Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are not racists. They do not hate women. Barack Obama does not want to destroy America. These are not conniving, malevolent men. They are men with serious and deep differences of opinion about our country’s core objectives and government’s role in their pursuit.
Those differences are what we should be talking about. Obama believes government should play a major role in managing the economy. Romney believes government should provide a legal and regulatory framework within which economic choices are made in response to market signals. Obama believes the wealthy are not paying their fair share and that more wealth can be redistributed without discouraging entrepreneurship and productivity. Romney believes the prospect of becoming wealthy inspires creativity and hard work while the wealthy invest in job creation benefiting the poor and middle class. Obama believes the Constitution is a living document that must be flexible if government is to meet modern challenges. Romney believes the Constitution places clear limits on government power and that respecting those limits is essential to protecting the liberties on which a free society and a prosperous economy depend.
These and other divergent views lead the two presidential candidates to very different conclusions about taxes, spending, health care, regulation and all of the other questions the victor will face in the White House. Those questions, not outrageous and defamatory ad hominems, should dominate our public discussions between now and November. But don’t hold your breath.
Jim Huffman is the dean emeritus of Lewis & Clark Law School, the co-founder of Northwest Free Press and a member of the Hoover Institution’s De Nault Task Force on Property Rights, Freedom and Prosperity.