Elections have consequences — I learned this firsthand in the 1964 presidential campaigns of the incumbent, Lyndon B. Johnson, and his opponent, Barry Goldwater. The LBJ faction's famous "Daisy" ad painted Sen. Goldwater as reckless and impulsively unstable — that a vote for the Republican would virtually guarantee going to war in Vietnam.
I ignored this sage counsel and voted for the senator and, as promised, I found myself serving in Vietnam — twice in fact, for a total of 26 months.
I use this obviously ridiculous example to make the point that much of the campaign rhetoric is equally foolish, aimed at the most gullible of the electorate. Otto von Bismarck, "Iron" Chancellor of Germany from 1871 to 1890, stated it best when he opined, "People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election."
During my 77 years, presidents and legislators have come and gone with scheduled regularity, accompanied by overly ambitious campaign promises and, in the last 20 years, increasingly shrill and malicious personal attacks. If there is a trend that Democrats, Republicans and independents might agree upon, it is that political civility is dead.
One area that never seems to change is the maddeningly repetitive cliches. Democrats are subjected to bromides of being soft on crime, anti-military and defense, pro-big government, anti-Second Amendment and the party of tax and spend.
Conversely, Republicans are deemed pro-wealth, war mongers, racist, anti-women and generally opposed to any programs favoring the elderly, disabled, young, poor and middle class. It is remarkable that after so many years of being the undisputed champions of the poor, the disadvantaged and the minorities, that the Democrats have discovered the middle class.
These stereotypes are based on innuendo, half-truths and exaggeration, as the notion that up to one-half of the population believes the other to be its sworn enemy is absurd. There are political differences, normal and necessary, as neither side has a monopoly on ideas — nevertheless "united we stand, divided we fall" is a good judgment to follow.
In past elections, while making no secret of my conservative Republican bent, I have refrained from endorsing either major party candidate. My reasons were twofold — first, I knew my opinion would not move the electorate one iota. Secondly, my faith in the strength of our system of checks and balances provided by the Constitution has made me comfortable with the knowledge that we would not stray from those attributes that keep us strong.
Sadly, I am no longer of that opinion. Four years ago, following the election of President Barack Obama, I wrote: "On Nov. 4, the people elected Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama president. As your resident evil, mean-spirited and conservative Republican, I am disappointed; however, as an American, I accept and respect the voters' decision. He is my president-elect."
I still accept and respect that as the decision of the electorate. Mr. Obama was swept into office with an aura of good feeling and optimism at home as well as abroad. His inaugural contained the following: "On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."
That this did not come to pass is history; however, I will not waste time on the determination of "who shot John." Neither will I dwell on the various campaign attack ads nor "who won the debates." Actions speak louder than words.
Instead, I will keep it short and sweet. Both President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney have traded charges that the other has not provided a plan for the future. However, the president's four-year, less-than-successful record augurs little optimism for the future. We cannot afford more years of the same as "leading from behind" violates every principle of leadership that I learned.
Additionally, I am not comfortable with his tactic of bypassing Congress and the Constitution in choosing which laws he will enforce. Whether by not enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, selectively enforcing immigration laws or making recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess, he has violated the separation of powers doctrine.
Finally, I offer the following quote from the late Peter Jennings, an ABC News anchor with whom I seldom found agreement.
"Do we elect a man because of what he stands for, because of where he stands on the issues, because how he makes the nation feel?" The answer establishes Gov. Romney as the better candidate.