Now that the first presidential debate of 2012 is in the history books, the pundits are all undoubtedly hard at work organizing, anatomizing, analyzing, scrutinizing, synthesizing, and dogmatizing the remarks made by both President Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney. Of the many statements proclaimed during the debate, one thing that I’m sure all pundits will agree on is the candidates’ views on the role of the government.
Mitt Romney took a traditionally conservative view of the government’s role by advocating for smaller government, lower taxes, and decreased spending. In terms of healthcare, Romney supports repealing the Affordable Care Act and relying instead upon smaller, state-based reforms. The role of the government, he says, is to keep people safe and create “ladders of opportunity” for its citizens. Mr. Romney scoffed at the President’s view of a larger bureaucratic role calling it, “trickle-down government”.
President Obama, on the other hand, takes a more moderate approach; declaring, essentially, that the government should be large enough to care for the needs of its people. He spoke of raising taxes on the highest earners and investing in education, science, technology, and infrastructure. The Affordable Care Act was, of course, passed during the Obama administration and sought to protect millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans and defend them against the greed and indifference of the healthcare industry.
Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan was the last nail in the coffin in terms of indicating the direction that his campaign seeks to go in terms of the role of government. Since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, Republicans have moved further and further to the right in terms of policy and the Romney campaign is just the latest incarnation of this shift.
The Obama administration, despite what many Right-Wing pundits insist, has taken moderate policy positions; to the point where they have backed Republican ideas and reached across the aisle only to be given the cold shoulder by conservatives.
This election, voters have a distinct choice about what they feel the fundamental role of government should be. Will the people choose to be their brothers keeper or will they choose to go at it alone?