Politicians should stay within the realm of rhetoric

Every four years Americans have the chance to step back and examine the state of their country, think about what they want for the future, and select the candidate who they feel has the vision and ability to lead the nation in the right direction. In many ways, it is a time of national pride.

Election season allows voters to think about what makes America great, and actively participate in our democracy. However, negative campaigning dominates elections in the United States to such an extent that it is tempting to give up on the entire process in disgust. This year’s presidential election in particular has drawn criticism as one of the most outrageous in recent memory.

Of course, negativity has its place in any debate. To make their cases, candidates must show, based on past evidence, how they will be a better leader than their opponent. All attacks, though, should be truthful and pertinent to the issues at hand.  In this election, neither side seems to have any regard for that guideline.

Governor Mitt Romney has drawn fire for questionable attacks made on President Obama’s record. Most notably, the Republican accusation that Obama removed the work requirement from welfare has been widely rated false by fact checkers. Despite the occasional untruths and oversimplifications, though, Romney’s overarching charge is difficult to attack:  economic recovery after the Great Recession has been sluggish, and the national debt has ballooned alarmingly under Obama’s watch.

Democrats’ most recent attacks, on the other hand, have crossed the line between debate and mudslinging. At the Democratic National Convention, three speakers likened the Republican party to Nazi Germany and Congressman John Lewis talked for three minutes about the horrors of segregation, concluding with “we don’t want to go back.” Lewis’ implication that a Romney presidency would take America back down the road of racial intolerance reeks of McCarthyism and is insulting to voters’ intelligence. The unfounded accusations made at the DNC were unfair to Governor Romney and an abuse of the legacies of those tragedies.  Politician’ use of these past wrongs as a political tool is not only ineffective and ridiculous but also in extremely poor taste.  That kind of mudslinging is unacceptable.

Most pervasively of all, Obama has tried time and again to paint his opponent as a greedy plutocrat, harping on Romney’s relatively low tax rate, and his refusal to add fuel to the fire by releasing even more tax forms.

Democrats’ fixation on Romney’s 13 percent tax rate is simply ridiculous. In the last two years, Romney has paid 6.2 million in taxes to the federal government, more than Obama has paid in his entire life.  And Romney’s generous donations to charity should not go unnoted.

Simply put, 13 percent of Romney’s $24,000,000 income is 19.375 times more than 20 percent of Obama’s annual $800,000.  Where then, is the issue? Surely, Obama cannot presume to say that Romney does not pay his fair share when he himself pays less than one nineteenth as much.

Romney’s business success is not snatched from the mouths of the poor and middle class, as Democrats are apt to suggest.  Rather, it goes back to support them. The root of the Democrat’s tax rate obsession is a desire to provoke jealousy amongst the American people, distracting them from the real issues at hand: the slow rate of economic recovery and the five trillion dollars added to the national debt under the Obama administration.

Similarly, allegations that Romney must have committed fraud in the past because of his refusal to release decades-old tax forms are only more sleight of hand.  President Obama waited months to release his birth certificate when opponents questioned whether he was born in the United States.  Witholding the document was not an attempt to hide it; Obama refused to release it because the insinuations that he was born outside of the United States were ridiculous. The demand to see every detail of Romney’s taxes is every bit as pathetic, and regard documents that are far more personal than a birth certificate.

In this election season, voters need to keep their eyes on the real issues. Both candidates are decent men who want the best for all Americans, no matter how their motives are smeared. Let Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama speak for themselves on their personal lives, and let their records speak for their ability to lead America forward.