I am a middle-aged man of lower-middle-class background who worked hard and had good luck in being able to achieve a very high level of education and a job that I enjoy, thanks in part to the opportunities my country and its governments, Democratic and Republican, have provided.
I started this national election campaign as a supporter of Obama for three reasons that had to do with concrete political positions, in part drawn from knowledge of issues I have worked for decades to master.
First, I believe that government, by obligation, guarantees people's basic needs better than the private sector, which I think is about maximizing its own profits, particularly to its unelected leadership.
Second, I think that the Obama Administration has done pretty well with the difficult economic and foreign policy legacy that it inherited from the Bush Administration.
Third, I believe that the renewed multilateral international politics that Obama's team has embraced enhances the United States' capacity to achieve outcomes in the world that helps Americans.
As the campaign started, and unlike some of my friends, I had no personal bad feelings towards Mitt Romney, and wanted to believe that this was an election about two different visions of American government. Indeed, I engaged in spirited, respectful discourse with spirited, respectful Republican-leaning colleagues and friends in the assumption that fairness and dialogue on both sides were possible. I was willing to be convinced that the Republican candidate had a viable vision on specific issues.
This campaign has changed me. While my views on substance and my belief in respectful dialogue remain the same, I am appalled by what Romney's campaign has either allowed or endorsed. No longer can I truly believe that the current Republican Presidential campaign cares about basic fairness or democracy.
Here are some of the upsetting examples:
(1) Republican super-pacs deliberately stoke racism and abandon any pretense of rational argument in their campaign attacks on Obama.
(3) Republican political operatives are actively and openly trying to deter or prevent likely pro-Democratic voters from voting in major swing states.
(5) Romney's likening of cleaning up Hurricane Sandy to cleaning a football field after a rowdy high school game showed immense insensitivity to the millions of people whose lives have been upended or hurt by the horrible storm.
(6) His choice of a VP candidate who believes the self-centered gospel according to Ayn Rand is evidence that he endorses views that abandon at least the 47% of the American population that thinks wouldn't vote for him.
(7) His constant flip-flops, frequent lies, and refusal to engage in specifics are very scary for someone who hopes to govern a contentious democracy.
I could go on, but I won't. I know that there are people on the Democratic side of the campaign who engage in tactics that I don't particularly like. But there is no equivalence.
People either in Mitt Romney's campaign or connected loosely to it have engaged in tactics that are meant to disenfranchise Americans, exploit religious and ethnic divisiveness, hide information, and spread lies. This is wrong. The ends of gaining office do not justify the means in a democracy.
I am a white male person of religious faith, deeply committed to standing by my family through principles that I live and that I want my children to grow up espousing. To me, moral values and trust truly matter. In short, I fit in many ways the profile of a typical Republican voter.
Instead, I have gone from believing that I should my ballot in support of Barack Obama to feeling I must cast my ballot against all that I have seen Mitt Romney's backers do these past long months. I urge you to do the same.