Now that the political conventions have finally ended, I confess I enjoyed the uplifting rhetoric. But I feel disconnected from both parties. While Republicans and Democrats tout policies I strongly believe in, neither party platform represents my views completely.
Coming away from the Republican National Convention, I admire the "We Built That" theme, which encompasses the philosophy that entrepreneurs, innovators and small businesses are the architects of their own successes. The GOP's positive approach to business, along with its willingness to discuss and propose solutions to tough financial issues like the growth in entitlements and the rising deficit, are policies that I stand behind as well.
On the other hand, the Democrats offer great policy prescriptions for social issues. I appreciate their progressive view of gay rights, a more balanced approach on abortion and their willingness to separate church and state. These are choices that individuals should be responsible for, not government.
While I agree with each party to some extent, sadly both leave me cold as they advocate major planks I find unacceptable.
Republicans say they want smaller government, but when they're in charge, they support big government policies, such as the creation of Medicare Part D. More, they say they advocate liberty but will push government in the bedroom and in women's health choices. And their refusal to allow tax cuts to expire or even consider tax increases when we are at war and face a fiscal crisis threatens the legacy we leave our children.
Democrats have great empathy and care about the less fortunate. But their policies have created a culture of dependency, a reduction in responsibility, growing entitlements and an unsustainable deficit. Their knee-jerk reaction to regulate, pander to teacher unions and support trial lawyers hurts job creation and our children's education.
So I cannot consider myself either a Republican or a Democrat.
Rather, I question our two-party system. I wonder how so many smart Americans can embrace the disconnected random precepts of either party.
I also wonder how both parties seem unable or unwilling to discuss big issues like the endless war in Afghanistan, our continued troop presence in Europe and Korea, the disastrous war on drugs, the attendant growth in our prison population, and any specific solutions to our exploding deficit, including the Simpson-Bowles recommendations. More, both parties encourage promiscuous lending for college education despite the mismatch in skills between the three million unfilled jobs requiring specific training and the millions of unemployed Americans holding unmarketable degrees.
Perhaps all of these students, the media, our nation's influencers and leaders should study statistics. From statistics come context, probability and a baseline to separate the important from the unimportant. If we could, as a nation, focus on and debate the important issues, those with the biggest impact, especially on the next generation, then we can start focusing on the big decisions we need to make.
As it is today, our nation and its leaders have no ability to triage. Every issue, benefit and entitlement is of equal importance. Some Americans will vote for either Romney or Obama based on their views on abortion or gay marriage. Other voters may choose a candidate based on the health of the economy. This November, I will vote based on the latter.
Which is why I am voting for Gov. Romney. Social issues are important to me, but they are a luxury we will no longer be able to debate if our economy doesn't recover. Our spending has us in such a debt spiral that social issues, which already cleave the nation, must take a back seat to the economic issues. Because Republicans have at least put forth budget solutions and President Obama has been the most anti-business president I've seen in my lifetime, I am prioritizing and supporting the candidate that will give our children the best chance to succeed in a healthy economy.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, "The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream." Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.
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