A president to unite us

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Vice Chair, House Republican Conference
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Democratic strategist and Obama adviser Hilary Rosen has caused something of a firestorm with her comment that Ann Romney has “never worked a day in her life.” Her slight of stay-at-home moms — Ann Romney did the very hard work of raising five sons — was not a fluke or a slip of the tongue or an isolated incident. Rosen’s remarks were part and parcel of standard operating procedure in Obama’s Democratic Party: sow division among the American people and try to reap the benefits.

We’ve seen it happen too many times these last four years. It is a strategy that treats us not as Americans but as members of groups. Union or non-union, rich or poor, liberal or conservative. Now President Obama seeks to divide women between those who work raising a family and those who work outside of the home.

Women are not so easily categorized. Like all Americans, we each have our own dreams and our own vision for how we want to live our lives. Those dreams and the decisions they entail should be respected, not held up to public scorn and ridicule.

But there is one thing that unites us all — we want to leave behind an America that is better than we found it, one where our children are not saddled with crushing debt, and good jobs are plentiful for those who seek them. On this critical point — perhaps the most important one on which to judge a presidency — Barack Obama has failed.

It’s no secret that President Obama has a dismal record on jobs and the economy. But many Americans are unaware of the fact that women have been hit hardest by his economic policies. Since President Obama took office, the unemployment rate among women has surged from 7.0 percent to 8.1 percent and the poverty rate among women is at its highest point in nearly two decades. President Obama’s answer? Higher taxes and more regulation, which will do nothing to bring our economy back.

President Obama and his advisers claim there is a Republican “war on women.” In doing so, they hope to distract Americans from their shortcomings by igniting the divisive social battles of the past. What better way to turn attention away from the president’s record of failure?

We deserve a president who will bring Americans together. Yes, we often disagree on the best policies to move our country forward. But we also have so much common ground, the sort of common ground that allowed for the great compromises that were once the hallmark of American government. It was such common ground that allowed President Reagan and a Democratic Congress to enact legislation that ushered in unprecedented economic prosperity in the 1980s, or produced welfare reform in the 1990s.

The American people are weary of gridlock. They are tired of ballooning deficits and runaway spending and a White House that has done nothing but increase the partisan bickering in Washington. We need a new start.

Mitt Romney was a conservative governor in a liberal state. He couldn’t afford to be divisive, and if he wanted to accomplish anything, he knew it would take working across party lines. The results of his efforts? Nineteen tax cuts, a $3 billion budget deficit transformed into a $2 billion rainy-day fund and 4.7 percent unemployment.

Barack Obama had his chance. He decided to squander it dividing Americans against themselves. It is time for a change. Mitt Romney has united people before. He will do it again as president.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is vice chair of the House Republican Conference. She is the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress.