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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Sept. 2, 2012. (LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS)
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Sept. 2, 2012. (LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS)

Expat dispatches: The view from Colorado, a presidential swing state Add to ...

Colorado is one of the crucial swing states President Barack Obama hopes to hold on to this year, as the mountainous state has voted for a Democratic president only twice in the last 40 years. Its capital, Denver, was the site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Timothy C. Winegard is a professor of history at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colo., where he resides with his American wife and son. He’s from Sarnia, Ont., and spent nine years in the Canadian Forces.

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This is part of our U.S. Election 2012: Canadians in America series – expats talking about life and politics south of the border.

I support President Obama, and his political and social platform, although as a Canadian citizen I cannot vote.

Has Mr. Obama lived up to the popular hype and the promises of his brilliant inaugural speech? No. One of my fellow participants in this project reminded me that I should not be so disparaging. “If this country is good enough for my wife and kids,” he argued, “then it is good enough for me.”

I could not agree more. I have always been a staunch supporter of the United States, growing up and living in Sarnia, 10 minutes from the Michigan border.

However, the Republican Party’s stance on crucial social issues including birth control, planned parenthood, abortion, gay rights, post-secondary student loans and grants, and gun control are antiquated when compared to the preponderance of other western democratic nations. This fall, I hope to see President Obama and his party deliver another election victory, given the social repercussions of appointing the alternative. Mitt Romney has “in some areas, notably social policy…committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses,” as the Economist put it.

This Fourth of July at the parade in Grand Junction, Colo., where I now live, the largest float was the 2nd Amendment Club of Western Colorado, who brandished sophisticated weapon systems, including AR-15s (the “civilian” equivalent to the military’s M-16 or the Canadian C-7), and other assault rifles.

As someone who supports amplified gun control, I was speechless.

Weeks later, I received numerous correspondences from family and friends in Canada about the slaying in suburban Denver. In 2010, there were 12,000 murders in the U.S., with roughly 9,000 inflicted by a firearm. This does not include 20,000 suicides and accidental shootings, or some 200,000 non-fatal gun related injuries. Of the 36 wealthiest nations, the United States led with an annual 14.2 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people, with Canada ranking 10th at 4.3. It seems unfathomable to elect a Republican candidate who has expressly stated his abhorrence to increased gun control. “When it comes to protecting the Second Amendment,” said Mr. Romney, “I do not support any new gun laws including any new ban on semi-automatic firearms. As President, I will follow President Bush’s precedent of opposing any laws that go beyond the restrictions in place when I take office.”

Undeniably, President Obama has failed in certain aspects of his administration. His direction has not bolstered the economy; Medicare (“Obamacare”) remains a contentious and nebulous issue; many commentators consider his foreign and military policy impotent; his stance on the Keystone Pipeline and energy issues seem to fly in the face of a relatively stagnant American economy (and his promise to make America more energy self-sufficient), and an average 2012 unemployment rate sitting at 8.2 per cent. In addition, nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return and 110 million people drew some form of government assistance in 2011 – predominately Medicaid and food stamps.

But I still see the American future under President Obama as sanguine and as a leading catalyst for positive global engagement. Socio-cultural and political evolution, and progressive change, takes years, and this election is an important stepping-stone in the United States redefining its role as a democratic beacon for the world – and for its citizens and residents at home.

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