By Krista Wettengel
For the last six weeks or so, I have spoken directly to the Rider community on the key issues of this presidential election: the economy, health care, energy, education and the war in Iraq. By now it is clear where my political loyalties lie: by virtue of an absentee ballot, I have already cast my vote for Sen. Barack Obama for president of the United States of America. Hopefully, I have clearly articulated where Obama stands on the issues. His positions are the major reasons why I voted for him, but another factor is simply history.
The United States is at a crossroads, much like in 1932, when many of our grandparents were suffering through the Great Depression. The causes of the Depression were numerous and complex, but one factor was the stock market crash of 1929. Up to that point, the U.S. financial system was a giant house of cards — vast fortunes tied up in paper, over-inflated stocks and corporate greed. Times were great, then the house fell apart. Sound familiar?
In the 1932 presidential election, Americans had a choice to make. They could vote for the current president, Republican Herbert Hoover, who many felt had not responded adequately to the economic crisis. Or, they could vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat who promised a “New Deal” for the American people. Ultimately, the people chose Roosevelt, and he did not let them down. He worked to place much needed regulations on the banking system, implemented public works projects to help stimulate the economy and created the Social Security program. Roosevelt steered the country through its darkest economic hour and through World War II, and he is thus considered one of our greatest presidents.
In 2008, our country is facing another crossroads. We are in the midst of a financial meltdown and a war with no end in sight. Americans once again have a choice to make. They can vote for Republican Sen. John McCain, whose erratic behavior since the financial collapse has led many Americans to doubt his ability to handle the crisis. Or, Americans can vote for Barack Obama, the Democrat promising the nation a new deal of his own.
For 21 months now, Obama has criss-crossed the nation telling people his life story and inspiring hope for a brighter tomorrow. He has been described as having a first-class political temperament, infused with just the right blend of pragmatism and foresight. He believes in the free market, but, like FDR, recognizes the need for regulation. Modern capitalism is designed to produce profit, not equality — the latter is the job of government.
Even though John McCain was alive in the 1930s, he does not seem to know his history. In a striking resemblance to Herbert Hoover, McCain declared not long ago that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Meanwhile, unemployment is rising rapidly, home foreclosures are skyrocketing and people are losing their life savings. This is not an illusion — the sky really is falling. It took a Democrat, dare I say, a liberal, to dig the country out of an economic crisis in the 1930s. It is going to take another Democrat to guide us through this dark time now.
So with my parting words, I beg all of you to get to the polls on Tuesday. The stakes cannot be higher for our future, for our country and for the world. George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” History is screaming at us, and its words are crystal clear: vote Obama.