Most concerned Americans watched all three presidential debates; we all had different opinions about who won or lost. What was most striking to me was just how divided our country has become. For the first time in my memory almost everyone has a particular issue issue that is most important to them in this election.
And I am no exception. Anyone who has followed my work knows my passion for rural America. I noticed there was NO debate question about rural America or the even about this past summer's severe drought. I heard no question concerning the Farm Bill that Congress failed to pass and little about agricultural trade.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney did raise a question on trade -- in order to wrongly accuse President Obama of not signing one trade bill. But this issue seemed to go right past most pundits. In fact, President Obama did sign trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. I not only supported the agreements and worked closely with U.S Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk but also attended the presidential signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.
That bit of disinformation fit a pattern often seen in the GOP candidate's campaign. And the mainstream media too often fail to hold Governor Romney accountable for such statements. This is a clear instance where he is not telling the truth. Moreover he made the comments to nearly 20 million Americans. Changing your position the way Governor Romney has done in the past few weeks is one thing. But a flat out lie is a whole other issue.
I reside and farm in Mecklenburg County, which is considered a Republican stronghold in Virginia, a highly contested state. This is farm country, where tobacco is still the number one commodity. Many area farmers, mostly white males, have erected huge Romney posters on their farms, proclaiming that he would be good for American farmers' interests.
Just how would Mitt Romney as president be better for farmers, I asked one local man. His answer: "Hell, he's a white man."
It's a shame we still have Americans who feel this way in the year 2012. It shows that the country is not only deeply divided on politics, but still has citizens who are profoundly benighted on issues of race. Those who cling to old prejudices conveniently forget how thoroughly white blood and black blood have blended down through our history. They work hard to ignore the fact that the President's mother is white.
From my time spent with President Obama, I can say that he is foremost a fair-minded person and a very deep thinker. There are many issues we can debate but some facts are very clear. This president was sworn into to office at a time when America was at her lowest point. Our financial industry was all but ruined. We faced two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, an auto industry circling the drain and long lists of similar woes.
President Obama showed what he is made of when he passed a health care bill, improving the lives of millions in a feat that half a dozen presidents had tried and failed to do. He also brought down some of our most fearsome enemies, including killing the one his predecessor unsuccessfully hunted for two terms.
Wise voters should look first at Governor Romney's stance of writing off 47 percent of Americans -- bad business for our country. But then he may not actually feel that way. Governor Romney has changed his stance so many times that most Americans cannot tell what he stands for. If he wins the White House I will have to conclude that it was because too many voters agree with my shortsighted fellow farmer: Any white man is better as president than a proven, dedicated and effective black man.
Above all President Obama has been steadfast to his agenda and has gotten America moving in the right direction. I remember what he told us in Chicago on election night 2008. The President-elect said this was not going to easy. The next four years will not be easy, either. But the President needs four more years to finish the job -- and we need him to keep us moving forward.
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