My Choice: A Nation of Neighbors


Belmont, VT.: Greeting Independence Day Parade 6/30/12

          I have been an Barack Obama supporter only since he won the Democratic nomination in 2008.

           In critical areas, I underestimated how much he could accomplish, running the highly complex organisation that is the Federal government.  For instance, he has run a clean shop. The first Obama Administration has not suffered a scandal.  No administration back to Jimmy Carter could say that.

           His stimulus package put people to work and kept people – particularly in schools and government agencies – at their jobs.  Yes, it should have been bigger, more permanent.  But, Obama saw the problem and addressed it.

           So, too, with Obamacare.  He succeeded where his Democratic predecessors failed: Clinton, Johnson, Truman.

          Obamacare shows the President understands two words essential to running a country in the 21st century: ‘risk’ and ‘insurance’.

          The best way to deal with the risks of everyday life – fire, illness, theft, casualty, etc. – is risk spreading.  Some people will need the help; some won’t.  That’s how insurance works.  And all benefit by mitigating the ripple effects of loss.

           The same is true for healthcare – at every stage of life – and of the care of the elderly.  Like suicide which rarely kills just one, lack of healthcare insurance seldom affects only the sick.  And then there are the societal costs – the costs and inefficiencies of emergency room primary care, the large expenses of failing to catch problems early….

           A Nobel Prize winning economist has called the Federal government an insurance company with an army.  At no time do I see the need for both than in times of national disaster.

           I saw first hand what well-administered government could accomplish in the wake of Hurricane Irene.  Shortly after Vermont Rte. 9 opened, we headed to Boston.  Between Bennington and Brattleboro, we saw upwards of 500 people – federal, state, county, local and private workers – cleaning up and fixing.

           I saw FEMA officials cheered at meetings weeks after the storm passed.

           If President Obama had accomplished little more than that, he would have merited re-election.  It is a sign of a return to government competence despite budget cuts that have strangled or wiped out important services.

           And so I am asking you to vote tomorrow for Barack Obama for President.  I am also asking my friends in Ohio to vote for Sherrod Brown and in Massachusetts for Elizabeth Warren for US Senators.

           They stand for my aspiration, that America should be a nation of neighbors, not a genus of jackals locked in desperate competitive scavenging.  That is the choice of vision tomorrow.

           Abraham Lincoln closed his First Innaugural Address (1861) with this:

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

We are the Union.  We must elect people who believe in it.

 Peter D. Kinder

Nov. 5, 2012