Back in 1980, just one week before the general election at a debate against President Jimmy Carter, challenger Ronald Reagan ended the night with one of the most brilliantly executed parting shots at the incumbent when he looked into the camera and asked Americans this question:
“Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
I was only 13 years at the time but I remember how things changed at the moment Reagan asked that question. A week later Carter was defeated.
I keep going back to this question as I watch Obama and McCain fight for the right to lead our country. Am I better off today than I was 4 years ago when Bush began his 2nd term? How about 8 years ago? In same respects I’m better off and others I’m worse off. Eight years ago I didn’t think much about health care or retirement, but after 4 children in 7 years, I’ve given a lot more thought to both. Health care scares me as the costs continue to climb at a pace much faster than my salary.
I listen and both Obama and McCain, and I hear them toss out buzzword after buzzword that works the crowds into a frenzy. But I don’t have a clue what they mean or how it will help my family. I don’t know what they mean when they speak of “change” tossed into every other sentence. I don’t like where President Bush has taken this country, but I’d like to hear specifics instead of tossing out meaningless buzzwords.
I look forward to watching the debates between these two candidates. It’s difficult to watch Obama and not be impressed with his speaking skills and charisma. I have no idea how either would factor into making him a better leader of this country anymore than it would for me to vote for McCain based on his heroism as a former POW.
But there’s something about Obama that gives me hope. Hope for a better next four years compared to the last four. Maybe I’ll have the same feelings for McCain when I hear him speak more than I have. But right now I’m having a difficult time casting a vote for another Republican given where we stand after 8 years of Bush. Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?