When President Obama took office in January 2009 the US was plunging downward into the worst recession since World War II. By summer 2009, the US had begun a weak but real recovery, which at last seems to be accelerating into an expansion that more and more Americans can feel.
President Obama gave the order that killed Osama bin Laden. He ended the war in Iraq on acceptable terms. He is enforcing tightening sanctions against Iran, inspiring hopes of a peaceful end to that country's nuclear program.
Meanwhile, his opponents in Congress have behaved about as badly and irresponsibly as any opposition group since the congressional Democrats of the mid-1970s forced the defeat of South Vietnam. And as for conservatives in the country - well, I've posted my thoughts elsewhere on that particular plunge into paranoia and extremism.
Yet you don't have to believe the president a Marxist Muslim to prefer a different direction for the country over the next four years.
Elections are about the future, not the past. President Obama got important things right in his first time, but he's heading the wrong way in his second: toward a future with a permanently larger state sector and much more government control over private decision-making. The United States needs to edge away from that future, and back toward a more market-oriented trajectory.
I don't want to see Obamacare repealed. I don't believe it will be, not even if the Republicans retake the Senate, which I don't expect either. Precisely since the universal healthcare law will remain in place, I want to see it implemented by people who see cost control as the first priority - who will grant maximum flexibility to the states - and who will recognize how dangerous it is to finance Obamacare with taxes only on the rich. A law of benefit to all should be paid for by all, for otherwise beneficiaries lose all concern for costs.
I do want government out of the business of making investment decisions. The way to meet the climate change challenge is by taxing carbon emissions, not by government acting as venture capitalist to the green-energy industry. Fiscal stimulus was necessary in 2009. It's not an excuse for unending government subsidy to particular industries and firms.
The country's most pressing economic problem IS the break-down of the old middle-class economy. Wages are stagnating at the middle, class lines are hardening, and more and more of the benefits of growth are claimed by the very wealthiest. President Obama delivered his answer to this problem in his important speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, a year ago: more direct government employment (at higher wages), more government contracting (to enforce higher wages), and more government aid to college students (in hope that expanding the number of degree holders will raise their average wage). Obama is following a path explored by the British Labor governments of 1997-2010, when the majority of the net new jobs created in northern and western England, Scotland, and Wales were created in the public sector. That approach pushed Britain into fiscal crisis, when the recession abruptly cut the flow of funds from south-eastern England to pay everybody else's government salary.