For me, there has been no image more inspiring, more emblematic of America at her best than that of two leaders [Chris Christie and Barack Obama] collaborating without artifice for the greater good.
As we look forward to the end of this campaign, I can also think of no image that better encapsulates why I’m a Democrat and why on Tuesday I will without reservation, second thoughts, or misgivings, cast my ballot for Barack Obama. It is also the image that Barack Obama wanted to be emblematic of his presidency, and but for the determined, unyielding, scorched earth, hostage taking of the extremists in today’s GOP, it would have been the emblem of his presidency. Apparently, it takes an act of God to break through the demonization of the president and make us realize we are all in this together.
Sandy puts a human face on budget-cutting talk. Republicans proudly brag about the size of the cuts they’re willing to make to the budget. They crow about hard choices and hard truths. Governor Romney, for his part, has proposed cutting spending to less than 20% of GDP. All that tough talk sounds great until you’re faced with the real world consequences of their budget cutting bluster. Try looking into the eyes of people who have just lost all their possessions, and possibly a loved one, and telling them there is no help for them because of budget cuts. Try telling them the highway that takes them to work will not be rebuilt. Try telling them that they are on their own.
Romney’s proposed cuts would hack FEMA aid by 40%, not to mention what it would do to programs aimed at helping the poorest among us, all while refusing to raise a penny in extra revenue. Hurricane damage is estimated to be $50 billion or more. The entire budget of the state of New Jersey in 2012 was just under $30 billion. Try telling Jersey to fix its own problems on the state and local level.
I am reminded of Bill Clinton at the DNC, framing this election as a choice between “we’re all in this together” and “you’re on your own.” Following a crisis, we cannot help but be reminded that no matter how justifiably proud we are of our individual initiative and pioneering spirit, there is no avoiding the fact that we share this Earth and this land. You can move to the middle of the desert in Nevada, Ron Paul country, off the power grid with your own water well, but when Mother Nature rips the desert in two with an earthquake or washes away your possessions right down to the last Gadsden flag in a 100-year flood, it’s your fellow citizens who will come to your rescue. Christie and Obama remind me that, try as we might to wall ourselves off, we are truly in this together. I am a Democrat because we’re in this together.
Our political debate is not between big government and small government. It’s between a Democratic party that supports effective government properly funded and based on compromise and a GOP extremist vision of minimalist government that leaves you on your own and holds low taxes as its only sacred ideal.
The words that vaulted Barack Obama into the national spotlight were about how we’re not red states and blue states, but the United States of America. We were hungry for those words, and we still are. I believe that we are better when we work together, that we are our brother and our sister’s keeper, that good, effective government is possible and necessary and that’s why I will be voting for Barack Obama this Tuesday, Nov. 6.