To say that my last column generated a lot controversy would be putting it mildly. I wrote that I was considering not voting next month because I was disappointed in President Barack Obama’s performance in his first term.

Dozens of readers responded, most of them urging me to vote for Obama lest Gov. Mitt Romney win by default.

I appreciate every email I receive — I’m gratified whenever anyone takes the time to read my columns, never mind react to them. I was disappointed, however, that few readers even acknowledged that President Obama has not lived up to the promise of radical change he presented to voters during the 2008 campaign.

Are we that lulled by appearance, “brand” and image? Truly, the election of the first black president was a wonderful and amazing feat. It has been a relief, after eight years of George W. Bush, to have an intelligent, well-read and eloquent speaker as our leader. But if we look below the surface, what do we find? A lot of nothing.

Except for health care, I will grant him that.

Obama was an inspiring candidate, but he’s not an inspiring leader. That’s what we need right now. He doesn’t like offending or upsetting people, but the scale of the problems our country faces requires him to “tell it like it is.”

In his first inaugural speech, in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt began by acknowledging, “This is the time to be speaking the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly.”

After describing the country’s dire straits, he said, “The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.”

Be still my heart. If only we had run off our contemporary money changers while we had the chance.

Instead, we seem to be living in an economy of the air, where the answer to every problem is “print more money.”

Then we have the other side, which recognizes only the economic well-being of the ultra-rich. I could write a whole column about the stupidity of Romney’s “47 percent” comment, and perhaps I will.

Let’s just say that after 22 years of employment in a public school system, I witness daily the struggles of the working poor. Romney doesn’t have a clue.

I like former Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich’s description of the former Massachusetts governor in the Baltimore Sun: “Romney is a lousy candidate, unable to connect with people or make his case.”

There is no way in the world I’d ever vote for Romney, which leads me back to my original conundrum — don’t vote or vote for someone I don’t believe in.

It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve voted negative. That is, cast my ballot for one candidate so another candidate wouldn’t win. I don’t like it, however, and I have wondered about the validity of this practice. It is practically effective, but is it philosophically right? Shouldn’t voters always act in the affirmative? I blame such thoughts on the fact that I hold a bachelor’s degree in political science.

In a 2010 article in the Michigan Law Review, Michael S. Kang, associate professor at Emory University School of Law, examined the concept of “voting as veto.”

When there are only two choices, he wrote, it doesn’t matter if the voter is acting with a positive or negative purpose. The result is the same. In fact, “negative preferences regularly motivate all types of voting decisions, and at times represent voters’ most meaningful preferences.”

Really? Well, at least I know I’m not alone. It pleases me to think that I can be proactive in this election, simply by voting against Romney. Or does it?

In a passionate article in Tikkun, editor and rabbi Michael Lerner laid out his reasons for not voting negative. He argues that voters don’t know what candidates will do once in office. Voting against candidates can be dispiriting, and weaken our faith in democracy.

Most interestingly: “Because liberals and progressives consistently accept the lesser evil argument, the Democratic Party focuses all of its energy on accommodating those who might otherwise vote Republican.”

Lerner wrote this piece before the 2000 election, and we all know how that turned out. I happily voted for Al Gore, but did my ballot even count?

I was disillusioned after that election, but not so cynical that I never voted again.

My obligations as a citizen were drilled into me at a very early age. “Don’t vote for Goldwater,” my father warned my second-grader self as I headed out to vote in the school’s mock election.

A vote is a terrible thing to waste, after all.

Liz Soares welcomes e-mails at [email protected]

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