunity for a college education; high cost, debt and underwhelming results threaten that opportunity. To combat the expanse of loan debt, Obama shifted student-loan lending from private banks to the federal government. He increased funding for Pell Grants, created a tax credit for students worth up to $10,000 and capped monthly loan repayments. He fought hard against Republicans in Congress to extend the cap on student loan interest rates.

Romney, in his education plan “A Chance for Every Child,” wishes to revert back to private banks and lending agencies. He criticizes the president’s devotion to the Pell Grant program and blames “Obamacare” for rises in tuition – but tuition costs were rising long before Obama’s health care reform. It is clear Romney is not on the side of students.

Health Care

“Obamacare,” as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is often called, is perhaps the president’s signature achievement thus far. Health care reform of this extent had not been seen in decades. Like his education policies, Obama moved a system that treated citizens as customers toward one of equality. No longer can insurance companies discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. Youth can now stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, offering a solution to one of the many uncertainties that face students post-graduation. Obama battled congressional opposition and insurance companies to ensure citizens’ rights to health care.

If Romney stood behind his record, health care would not be a divisive issue. Instead, Romney bends to Republican will and abandons his health care reform in Massachusetts, which served as the model for “Obamacare.” He promises to repeal “Obamacare” “on day one,” even if it’s unclear whether or not he actually can, turning health care into a voucher system, based on competition rather than equality.

Social Change

The social issues facing the nation present a choice between a continuation of the progress made in the last four years, and as Obama put it in the Oct. 22 debate, social policies from the 1950s. Obama is a president who signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing openly homosexual individuals to serve in the military.

He is a president that publically supports the right to marry for all Americans, regardless of sexuality. His health care policy ensures contraception coverage for women. He supports the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. In his first month of office, Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, combating wage discrimination against women.

Romney supports the reinstatement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and wishes to restrict marriage rights to only heterosexual couples. He is the candidate for a party in which certain members attempt to legitimize and qualify rape. Romney wishes to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. His policies leave little room for equal-pay regulation. A Romney presidency would send the country back to a time of social inequality and discrimination while Obama’s policies would build upon the progress he’s already achieved.