Our endorsement for U.S. president 


Four years ago, America made history –once again– by electing its first African American president in the midst of a deep financial and confidence crisis. Four years later, an America still worried about its future and its pocket –although no longer in a deep crisis– goes to the polls to choose between two men with two very different visions for the country. We believe President Obama’s vision is far superior to that of his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.


When Barack Obama took office four years ago, the United States was immersed in the worst economic recession since the Great Depression; the entire financial system was on the brink of collapse; the economy was losing an average of 800,000 jobs every month; the automobile industry, key to Midwestern states’ prosperity, was near collapse; surpluses had been turned into massive deficits and with them, the national debt had exploded. Besides this calamitous economic picture at home, America was immersed in two costly wars abroad, one in Afghanistan, which, in many ways, was a necessary war, and one in Iraq, which was totally irresponsible and whose main effect was to shatter America’s image abroad.


Where does America stand today? On the economic front, the Obama administration prevented the collapse of the financial system, the lifeblood of the economy; it pushed for economic stimulus, which was necessary under those circumstances (yes, even when we believe in small government, pragmatism and common sense come first); it saved the auto industry from collapse, another government bailout which was necessary under those circumstances. It should be noted that one of the center pieces of the president’s stimulus plan was a round of tax cuts for those who needed them the most: the middle class and small businesses. These measures helped stabilize the financial system and the economy, and moved America out of recession and into growth –although still sluggish for American standards. Instead of losing thousands of jobs as was the case when the president took office, the private sector is now adding thousands of new jobs every month. Yes, these numbers are still not enough to talk about a full recovery, but they put America in a much stronger position than most of the developed countries in the world right now.

On the foreign policy front, the president abandoned the irresponsible war adventurism that characterized his predecessor’s administration and embraced a realist –and pretty Reaganesque– approach. He promised to put an end to the tragic neoconservative Iraq adventure and he did (in a responsible and common-sense way). He promised to focus on Al-Qaeda and those who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, and he did, disarticulating the terrorist organization and killing its main leaders, among them, Osama Bin Laden, something the previous “tough” Republican administration was unable to do in seven years. President Obama has kept a strong alliance with Israel and has imposed tough sanctions on Iran, which is the right course, but he has also put a break on the bellicose instincts of Israel’s current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, preventing yet another war in the Middle East. America’s image in the world has been restored after a disastrous Republican unilateralist policy that left the country isolated and despised around the world.


The president’s record on the domestic front has been pretty impressive: two experienced and non-ideological Supreme Court justices appointed; oil imports down and American oil and natural gas production up; renewable energy production increased; fuel-efficiency standards doubled; funding for stem cell research restored; “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed; the discriminatory “Defense of Marriage Act” no longer defended by the federal government in courts; anti-hate crimes legislation passed; equal pay for women passed.


But there have been many disappointments as well. Climate change legislation is one of them. Even though the president had Democratic super-majorities in Congress during his first two years in office, he failed to pass a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions. He and his party also failed to accomplish comprehensive immigration reform. And although his health care reform ended the scandal of more than 40 million Americans without health insurance in the world’s wealthiest country, it didn't do enough to increase efficiency and reduce skyrocketing health care costs.  We are also disappointed that the president didn’t embrace the recommendations of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission to address America’s biggest long-term challenge: its massive national debt.


But unlike the caricature Republicans want to paint of him, Barack Obama has not been a partisan warrior. His record has been centrist and pragmatic. He challenged his party’s protectionist wing and did the right thing by signing into law free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. He challenged the teachers’ unions with his “Race to the Top” education reforms that implemented performance-based standards for teachers and promoted charter schools. And he has kept firm on Iran, explicitly saying that the United States will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, although without the typical warmongering that characterizes today’s Republicans.          


But what about the next four years? Does the president really deserve a second term when America’s economy has not fully recovered and many Americans are still suffering? Has he made a case for being re-elected? We believe he has. His plan to continue investing in education and science is vital for the future of America’s competitiveness. His balanced approach to reduce the debt and balance the budget, which includes spending cuts and revenue increases, is far more persuasive than that of his opponent. With the economy now out of recession, if re-elected, Mr. Obama will have the chance to focus on America’s fiscal mess, and his proposals could actually pave the way for fiscal sanity, just like Bill Clinton did during the 1990s.


So what about the Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney? You could arguably think that, at a time when the biggest long-term challenge the country faces is its fiscal health, a former successful businessman would be the right person for the job. Well, not in this case. Mitt Romney may be a closeted moderate conservative, but his party’s extreme positions have pushed him so far to the right that it is hard to see how he could move back to the center if elected. Many have said that, once Mr. Romney is elected, he’ll abandon all the harsh rhetoric and policy proposals necessary to win the GOP nomination these days and will become the pragmatic Mitt of Massachusetts. We believe that simply won’t happen. Even if that’s his intention, his party won’t let him move to the center. Not even George W. Bush, who was revered by the GOP base, was able to push his only heretic policy proposal: comprehensive immigration reform. Imagine Mitt Romney, already distrusted by most conservatives and loved by no one, trying to push for a balanced approach to deficit reduction.


That leads us to believe that a Romney presidency would be a remake of the Bush White House: irresponsible, budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthiest, unnecessary (and budget-busting) increases in military spending, a bellicose and unilateralist foreign policy, a weakened American image around the world, the appointment of extremely ideological Supreme Court justices, tax breaks for oil companies, the end of any hope of passing climate legislation, and a reversal of all the civil rights gains for women and for the LGBT community under this administration.


Even on the fiscal issue, a Romney presidency would be far less likely to reduce the deficit and the national debt. Mr. Romney has been unable to explain how cutting taxes across the board by 20% and increasing defense spending by the trillions would be reconcilable with deficit reduction and a path to reduce the national debt. But that shouldn’t be surprising. No serious economist can find a way to make that equation work. It’s simply not feasible. 


When choosing a president, two things come to mind: policy and character. During the last four years, President Obama has put forward sensible policies that averted an economic collapse, improved America’s standing in the world, and put tolerance and inclusiveness at the center of the agenda. His policy proposals for the next four years offer a continuation of this path and the strong possibility of a new –and necessary– focus on fiscal sanity. Governor Romney’s policy proposals would go back to fiscal irresponsibility, military adventurism and social intolerance.


But if Mr. Obama has the upper hand on policy, he leads by miles on character. Even if you disagree with him, you can’t deny he’s a man of principle. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about Mr. Romney. When you have a candidate that has changed his positions on almost every possible issue on the political spectrum (from gay-rights supporter to social-right crusader; from pragmatic businessman to anti-tax warrior; from liberal to moderate to conservative to “severely conservative” to centrist back again), you really have to question whether that person has the character and integrity to aspire to the highest office of the land.


The choice on Tuesday couldn’t be clearer. Americans will choose between a vision of a country in which every individual who works hard has the opportunity and freedom to fulfill his or her potential, and a vision of a country in which privilege becomes more entrenched and where minorities are denied basic individual freedoms.


We know which vision we want for the future of America. We choose freedom over fear, opportunity over privilege. We choose Barack Obama over Mitt Romney.  


 * * *

See below our endorsements for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, governorships and ballot initiatives.


U.S. Senate

Arizona: Richard Carmona (Democrat)

Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson (Democrat)

Maine: Angus King (Independent)

Massachusetts: Sen. Scott Brown (Republican)

Missouri: Sen. Claire McCaskill (Democrat)

Nebraska: Bob Kerrey (Democrat)

Virginia: Tim Kaine (Democrat)


U.S. House of Representatives

California – 36th congressional district: Mary Bono Mack (Republican)

Florida – 18th Congressional District: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican)

Illinois – 11th Congressional District: Judy Biggert (Republican)

Massachusetts – 6th Congressional District: Richard R. Tisei (Republican)

Minnesota – 6th Congressional District: Jim Graves (Democrat)

New York – 18th Congressional District: Nan Hayworth (Republican) 

New York – 22nd Congressional District: Richard Hanna (Republican)

Utah – 4th Congressional District: Jim Matheson (Democrat)



Washington State: Jay Inslee (Democrat)


Ballot Initiatives


Issue 5: Would authorize the use of medical marijuana in the state. Our vote: YES.


Proposition 40: Referendum on the State Senate Redistricting Plan (A “Yes” vote would maintain intact the work of the independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission). Our vote: YES.


Amendment 64: Would legalize recreational use of marijuana with regulations. Our vote: YES.


Question 1: Would overturn a ban on same-sex marriage in the state. Our vote: YES.


Question 6: Would legalize same-sex marriage. Our vote: YES.


Question 2: Would establish an "Act Relative to Death with Dignity". Our vote: YES.

Question 3: Would allow for the use of medical marijuana in the state. Our vote: YES.


Amendment 1: Would ban same-sex marriage. Our vote: NO.


Issue 2: Would create an independent commission to draw legislative and congressional district maps. Our vote: YES.

Washington State:

Referendum 74: Would legalize same-sex marriage. Our vote: YES.

Initiative 502: Would legalize and regulate the sale of small amounts of marijuana to people 21 and older. Our vote: YES.

Initiative 1185: Would require either two-thirds legislative approval or a vote by the people in order to raise taxes. Our vote: NO.

                                                                                * * *