In 2008, we were among the voices of the Heartland that warned of the perils of a Barack Obama presidency. These were voices crying in the wilderness. County by county, until all 77 were included, Oklahomans rejected the rhetoric of hope and change peddled by Obama.
Voices of common sense, not anger and entitlement, spring from the Heartland. We must raise our voice again because America is in trouble. We stand and watch as our country plummets deeper into polarization. We are divided by a divisive president — Republicans and Democrats, wealthy and poor, employed and unemployed.
We in the Heartland wait and watch as the Republican debates rage on — as if we will all text in our votes and pick a winner to stay on the island. This must stop! It is maddening to those of us with strong conservative convictions in the middle of the country. It is enabling Obama to fatten what is already the plumpest campaign war chest in history while the Republicans drain their resources battling each other.
We believe in the primary system, but even a good system can be detrimental when carried too far. To unseat the incumbent, we need total focus on November, not sideshow politics that will dilute the Republican efforts.
Stop inane bashing
Today we call on those in the Heartland to stand united. Let's put a stop to the inane bashing going on in the Republican presidential race. Let's unite behind a man who can beat Obama and let's do it sooner rather than later.
That man is Mitt Romney.
The Heartland states contribute significantly to America's greatness. We must contribute to the restoration of that greatness. This is where the unemployment rate is among the lowest in America, where religion and family values still matter, where people work hard to earn a living and aren't focused on government handouts and entitlements. This is home to some of the largest military installations in the country, a place where men and women in uniform are respected.
The reddest of the red states stand on a high moral ground. They are not mired in the estuaries of bicoastal elitism. We matter and we must make our voices heard.
This isn't about pride. It's about putting a new president in office to lead this country back to its once powerful world position. It is time to get serious about the current and future well-being of the country.
Today we face economic disaster — partisan gridlock in government, unfathomable national debt, lack of moral leadership, threats from terrorists, energy dependence — the list continues to build and weaken the foundation of our nation.
We cannot let a bad president with a bad record walk into a second term because the Republican Party couldn't unite around a candidate who is not only electable but capable of leading, uniting and governing America.
That leader is Mitt Romney.
Newt Gingrich, a skilled orator who isn't short on intellect or ideas and who has won against the Democrats in the past, is not the man who can wrestle a second term away from our current president. Mitt Romney can. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows Obama with a 51-40 lead over Gingrich. That same poll shows Romney just two points away from the president, 47-45, which is within the margin of error. Over time, the Gingrich spread will widen while the Romney difference, if he is allowed to focus on November, will shrink and overtake the incumbent.
Aligns with our values
Romney aligns with our values in Oklahoma and throughout the Heartland. He made that clear in a Dec. 7 meeting with members of the editorial boards of The Oklahoman and The Washington Examiner.
Romney brings hands-on experience and pragmatism. He's been criticized for changing his opinions through the years on some serious issues. But with years and life experience come wisdom, which can lead to a closer look and a change of opinion. Who among us has not evolved as a person as the years mount?
Obama's lack of experience and his lack of wisdom have plagued us since he took office. He simply did not have the skills to be president. Simply put, his only real-life accomplishment was positioning himself, through well-orchestrated charisma, to be elected president. He flutters from speech to speech, proposal to proposal, always touting a paternalism steeped in the transfer of wealth from successful taxpayers to tax consumers.
Instead of reforming the entitlement system, he would extend its size and reach with Obamacare and perpetual unemployment compensation.
Instead of helping the poor by stimulating private sector jobs, his administration helps keep them poor. The middle class has shrunk on his watch. If the Environmental Protection Agency's mandate to reduce regional haze is allowed to stand, it will dramatically increase electric bills for the poorest utility customers. A Romney EPA would not do that.
We need a president who doesn't sacrifice fossil fuels on the altar of wishful thinking. Oklahomans get this. Obama does not. He's paid lip service to expanding markets for domestic natural gas. He's paid debt service to expanding ventures such as Solyndra.
A direct impact on the Heartland is his lack of leadership on the Keystone XL pipeline. The $7 billion project is shovel-ready and would put thousands to work. In Oklahoma alone, it would lead to an additional $1.2 billion in new spending for the state's economy.
Barack Obama has never been in touch with the Heartland's way of life. Here's how he referred to people like us: “And it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Such elitism permeates his administration. The Department of Labor has proposed regulations that would prevent kids under 16 from performing their chores on family farms. The essence of his health care plan puts bureaucratic nonsense between us and our doctors. His assaults on free enterprise and free markets have crippled business owners from growing their enterprises and consequently reducing unemployment.
We must elect a new president who, unlike Obama, can govern better than he can campaign, one who will actually stop campaigning when the election is over.
Obama was poor choice
Oklahomans knew Obama was a poor choice for president in 2008. Now the rest of the country knows it. But on Election Day next November, we won't be checking “yes” or “no” beside the name of the incumbent. It is not a recall election. We will either check Obama's name or that of another candidate. Romney is the name we must check.
Mitt Romney exudes wisdom, in addition to decency, compassion, pragmatism and coalition-building skills. For a Republican to get elected in Massachusetts is remarkable, perhaps a bigger feat than Republican Ronald Reagan getting elected governor in California.
Romney is a self-made man. Obama is a government-made man. Romney's skill set includes three areas of expertise that are needed to run this country:
He has success in the public sector. Romney took office as governor midway in a fiscal year facing a potential $650 million shortfall in the Massachusetts budget. By restructuring state government, increasing some fees and making legislative changes to the state's tax code, he was able to balance the budget without tax increases.
The Washington Examiner, in its endorsement of Romney, said the candidate “will bring back to the Oval Office a faith in the ability of every individual to achieve his or her greatest hopes, and an unwavering pride in America and its limitless potential for greatness. He understands the American dream because his family has lived it ... He has a capacious but disciplined intellect; he drives himself relentlessly but leads without using his whip hand; in line with Mormon practice, he gives 10 percent of his money to his church; he has been married to his high school sweetheart for 42 years and has five admirable children and 16 grandchildren.”
In Oklahoma we call that “good people.” Good people do the right thing at the right time regardless of party politics. They don't wait for others. The time to unite behind Romney is now, not after Iowa or New Hampshire or the Oklahoma primary in early March. Now!
In 2008, all 77 of our counties lined up against Barack Obama. It's time for us to line up for Mitt Romney. From here, this movement needs to grow throughout the Heartland. Together, our voices can lead Republicans, independents and Reagan Democrats in other states out of the wilderness. We can be the voice of reason by supporting someone who on Day One will send a jobs package to Congress with the goal of putting America back on a path of robust economic growth.
In the remaining days, weeks and months of his presidency, he will rely on the collective strength of this nation to restore us to greatness. Mitt Romney is the man — the only man — who can beat Barack Obama.