President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, campaign in swing states, Obama in Leesburg, Virginia, and Romney in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in these August 2012 file photos.

Elections 2012: The Last, Best Case For Romney, Obama

Mark Trahant
11/5/12

President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are crisscrossing the country, making their final case why they should receive your votes.

Romney continued to press on his experience as a business leader.

“The question of this election comes down to this: do you want more of the same or do you want real change?” Romney asked in Wisconsin. “President Obama promised change, but he could not deliver it. I promise change, and I have a record of achieving it.”

While the President countered in Ohio that the economy is improving now.

“This morning we learned that companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months,” he said at a Friday rally. “We've made real progress, but we are here today because we know we've got more work to do. As long as there's a single American who wants a job but can't find one, our fight goes on.”

What’s the best case for each candidate in Indian country? What would life on the reservation, a village, or a city look like for American Indians and Alaska Native? (There are plenty of things that could go wrong over the next four years ranging from severe budget cuts to an anti-tribal, pro-state agenda.) There are already plenty of negative reasons to vote against a candidate, stuff that’s repeated often in television advertisements. But suspend all of that because this election, more than a choice about people, boils down to a philosophical choice about government.

So here is the positive case for both candidates.

Romney’s best case is all about jobs. If he were elected, his supporters argue, the full machinery of the federal government would be geared toward creating far more private sector jobs. That would happen with lower taxes, especially on those that are passed through individuals, something common for many small businesses.

Romney would shrink the federal government, and he says, along with that, the national debt. “That clock up there shows our national debt. When I began this campaign it started with 15 trillion,” Romney said at a recent event in Ohio. “Now there's over $16 trillion in debt. If (the President) were reelected, I can assure you, it will be almost $20 trillion in debt.”

One-way Romney would create jobs: A renewed emphasis on oil, gas and coal. “I’ll take America on a very different track. I want to take advantage of the energy resources we have to get good jobs for the American people,” he said at another Ohio rally. He promised to approve the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, double the number of drilling permits on federal land and water and to end the “war on coal.”

In Iowa, Romney said, “I’m making promises I have kept and will keep for the American people ... I will not represent just one party. I will represent one nation.”

President Obama’s best case is about steady progress. He said Friday in Ohio that “companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months.”

But Obama said, “we are here today because we know we’ve got more work to do. As long as there’s a single American who wants a job and can’t find one, as long as there are families working harder but falling behind, as long as there’s a child anywhere in this country who is languishing in poverty and barred from opportunity, our fight goes on.”

“Our businesses have created nearly five and a half million new jobs,” the president said. “The American auto industry is back on top. Home values and housing construction is on the rise. We’re less dependent on foreign oil than any time in 20 years.”

Obama says real change is a process, not a sudden shift. “I know what real change looks like because I fought for it, and so have you. I've got the scars to prove it,” Obama said in Wisconsin. “We can't give up now. We've got more change to bring about.”

The president would continue to use the resources of the federal government to develop new energy, cleaner energy than fossil fuels, and invest in education, job training and infrastructure.

“We know what the future requires,” Obama said. “The next phase of change will not be easy.”

Indian country will have different measures for what success looks like depending on the outcome of this election. President Obama will continue with his policies, including a government-to-government consultation process. Health care funding would likely be significantly better under Obama. Romney’s course would be different. There would be a renewed emphasis on private sector investment, perhaps even channeling some of that support toward Indian country. Basic services under the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service would likely be protected from drastic budget cuts.

Of course we’ll know soon which path is ahead.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. He has been writing about Indian Country for more than three decades. His e-mail is: marktrahant@thecedarsgroup.org.

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