As a voter there are reasons to cast a ballot for either President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, but as a parent I honestly can't imagine why any mother or father could vote Romney -- and honesty is the reason.
I'm still relatively new to the staggering responsibility of fatherhood, but over the past three years I've learned that the most important thing I can do for my son -- and therefore the most important thing I can do period -- is teach him to be an honest, upstanding citizen.
Parents teach by example, by being a person who acts with honesty, forthrightness, integrity and responsibility. These are family values. They are also, of course, are the polar opposite of how Mitt Romney has run his campaign and how he would run the United States of America.
Now it's easy to be cynical and say that all politicians lie, but that is a false equivalency -- like comparing a Coleman camping stove to an erupting volcano. Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul 'Lyin' Ryan are unprecedentedly dishonest.
Right to the very end of the election, they are willfully engaging in misstatements, obfuscations, misleading claims, small fibs and bald-faced egregious lies like their current Ohio ads claiming Chrysler and GM are sending jobs to China.
Romney first brought this false claim up in his stump speech before turning it into TV and radio ads, despite being called out by the auto industry. Chrysler's CEO felt "obliged to unambiguously restate our position" that they're opening a China plant to sell Jeeps to the Chinese market and, in fact, are adding 1,100 jobs in Toledo. GM's spokesperson was less measured, telling the Detroit Free Press, "We've clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days. No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country."
Ohio is also getting bombarded by race-baiting welfare ads, once again falsely claiming that Obama removed work requirements, when he actually just allowed the states to make that call on their own. Ironically, wanting to give individual states more powers is a Romney plank. But because Obama did it, well, not so much.
These are the most recent, but are barely the tip of the iceberg, from Paul Ryan lying about his marathon running times and Romney claiming Syria is Iran's route to the sea (sorry, Persian Gulf) to a spokesperson boasting that they won't "let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." By August, one fact-checker alone had already compiled over 500 falsehoods from a Romney campaign predicated on repeating lies often enough that people will start to believe them.
It has been like this since day one. Romney kicked off his campaign proper with an ad quoting Obama saying "If we keep talking about the economy, we are going to lose." Thing is Obama was referencing the 2008 campaign and the quote went like this: "Sen. McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, 'If we keep talking about the economy, we are going to lose.'"
(The press' failure to call him out on this and other falsehoods as far back as November 2011 even prompted our own Arianna Huffington to blog: "Mitt Romney Brazenly Lies And The Media Lets Him Slide.")
The whole "You Didn't Build That" shtick was the same thing, while Obama was referencing government-built infrastructure like roads and bridges and the Republicans baldly pretended it was about small business. Each and every time they repeated it at their convention, they were lying.
And that's not even getting to Romney's etch-a-sketch routine during the debates where he went from a self-declared "severe conservative" to a cuddly, contraception-loving centrist, a real-time reimagining that blatantly refuted most of his previously held positions. Maybe he was telling the truth at the debates, but if so, it means he was lying during the primaries. Same-same.
The list goes ever onward. He was called out onstage by debate moderator Candy Crowley for lying about whether or not Obama called the Benghazi an act of terror. Independent site Politifact compiles a whole list of outright lies. Romney claims regulations that haven't changed have quadrupled, that Obama doubled a deficit that is actually down, and that 20-million people will lose health insurance with Obamacare which actually extends coverage to another 30 million. Romney has claimed Obama is trying to restrict voting rights (he isn't) and hasn't signed any free trade agreements (he has) while saying his own one-term as Massachusetts governor cut the growth of government (he increased spending).
Then, of course, there are both his unproven tax plan claims and his own top-secret tax returns.
It has been said that at every stage of his political career, Romney has been a weathervane -- but saying what people want to hear is still lying if it isn't true.
Truth matters. As a parent, you know this. You wouldn't allow your child to get away with either small fibs or outright untruths. When I was growing up, lying was the biggest offence I could commit. It cuts to the heart of all other misbehaviours. Lying shows a lack of respect for others and for oneself.
And if you vote for Mitt Romney, you are rewarding lying -- you are telling your own son or daughter that lying, to paraphrase Gordon Gecko, is good. That if you lie long and hard enough, one day you, too, might get to be President of the United States.
This isn't about politics or policies, service cuts or revenue hikes. Or even Democrats versus Republicans. It's about character, both Romney's and your own children's.
A president is a person, but he is also a symbol. The way that he acts in the job, and the way that he acted to get the job, sends a message to each and every one of us on what is right and proper in our society.
Let's put this in a way that your kids will understand. Superman fights for truth, justice and the American way, right? Well, if you go into the booth on Tuesday and vote for Mitt Romney to become president, then Lex Luthor wins.
Follow Joshua Ostroff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joshuaostroff