Most of us have known for months how we will mark our ballots Tuesday, making the painfully long and obscenely expensive presidential campaign little more than a test of our patience. I’m voting for Barack Obama.
But if you’re a voter who struggled and waited until now to make up your mind, here’s what you learned in just the final days of the 2012 campaign.
You learned that the nation added 171,000 jobs last month, many of them in areas such as construction that are significant to overall improvement in the economy. It’s the 25th straight month of job gains under President Obama, and a sure sign that recovery is slowly but steadily underway.
You were reminded that when a disaster like Hurricane Sandy strikes, millions of Americans depend on a swift response from the federal government. In a debate over a year ago -- yes, the campaign has dragged on that long -- Mitt Romney said that FEMA’s disaster relief responsibilities should be turned over to the states and, "even better," the private sector. It didn’t seem too important when Romney said it in 2011, but it became profound when Sandy hit. In the last week you saw again that candidate Romney is willing to change positions to fit the moment, now saying "FEMA plays a key role."
You heard New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg declare that he is voting for President Obama -- an endorsement that the Romney campaign had hoped to secure. Bloomberg said Sandy was the tipping point for him, because elected officials must acknowledge the scientific reality of climate change. But he also cited women’s rights and same-sex marriage rights as keys to his vote for Obama.
You saw New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a staunch Romney supporter, praise the president for his efforts during the storm. Moreover, Christie and Obama provided a clear example of how elected officials can dismiss partisan politics when conditions demand that they find ways to work together.
You listened as one of the nation’s most respected Republicans, Gen. Colin Powell, carefully outlined why he is voting for President Obama. Powell said he has seen "the president get us out of one war, start to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars." He added, "I think the actions he’s taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very solid. And so I think we ought to keep on the track that we are on."
Significantly, Powell said he still considers himself a Republican, but believes that moderate Republicans are becoming a "dying breed, I’m sorry to say."
If you live in Ohio, perhaps the hottest of the battleground states where Tuesday’s election will be decided, two key editorials caught your attention. The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote: "Ohio in particular has benefited from (Obama’s) bold decision to revive the domestic auto industry. Because of his determination to fulfill a decades-old dream of Democrats, 30 million more Americans will soon have health insurance."
And you read in the Akron Beacon Journal: "What is telling about a presidency is its tilt, its direction, spirit and priorities. Thus, to those who argue the president lacks a plan for a second term: Look at the foundation that has been set. He has used the levers of government to bolster the economy, investing in education, innovation and health care, understanding the essential role of the public sector in competitiveness."
By Wednesday, it’s likely that some pundits and politicians will begin talking about candidates for 2016, and the 24/7 process of picking a president will start all over again. But if you spend only a week or so every four years studying the matter, the last few days provided all you need to make a responsible decision.
Peter Funt is a writer and speaker and can be reached at www.CandidCamera.com. His columns are distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.