By Sarah Jost
Last night’s presidential debate made two things perfectly clear: Mitt Romney is not qualified to control U.S. foreign policy and President Obama has done everything exactly as he should have regarding international affairs over the past four years.
On nearly every issue, from the crisis in Syria to the ousting of Mubarak in Egypt to relations with Israel to leaving Afghanistan in 2014 to the use of drones, Mitt Romney’s response to President Obama’s actions, policies, and plans was ‘ditto.’ He essentially just repeated everything the President is already doing or plans to do.
In addition to demonstrating the wisdom and expertise of President Obama in the realm of foreign policy, Romney’s dittos illustrated his inexperience and unpreparedness for the position. Because he couldn’t contribute anything meaningful to the discussions, Romney spent the entire debate obnoxiously name-dropping complex-sounding foreign cities and leaders, apparently to show how well-informed he is about international affairs. Instead, this came across as childish and completely unnecessary. President Obama doesn’t have to peacock his knowledge of foreign leaders: he is the President of the United States. He works with these people on a daily basis. He knows them personally. His discussions centered on actual policies, not a recitation of names and places.
Romney claimed that he wants ‘a peaceful planet,’ but his election would mean a severe drop in the United States’ international standing, and therefore, security. Having spent the past year travelling abroad, I can attest to President Obama’s assertion that ‘our alliances have never been stronger.’ From when I studied abroad during the Bush presidency to now, the political opinion of the United States abroad has improved immeasurably, despite constant embarrassments from the Republican party, which, trust me, do not go unnoticed or unjudged by the international community.
President Obama also underscored the importance of a strong, healthy United States in maintaining our international standing. He acknowledged U.S. students’ poor math and science performances, and provided a plan to make crucial improvements. Romney, on the other hand, continued to claim responsibility for Massachusetts having the number one schools in the nation during his governorship, failing again to mention that that was the case well before he ever took office, and largely thanks to initiatives that began a decade before he became governor. What Romney did do as governor was cut funding for those number one schools he continuously touts.
Were he to become president, Romney would undoubtedly continue the work he began as governor. This would include, as he said last night, ‘cutting program after program that we don’t absolutely need.’ The problem with this is that what Mitt Romney needs and what the average U.S. citizen needs, like affordable, accessible health care, educational programs, and quality, unbiased free news media, is clearly quite different.