Presidential preliminaries are over and the main event begins

Richard G. Carter | 10/12/2012, 4:17 p.m.
Colony Records was my place for original Black R&B

"Nice thing about you is, you can sound like a liberal, but at heart you're an America."--John Henry Faulk, "The Best Man" (1964)

With Labor Day and each party's nominating conventions behind us, there are just 54 days remaining before America goes to the polls on Nov. 6 to choose the next president. Will it be incumbent Barack Hussein Obama or challenger Mitt Romney?

One thing upon which everyone agrees is that the operative question remains, are you better off now than you were four years ago? Think about it. Think hard.

America's economy under Obama is in shambles. Unemployment is 8.1 percent--one out of every seven citizens--with some 23 million out of work. Manufacturing jobs declined by 15,000 in August and the work force is the lowest since 1981. Only 63.5 percent of working-age people are employed.

A puny 96,000 jobs were added in August, but for each one, four people stopped looking as 368,000 frustrated Americans gave up. Making matters worse, the national debt is more than $16 trillion, with a whopping $5.4 trillion added in less than four years on Obama's watch. Clearly, economic issues will decide the election.

Thus, Obama is not a lock to be re-elected. Indeed, if we voted today, there's a good chance Romney--with a huge advantage in funding--would win. Polls show that a staggering 72 percent feel the country is on the wrong track, and when asked who can best fix the economy, the answer is always Romney. So who is the better choice?

Do you prefer Obama, who has presided over the worst economy since the Great Depression? Under this president, unemployment increased dramatically, gasoline prices soared from $1.84 per gallon for regular to $3.83 and he's added more to the national debt in less than four years than George W. Bush did in eight years. There are a record 46.7 million people on food stamps--most of them white--compared to 32 million when Obama took office. This increase doubled the cost of the program to $75.7 billion.

Or do you prefer the wealthy Romney who, as Massachusetts governor, initiated a health care program that is the model for the wildly unpopular Obamacare; who became rich via investments in banks outside the United States; who is under fire for his stewardship of the Bain Capital investment company; who has refused to release more than two years of his income tax returns; and is accused by Democrats of waging a "war on women"?

As to the price of gas, I recall paying 19.9 cents per gallon for regular while on active Army duty in the early days of the Vietnam War. I'd fill up at service stations between my family housing on the Quantico, Va., base of the U.S. Marines and my job as a supply officer at Fort Belvoir. I barely gave it a thought. But today, I think a lot about gas prices. Regular gas increased 23 cents per gallon the last month--heavily impacting family budgets. In New York and Chicago, it's as high as $4.79, and $4.99 in Los Angeles.