I have a modest proposal: Don’t take a party break in New York City or head home to catch up on sleep. Fall break is the perfect time to volunteer to knock on doors for the reelection of President Barack Obama. Princeton in the nation’s service needs you now if we are to confront honestly and intelligently the problems affecting this country.
Now, you may be asking yourself, why aren’t I recommending that students volunteer “for the candidate of their choice,” possibly Mitt Romney. Because I cannot be nonpartisan — a nice word for on the fence — regarding the most important election in my lifetime.
I will be cruelly blunt: Any student who supports Mr. Romney betrays the intelligence and common sense that earned him or her admission into Princeton. Put simply Mr. Romney and the modern Republican Party are not fit to govern this great country. Moreover, on the positive side, President Obama and the Democratic Party have shown why they merit our enthusiastic support (whatever “quibbles” we might have with their performance to date.)
For starters, we have no way of knowing which Romney would show up at the White House were he (gasp) to prevail. Would it be the moderate/progressive Republican who as Governor brought universal health care coverage for the people of Massachusetts and supported “cap and trade” legislation to fight the menace of global warming, among other “liberal” causes?
Or would it be the “Tea Party” Romney who vowed to cheering supporters that his first act in office would be to “repeal Obamacare,” even though it is modeled on “Romneycare,” notably the individual mandate of the Romney who has repudiated evidence of global climate change? We simply cannot know, and his performance in the first presidential debate gives us no clear indication of which Romney would emerge. But I’m guessing it’s the Tea Party Romney teamed with Paul Ryan, the true Tea Party darling.
There is also the small matter of Mr. Romney’s repudiation of any interest in protecting 47 percent of the population simply because they do not pay federal income tax. Never mind that this 47 percent includes those who paid payroll taxes for Social Security, men and women in uniform (including my nephew on active duty in Afghanistan), the disabled, those too poor to pay taxes and elderly retirees who paid income taxes for most of their adult lives.
And, oh yes, the unemployed are also included in that 47 percent category. Incidentally don’t Mr. Romney’s comments on the 47 percent reveal that he doesn’t really mean it when he says his campaign is all about “jobs, jobs, jobs?”
Fundamentally, this election is about what kind of nation we want to live in. Are we a people who believe that government has a moral obligation to help those who cannot help themselves as well as to invest in the infrastructure needed to foster and sustain economic growth, a multiparty tradition extending from the Erie Canal to government support for renewable energy (which Romney would trash)? Or, as President Obama has pointed out, are we a nation where “you’re on your own,” no matter how desperate your situation, the core principle of today’s Republican Party?
Fall break is the perfect time for Princeton students to line up on the right side of history. Get ready to start knocking on doors! Let’s keep Michelle Obama and her husband in the White House for another four years!
R. William Potter ’68 is an attorney in Princeton and a frequent preceptor in law-related courses at the University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.