Obama, Romney, and Personal Character

Brian D. Sadie

Comments / 14 July, 2012

The American economy: Comeback kid (The Economist, July 14th 2012) opened with a funny but useful suggestion of how the candidates might see each other: Romney considers Obama a lefty business-killer, Obama sees Romney as landed gentry getting wealthier by enriching those responsible for the world’s financial destruction. While Mr. Obama has proven better spoken than most and less obviously derisive of political opponents, he just might feel that Mr. Romney is rapacious. Meanwhile, Mr. Romney probably thinks that the President is a left-wing business-killer. But for anyone, even Romney, to believe that those controlling major corporations know more than Mr. Obama about how to improve the lot of humanity through economic practice because they like the system and understand how the so-called private sector works is to ignore history.
Who should blame anyone, least of all a President whose job as head of government is to assure the well-being and fair treatment of every citizen, for disliking those responsible for enforcing today’s web of private-sector corporate culture, policy, and law that has resulted in another Gilded Age with massive under- and unemployment?
The private sector that The Economist mentions was designed to permit, legitimize, and protect those profiting most from the system’s innate injustices and inequalities: the recent global depression and unrest resulted from astonishing coercion at every level of society and notable corporate greed. Even Ayn Rand admitted that moral and ethical decency were essential base elements of any sustainable, respectable business system and social construct, and no such decency has been sufficiently evident in big business for anyone to blame Mr. Obama should he feel as suggested. Please also note that Mr. Obama is hardly a left-wing regulator.
As for Mr. Romney, it’s intriguing that the article’s mockery may be right about him: at a private function held by a fellow Bain associate in Florida, Mr. Romney dismissed forty-seven percent of the nation’s people in clearer language and surer tones than in any of his campaign rhetoric intended for a public audience. He has also proven himself a rapacious private-equity man bent on further enriching the very people who caused the mess we’re stuck in. Mr. Romney may even be delusional to boot, a true believer favoring federally-funded shenanigans of Olympian proportions and the firing of many people for no reason other than to make a hefty profit. He has defined making lots of money off other people’s backs and lives as a God-blessed success. Simply put, he thinks he’s right because he’s rich and running for president.
Remember, dear reader, that most of us prefer to be left alone and stay out of others’ affairs. But those pursuing international financial and political prominence are fundamentally different: aggressive businessmen striving for the highest political authority and power over the bodies of others often look to a fiscal bottom line without accepting accountability and considering or caring for the greater human factor. 
Although Mr. Obama has not kept his word on several important promises from his first campaign, he remains the only candidate worth electing. The stakes are huge, not least because of coming Supreme Court appointments. We can’t afford another Roberts or Thomas, and we certainly don’t need the simplistic socio-economic beliefs and dehumanizing policies of yore that, since slavery was declared illegal, have relied on underemployment and indentured servitude to keep a financial elite and fuel a consumer economy based largely on menial services and junk.
Not all rich people are ruthless, mean, or selfish, nor is every non-wealthy person trustworthy. Good and bad are everywhere and context can affect assessment. Given the nature of finance and business, being wealthy might have more to do with circumstance, timing, and other factors of luck than with raw intelligence, talent, integrity, or even determination. Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with earning lots of money. But how one gets it, what one does with it, and how one treats others matters. Those controlling the purse are responsible for paying a realistic wage that enables employees to live, not just exist. Those breaking companies apart are responsible for the effects of their decisions, too. So the candidates’ personal beliefs and social notions really are important.
Mr. Romney grew rich by focusing on the interests of a limited number of investors pursuing short-term profits that could be quickly moved elsewhere for similar purposes and equally quick returns regardless of lingering negative effects on the communities involved. His thinking about law and its purpose reflects those ruthless business practices.
Mr. Obama entered office burdened with his predecessor’s historically astonishing mess and has had too little time to effect significant improvement. He once said he wanted to change the culture of how things were done in Washington. Changing that and fixing global disasters won’t happen quickly, especially when half a term in office is spent on campaign politics. Mr. Obama understands economics and business operations just fine, he just doesn’t agree with state-sanctioned rape of the public.
When time, vote for Obama, but push him to follow through as he promised and we intended.