United States is better off than it was four years ago

As you travel north on I-75, right near the downtown Toledo exits, there is a sign painted on a building which reads “Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago? Wake up America. Romney/Ryan 2012”

This is a question that I have heard muttered many times by Romney supporters this election season. The question itself is a throwback to a 1980 presidential debate, when Ronald Reagan asked the American people this question after four years of Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

Republicans these days consider anything Reagan said to be on par with religious scripture, and so anytime they get a chance to legitimately quote him, they do so, and I think that is the biggest reason they love this question.

But as I drive by the I-75 sign, I start thinking about the question on a deeper level than just an unnatural love of an ex-president who initially unleashed the scourge that is trickle-down economics on an unsuspecting American public.

It seems to me that “Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?” is actually a selfish question to ask. The question itself seems to imply that empathy or concern for others is useless and you should only worry about yourself in this life.

The proper question to ask yourself before you go into a voting booth to vote for the next President of the United States is “Is our country better off now than it was 4 years ago?”

I think that if you actually look at facts, you have to agree that as a nation we are indeed better off than we were four years ago.

From a foreign policy standpoint, we have ended the war in Iraq and are beginning a phased withdrawal of our forces in Afghanistan, returning the brave men and women who have served this country so honorably home to their families where they belong.

Under President Obama’s direction, we have not only killed many Al Qaeda leaders, we have found and killed Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for the death of over 3000 Americans in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

America is once again looked upon by the rest of the world as the leader in using peaceful diplomacy as a first option, which is quite different from how we were viewed during the previous administration when we were seen as a “bomb first, ask questions later” type of country.

On the domestic front, President Obama’s leadership help saved the American auto industry from going bankrupt, preventing an unimaginable amount of jobs from being lost here in Ohio (and the rest of the Rust Belt) in the process.

Also, President Obama’s early-term economic stimulus bill may have not been quite as successful as most patriotic citizens had hoped it would be, but it did essentially save our economy from slipping out of a recession and into a second Great Depression.

Let’s not forget that when Obama was inaugurated, our economy was in a free fall and nobody seemed quite sure when we would hit the bottom. Things may still not be great, but even Obama said in his inauguration speech that he may not be able to fix in four years that which took eight years- six of which Republicans controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress- to break.

Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), guarantees that people can no longer be denied healthcare coverage based on preexisting conditions, and young adults can remain covered on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26 years old.

USA Today says that “Independent analysts project that 30 million people will gain insurance through Obamacare after it is fully implemented in 2014.” That means that 30 million people will be better off because they can go see a doctor for both emergency as well as preventative care without fear of it driving them into bankruptcy.

President John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” and America did just that.

Now it is time that we again put America, as a whole, ahead of our own personal self-interests.

I know that times are tough right now and people want answers as to how and when things are going to improve, and to that I would say that when America as a whole does better, eventually so too shall the individuals who make up America.

President Obama has spent four years trying to dig us out of an eight year hole and he is doing a good job, because on the whole America is a better, stronger and safer country now than it was four years ago, whether you are doing better personally or not.

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