The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 8, 2012

Anson Burlingame, guest columnist; Voters need to focus on future

By Anson Burlingame
Special to The Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — It is inevitable that progressives will use sound bites from a long and hard-fought primary campaign for the GOP nomination for the Republican Party’s nomination. Duane Graham did exactly that in his column (May 6) in the Sunday Globe. Any high school student with a computer could come up with such comments in about five minutes.

OK, try this one:

“I was fighting against (Republican) ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.”

— Hillary Clinton, Myrtle Beach debate, 2008

I can easily go back four years and come up with all sorts of anti-Obama rhetoric in terms of Democrats opposing then Sen. Obama. I can also come up with all sorts of campaign promises made by candidate Obama that never came true.

So, what?

Our job as American voters is to choose the best person possible to lead our country for the next four years based on policies they propose — policies on a broad and complex range of issues.

Does President Obama support slum landlord businesses? Nope, not in my view. Does Mitt Romney support “vulture” capitalists?   Nope, not in my view. It is what I believe either man will do in the next four years to mitigate (neither can solve) the complex issues facing America that matters.

Why in the world should I vote for or against a man based on what either presidential hopeful Gov. Rick Perry or then Sen. Clinton said or thought during an earlier campaign. They both lost.

Both Obama and Romney have been vetted. Both men are honest, law-abiding, family men with impressive levels of personal compassion for many people. Neither one is a crook, a liar, a cheater, a communist or a Nazi, etc. But both have been wrongly accused of such.

However — and there is no doubt about this — each man has a very different view of how America should be governed in the future. That should be the essence of our political discourse: a discourse on policy proposals for the future.

If I really believed that Obama was a “socialist community organizer” and Romney was a “vulture venture capitalist” I would not vote in the election. If someone votes because they believe such terms are factual, then I suggest that is a pretty shallow, if not simply dumb, way to decide to vote.

Our political discourse should be better than that and should focus on policy alternatives for the future. Forget the ridiculous name-calling that is simply political hyperbole.

Anson Burlingame lives in Joplin.