Who I'm planning to vote for, and why
I should say first of all that I'm really proud of Mitt Romney, I identify with him, and I suspect he might make a good president. He was born in the state where I grew up, he's a member of my church, and he has a history of business and state-government success. Even more personally, my parents went to his father's funeral and I used to listen to his niece's talk-radio show as a teenager.
With all that, however, I think Barack Obama is a better choice this year for president, and I would like to see some portion of the Republican delegation in the House replaced as well. There are things the current administration has done, or not done, that don't sit well with me, but regarding the core issues of the economy and the deficit, Obama has shown that he can tackle them, and Romney tells an unproven story of what he would do.
It's important to distinguish between each candidate's "agenda" and his party's "platform". The democratic party has elements that are working to remove checks and balances on induced abortons, legalize strange research with left-over embryos, remove the traditional support or prepference for traditional forms of marriage, and take away the right to bear "arms", meaning actual weapons that could kill someone. The Republican party has elements that want to make English the official language of the United States and waste public-education money on vouchers for attendance at sectarian or other private schools. Those are all things I object to, but they'll mostly be decided at the state level (although they might come to the SUpreme Court) and neither candiate spends a lot of time talking about them.
Instead, the main issues are the economy, the deficit, the recently-passed health-care law, foreign policy against Iran, North Korea and China, foreign policy in Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Syria, and (for Obama) immigration reform.
Regarding the economy and deficit, Obama has taken and still calls for a balanced approach, planning to allow certain tax cuts to expire and cutting spending in many areas but also "investing" in areas that should have long-term benefit, such as education and alternative-energy research. Romney says he would not raise taxes and would cut a lot of spending, but would also increase military spending. Of course the president himself has little power over the budget beyond approving or vetoing a bill that originated in the House, and issuing executive orders to dispose or not dispose of discretionary funds; which is why it would be helpful to have more people in the House who can actually talk to each other and make long-term plans.
For the health-care law, Romney says he'll nullify much of it his first day in office, then work on a replacement. Since insurers and employers are already changing their computer-systems and policies to conform to its requirements, that would wast a lot of effort, and is causing much uncertainity.
In foreign policy, Obama has shown that he can negotiate and lead in a complex world, where we compete with coutries more populous than ours, and worry about their citizens' political rights, but worry more about nuclear-weapons development by much smaller states and terrorist attacks by a variety of non-state actors. Romney talks big, and perhaps he would be just as good a negotiator once actually in office; but his arguments with the President during the last debate over exactly what he said at a Rose Garden speech shortly after the attack on the embassy in Libya sound lik partisan bickering, not evidence of a clearly better policy or understanding on his part.
On immigration reform, I personally would support another amnesty like the 1986 one for Central American undocumented immigrants, raised caps on other kinds of immigration, and new programs to bring (or keep) more people here with advanced technical skills. I realize that some people think we need more border security, a limited controlled regularization procedure instead of amnesty, and only slightly raised caps on the H-1B program or something like it. The bill the Senate considered, but that did not become law, for comprehensive immigration reform a couple years ago was, in my opinion, an excellent compromise, and an essential step in the right direction at that time. One component of that was the DREAM act; as its sponsor, of course Obama supported it; unfortunately, Romney tore even that piece apart, with lukewarm support for one sub-piece and no support for another, and given his stance on that issue alone I cannot support him.
In the local races that affect me, I am supporting a Democtrat for State Senate (who I know personally from my son's first-grade P.T.A.), and a Democrat for the House (because his opponent has disagreed with me on everything I've ever actually written a letter to him about).
I should say again that I will be proud to be an American if Mitt Romney is elected; and as others have said he may tun out to be a pragmatic and unifying administrator, but as a practical matter, I expect to vote for Barack Obama, and I encourage my fellow citizens to do the same.