Editorial: Power of a positive message
President Barack Obama inspired Vermonters last Friday with a stem-winder of a 30-minute campaign speech that reminded the 4,500 in attendance about the political power of unity.
Advocating for fair taxes, expanded health care, a push for higher education and a nation that looks after each other, Obama made the case that the nation was stronger when everyone is pulling for each other.
“We are greater together than on our own,” Obama said. “This country advances when we keep that basic American promise – that if you work hard you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, put a little away for retirement. And it doesn’t matter who you are and what you look like.”
He contrasted that political outlook with the Republican perspective that is advocating “tax breaks for the wealthiest individuals in America – even if it means adding to the deficit, or gutting education or Medicare. Their philosophy is simple. You are on your own… That’s the cramped, narrow conception of liberty they have… and they are wrong.”
He noted that the hard fiscal reality meant that for every tax break the government gives to a wealthy individual or to a corporation, it either adds to the deficit or hurts a program that is helping someone in need.
“When someone like me gets a tax break, and that the country can’t afford, then one of two things are going to happen. Either it adds to our deficit, or we’re taking something away from somebody else.”
While the president primarily focused on the message of hope, as he did throughout this 2008 campaign, he also used the politics of fear to suggest that the nation couldn’t afford to slide backwards by electing a Republican to the White House.
The choice facing Americans, he says, is “a choice between slow, steady change or going backward.” Claiming four million new jobs and an accelerating recovery, he argued that “the last thing we can do is go back to the policies that got us in this mess.”
“Either folks like me start doing more, or somebody who can’t afford it is getting less,” he said. “And that’s not right. That’s not who we are.”
Recalling the disaster facing the nation when he first took office in Jan. 2009, he cited some of his accomplishments, including: averting another Great Depression, rescuing the auto industry, repealing the discrimination of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” overhauling health care, ending the war in Iraq, nominating two women to the Supreme Court and taking out Osama bin Laden, not to mention two years of steady employment growth and 3.5 million new jobs.
He has also helped pass equal pay for equal work legislation, raising future fuel efficiency standards, eliminating “taxpayer giveaways to the banks for processing student loans,” and the progress that has already been made on the health care front regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on the mandate to require the purchase of insurance. “No one will go broke just because they get sick. Already 2.5 million young people have health insurance who didn’t have it before. Already millions of seniors are paying less for their prescription drugs because of this law. Already Americans can’t be denied coverage from their insurance companies when they need care the most. They’re getting preventive care they didn’t have before. That’s happening right now.”
Tackling the Republicans on their home turf on moral values, he issued a direct challenge.
“Let me tell you about values,” he said. “Hard work, personal responsibility, those are values. Looking out for one another, that’s a value. ‘We’re all in this together,’ ‘I am my brother’s keeper,’ that’s a value.
“The idea that we think about the next generation, and we’re taking care of our planet, that’s a value.”
It was a speech and an event that gave those in attendance new hope and inspiration, and reminded us all of the power of a positive message.
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