In a little more than two months, Americans will choose a president.
As Republicans — fresh from their convention last week in Tampa, Fla. — prepare for the fall election, Democrats are gathering this week in Charlotte, N.C., to urge the re-election of President Obama.
Voters will be offered a clear choice on Nov. 6. Last week, Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney stated his case against the incumbent. Now it's Obama's turn to explain why voters should reject the GOP charges of failure and provide him four more years to complete his vision of a new America.
It would be nice to think that the negative campaigning by Democrats and Republicans would cease. But the reality of politics is that negative TV ads work, that attack demands counterattack, that he who hits hardest and most often usually wins. Given the vast financial resources available to both parties, voters can expect to be swamped with negative statements from Obama about Romney and from Romney about Obama.
Skepticism is warranted, and voters would be well-advised to ignore the hyperbole and look carefully at each man and his record.
That's why Romney was careful to use his acceptance speech to fill out his biography for voters who may not know him or know of him only from the portrait Democrats have painted as an unfeeling millionaire who happily throws working men out of a job and stands by unmoved as their wives die of cancer.
A successful businessman, a successful former governor of Massachusetts, a successful administrator who once rescued the U.S. Olympics from gross mismanagement and corruption, Romney chastised the Obama administration for its failures to build a strong economic recovery and offered simple, but practical, solutions.
"President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family," Romney said.
Romney did not so much attack Obama as underscore the disappointment that many feel over the reality of Obama's tenure. During the 2008 campaign, Obama spoke in soaring, and sometimes grandiose, terms, and his impact on idealistic voters was clear. Dreaming of a utopia under the leadership of this new charismatic leader, they laughed, they cried, they sometimes passed out.
But America in 2012 is no utopia, and Romney argued that Obama's failures — the economy, budget deficits, skyrocketing federal debt — require a change in leadership. Speaking more in sorrow than anger, Romney said Obama's big-government solutions, including the $787 billion stimulus bill, Obamacare and stepped-up regulation of the energy industry, have not worked as Obama hoped and will not work. Instead, he argued that they have left the country mired in debt that will continue to skyrocket, scared business owners to the point that they are reluctant to hire new employees and driven energy prices ever upward. "... his promises gave way to disappointment and divisions," Romney said. "... You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him," Romney said.
Democrats, of course, don't see it that way, and they will hit back hard at Romney. They will defend Obamacare and Obama's stimulus package while painting Romney and his vice presidential candidate as extremists who have no concern for ordinary people and advocate a heartless approach for both the young and innocent and the old and infirm.
They also will reaffirm their fidelity on social issues, including support of gay marriage and the wide availability of abortion, painting the Republicans as out of step with this country's changing social mores.
This campaign has the makings of an interesting fight over vastly different political philosophies. It could be a great campaign. It most certainly will be an ugly campaign, a high-stakes battle that will affect the lives of every single American.