I live in New York City. Currently, over a half million people in the city are without power and many are starting to run out of the food and water they stocked up before the storm. Our subway suffered the most severe damage in a century, with water literally up to the ceiling of several stations. And, though it’s hard to imagine, the damage in parts of New Jersey and elsewhere is far, far worse.
Individuals all over the eastern seaboard are pitching in and helping out their neighbors, but crises like these are bigger than individuals alone can address. That is why, in their infinite wisdom, our Founding Fathers founded a nation, the way we pool our resources for the common good. And this is why I will vote for President Obama, the only candidate who will ensure that in moments like this, in moments of great crisis and need, our government is strong and effective and ready to respond.
The political class has been fixated on budget cutting and deficit reduction, but spending that can seem expendable on paper is self-evidently vital when disaster strikes. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would cut 40% of FEMA spending and disaster relief. On paper, that is just an abstract number. In lower Manhattan, that’s 40% fewer water pumps to clear our streets and fewer generators to keep hospitals running.
Republicans like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie value the role of government in helping Americans when they can’t help themselves. “It’s been very good working with the President,” Christie said, praising President Obama’s leadership in responding to Hurricane Sandy.
But Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to eviscerate government — ultimately gutting 91% of all government spending — not in order to lower the deficit or even cut taxes for the middle class, but to give more tax breaks to the very rich. Their extreme anti-government ideology flies in the face of the very real needs of communities across the United States, whether they’re underwater because of a storm or the housing market collapse or high unemployment.
Yes, I am voting for President Obama because of what he has achieved. When President Obama took office, the country was losing 800,000 jobs per month. Under his leadership, the economy has created 5.2 million private sector jobs — still not as many as we need, but unquestionable progress getting us out of the hole Republican policies dug us into. And the president saved America’s auto industry and the jobs of over a million autoworkers.
The president passed historic legislation built on a Republican model to end insurance company abuses and provide affordable, quality health insurance to over 30 million Americans who otherwise would go to emergency rooms and pass the bill on to all of us.
President Obama cut taxes for 95% of Americans, spurring economic spending and helping us all weather the recession. President Obama doubled funding for Pell Grants, to help more poor and middle class Americans succeed in the 21st century economy. And the President ended the war in Iraq, and is ending the war in Afghanistan, so that we can focus on much-needed nation building right here at home.
But I am also voting for Barack Obama because of what he believes. John Adams wrote, “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men.” Barack Obama believes government can’t solve every problem but is not the source of all our problems either. America is still a great nation to start a business and raise a family because America is a nation — because we pull together for the common good, because we are more than the sum of our parts.
This fundamental compact of our nation is threatened by Mitt Romney and the Tea Party. Sadly, there are many things we don’t know about Romney — where he really stands on reproductive freedom and Iran and climate change. But we do know that — whether it’s turning Medicare into a voucher system and raising costs for future generations of seniors or privatizing Social Security or giving more tax cuts to the already-rich even though they don’t create jobs — Mitt Romney represents an agenda that gives handouts to big business and billionaires while telling struggling poor and middle class families that you’re on your own.
President Obama wants to ensure all of us have a shot at the American Dream — that our public schools, our health care system, our safety nets and our economy work just as well for your kids whether you’re rich or poor or somewhere in the middle, that the American Dream can never be downsized or shipped to China.
And when disaster strikes, whether it’s the storms of nature or poverty or a terrorist attack, President Obama will ensure our government is there not to get in the way but to help. Through the most trying of times, from when the walls of Wall Street came crashing down to when our forces crashed through the walls of Abbottabad, President Obama has been a strong leader for a strong nation — upholding the very best of our values and offering the best promise for our future. I hope you will join me in support President Barack Obama on November 6th.
Sally Kohn joined the Fox News Channel in 2012 as a contributor.