The Class of the Race
The phrase "the class of the race" originated in the sport of horse racing. It is an expression indicating that a contender has demonstrated a higher degree of ability and can perform better than his competition to achieve desired results. Over time, having been applied to all types of races, it is a phrase and concept utilized well beyond its origin. It is a concept particularly well-suited to the presidential race.
The power to perform, the competence and expertise, the capability to produce desired results -- such is the definition of class. Class is, without a doubt, the biggest predictor of success. Conversely, success, or lack thereof, is what determines class.
A high-class contender -- that is, one with considerable talents, is capable of succeeding, even though he might not be in top form, at his appropriate level or running in the best environment. A low-class contender, however, is capable of succeeding only when in surroundings favorable to his mediocre or meager talents. More often than not, a wager on the class of the race will yield positive results.
Presuming there is nothing in the environment to significantly hinder ability (for example, a treacherous track with many obstacles) or any uncontrollable events such as missteps, accidents, or cheating by opponents, the class of the race will win. In fact, it just may be those obstacles and events that can highlight the exact reasons why a contender should win, as they provide an opportunity to show how he handles adverse conditions. It is easy to do well in a supportive environment -- not so easy to do well in an adverse one.
Regarding the presidential race, the current environment is akin to the track on which the candidates are running. There is no doubt that it is treacherous -- soggy, rough, and unforgiving. In fact, with 23 million people out of work, 47 million on food stamps, a shrinking middle class combined with struggling social programs, $16-plus trillion in national debt, and pervasive national security threats, it is about as treacherous as it has ever been. This track will not be easy for any person to navigate right out of the gate, no matter how talented or qualified.
Informed voters are tasked with determining the class of the race by looking at the ability of the candidates to perform over time. The key here is "over time." They watch what a candidate does, not simply what he says -- his personality, mannerisms, traits, and most importantly, whether or not he achieves desired results. In other words, all else being equal, bedside manner is great, but that alone is not what cures the patient.
Let us look at how each of the candidates has performed in a professional capacity.
After graduating from Columbia University with a degree in political science, Obama briefly worked in New York City, purportedly as a financial consultant (hard to believe, considering his political science degree and the fact that he is mathematically challenged, but that is what he has claimed).
In 1985, he moved to Chicago to begin work as community organizer (which makes far more sense with his degree in political science and his political leanings). Saul Alinsky, the infamous Chicago activist, defines community organizing as the ability "to rub raw the resentments of the community." By all accounts, Obama did (and continues to do) just that, so in this role, he was obviously successful. For three and a half years, Obama worked in various capacities as a community organizer, mostly tackling community projects and voter registration efforts via Project Vote, a group with ties to the corrupt, disgraced, and now defunct (actually morphed) ACORN. By all accounts, he was adept at bringing people together -- at least folks who were already like-minded with a common cause.
In his quest for political power and a bigger impact, Obama left Chicago for Harvard Law School. After graduation, he returned to Chicago and joined a small civil rights law firm as a junior associate and stayed there for four years. The most notable case he worked on was defending the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) against Citibank. The CRA, a liberal dream enacted by Jimmy Carter and strengthened by Bill Clinton, with its push for lowered standards for minority borrowers (a financial affirmative action, if you will), has been widely credited for being the catalyst igniting the housing and financial crisis of 2008. This is the sum total of Obama's private-sector experience.
In 1996, Obama ran for the Illinois State Senate, and after he defeated a couple of opponents when sealed divorce records were mysteriously leaked (imagine that!), his public career was launched. He voted "present" 129 times in the Illinois legislature. Voting present is the Illinois way of expressing opposition to something while shielding yourself from any political fallout.
In 2004, Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate. It has been reported that while in the U.S. Senate, Obama missed 314 of 1,300 votes (24%, compared to a median among his peers of 2.4%, per GovTrack.us). When Obama did vote, his votes were deemed "far-left Democrat."
In 2008, running on a platform of "hope and change," he was elected president of the United States. He has had four years in office, so we need only look at the current environment to assess his performance in that role. Statistically speaking, he has performed much worse than any president on record. His signature achievement, ObamaCare, was passed in a stealth and partisan fashion, and it carries the disapproval of more than 70% of the public.
How does Romney compare?
Graduating from Harvard in 1975 with a joint JD/MBA degree, he went into management consulting and, in 1977, secured a position with Bain & Company. There he helped lead the company out of financial crisis. In 1984, he cofounded and led as its CEO a spinoff of Bain & Company called Bain Capital, a private-equity firm. Having achieved average returns of 88% per year by investing in young or distressed companies, Bain Capital became one of the largest and most profitable firms of its kind.
In 1999, Romney was hired as President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics. When he came on board, the event was besieged with corruption allegations and was far short of the funds needed to break even. Under Romney's leadership, the event concluded with a profit of $120 million. This experience was a nice transition from the private to the public sector, as it contained elements of both.
In 2002, Romney officially went into public service when he was elected governor of Massachusetts. At that time, the state was in financial disarray, with high unemployment and a huge spending problem (sound familiar?). Romney worked across the aisle, with a mostly Democratic legislature, to reverse these problems. By the time he left office in 2007, he had eliminated a $3-billion deficit without borrowing or increasing taxes, primarily through gains in jobs (and thereby increasing the tax base) and government efficiency.
Soon thereafter, Romney decided to run for the presidency, which brings us to the current 2012 presidential race.
Come November, citizen-voters are tasked with determining "the class of the race" -- the candidate best-qualified to become the next president of the United States. To adequately do so, we must be fully informed, look at the past performance of each candidate, and assess how that performance matches up to what this country currently needs.
While the needs of the country are certainly up for debate, at a minimum, most can agree on the basics: a strong economy, decent-paying jobs for its capable citizens, and a more productive society. Nothing else works without those things.
We need to collectively ask ourselves some serious questions and answer them honestly -- questions such as:
1) Who do we think would best perform in the current partisan environment?
2) Who is most capable of turning around an entity running massively high deficits and already saddled with significant debt?
3) Who understands investing and what it takes to help create jobs?
4) Who has shown the ability to bring together highly partisan people with diverse goals?
5) Who do we think could turn around an ailing country and return it to profitability and growth?
And if these questions are too large-scale, they can be brought down to the individual level. Ask yourself questions such as:
1) Whom of the two candidates would you hire to be your financial adviser?
2) Who would you trust is looking out for your interests and not his own?
3) Who do you think really cares about your situation and does not worry about political appearances?
4) Who is capable of giving you the best advice for finding a job?
When results are lackluster or nonexistent, the low-class candidate diverts and deflects. Questions are not answered. And when they are, the answer generally is "It's not my fault." Blame always lies elsewhere -- in Obama's case, usually with his predecessor. No president other than George Washington has ever taken office without inheriting the legislation and mistakes of the past. It's all cumulative. After four years, inheritance is no excuse for poor performance or for making matters worse.
Apparently, when you can no longer sell hope, you push patience. "It will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades," Obama said during his speech at the DNC. He was supported by Bill Clinton, who said, "He has laid the foundations for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity."
The question is: do Americans believe that it has taken four years to lay the foundation for success? Isn't that kind of hard to swallow when we have spent four years witnessing all the partying, incessant campaigning, spending, vacationing, and golfing that Obama has done during his first term?
And now that he is running for a second term, Obama finally (and the timing is certainly suspect) releases a plan of action -- put out a mere two weeks prior to the election, and after Romney accuses him of having no such plan -- that will turn things around. A glossy finish does not gloss over the facts as much as the Democrats would like it to. That plan is simply a continuation of what has been done over the last four years with little to no success, and quite possibly has made things worse.
There is obviously no such thing as a sure thing. A long shot could always come in -- and did in 2008! But that long shot did not pay off. In fact, it cost us. Voters chose the inexperienced candidate, the one with a thin resume and few accomplishments to his name. He won. We lost. Let's not make the same mistake again.
With the stakes this high, and the need to perform this great, who better to vote for than the man with a proven track record and a whole host of accomplishments to his name -- the turnaround guy himself, "the class of the race," Mitt Romney? Vote for Romney, and then sit back and watch as he works his class act on the good ol' USA.