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Big Decision Time 

This election marks a fork in the road — a path to more government or less

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Now that Republicans and Democrats have officially chosen their standard bearers for 2012’s presidential elections, many Americans on the political left, right and center view this year’s contest as a pivotal moment in United States history — a choice between the “right track vs. wrong track,” a selection between two competing visions of America’s appropriate journey into the 21st century and an election that will determine America’s role in an ever-more-dangerous world. This election will set our country on a course that could last generations and define American values for millions.

The Romney-Ryan choice represents support for a more traditional future for America — an initiative-driven society where those who strive have the opportunity to survive and thrive. It’s a United States that will lead the world on the twin pillars of strength and clarity to friends and foes, and a culture that’s encouraged to return to time-tested principles of common decency and high standards.

The Obama-Biden choice represents a self-described “modern” model of more government serving the underserved and those to whom ambition and self-help are oftentimes elusive in a competitive world — a United States that is due no greater consideration for its historic ideals than those of allies and adversaries alike, and a country for which stubborn cultural standards of the past are “outdated.” (Remember Obama’s infamous quote criticizing Americans “clinging to their guns and religion?”)

Though voters will choose only one American direction in November, consequences lurk for both candidacies.

If Mr. Obama is replaced, our stubborn economic problems will eventually disappear. Through serious Romney-led reforms of government programs, tax policies and citizen sacrifice, economic conditions will improve for all Americans. A tougher, more principled America will face a push-back world that could endanger peace and have adverse economic consequences. Reestablishing America’s role as a bulwark against oppression, though, can affirm American values and stature.

If Mr. Obama is reelected, look for more “you didn’t build that” philosophy, U.S. economic conditions to remain stagnant (debt-ridden) and forceful Chinese and Russian leaders to be more globally assertive. If Congress remains divided, the Obama executive order machine will crank into high gear, changing law and policy in an extra-legislative, devious way. Oppressive nations will be freer to predominate, in places like Iran, and that could foster additional tepid Obama responses that create an increasingly dangerous international atmosphere. His campaign slogan is “Forward,” but most Americans believe we’ve been stuck in neutral under Mr. Obama.

With more than 46 percent of American tax filers paying no federal income tax, an Obama second term will assuredly see higher taxes on middle- and high-income taxpayers supporting an ever-growing dependent class, despite their impacts on the greater business environment. With American culture becoming more liberal (are we now Pottersville?), politics becoming meaner and more Americans dependent on government, fewer voters knowledgeable about the consequences of elections will affect not only domestic economics, but social and international developments as well. Sadly, polarization will continue.

Exercising the right to vote may currently be the most precious gift of our free country. Informed voting is especially critical this year. Voters will be tempted to see only a candidate’s winning personality, broad ideological bent or sturdy debate performance, rather than the core values that define each candidate’s governing philosophy. Surely numerous campaign ads will disparage each candidate via partisan criticisms that may satisfy short-term political purposes, but do damage to American cohesion so necessary for a nation to successfully endure tough times.

Pay attention this fall to testimonials about a candidate’s competence. True character is revealed by how a candidate acts when no one’s looking. Opinions of those who stand up for a candidate tell us volumes about trustworthiness, a trait immensely valuable in politics. Romney’s recent Mormon and business testimonials revealed his previously unknown innate goodness and leadership qualities. See how many Obama supporters testify convincingly to similar traits before November.

Voters are called to a high purpose this election — an informed purpose. American and global problems are so serious that November’s election is not merely another contest between candidates, but a sober check on how Americans want their country to evolve as a free nation. The choice is between a United States whose traditional outlook, one of maximum freedom for the individual and world leadership for our nation, is pitted against its opposite, a U.S. of more government dependence and income class division, taking a second chair in matters of global decision-making.

America’s destiny awaits the voters’ choice.

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