Why I support Obama
Some of my conservative friends have asked me why I believe so strongly in the Democratic party and Barack Obama.
I was raised during the Great Depression on my Mom and Dad’s dairy farm in Sonoma, and I remember what they and their friends talked about, how much faith they placed in Franklin Roosevelt and what he was trying to do for our nation in such troubled times. We were the lucky ones, because our farm provided us with the necessaries of life.
My older brother, Melvin, and I agree that, this period in our life was a happy time. We enjoyed doing things that our present generation would probably give up their middle-class luxuries to have. Money for us kids was never all that big a problem. We would raid the city disposal site for parts, and all the necessary materials needed to make anything we could use for fun.
There was no middle class during this time period; there were only the rich and the poor. Going to the Sebastiani Theatre was our special treat, and the newsreels, in between movies, were our 6 o’clock news. As a youngster, I was dumbfounded at how the wealthy had time to play golf, water ski and go snow skiing in the High Sierra, and still do all the chores that were needed for survival.
President Roosevelt gave us hope for a better life, and tried hard with many New Deal government programs. It wasn’t easy, and no one expected that it could be done overnight, or in one presidential term. The new programs were not the total solution, but they gave us dignity and the confidence that, with hard work and help from our government, we could overcome any obstacle that came along.
It was not until WWII (which was a large stimulus package) that the Great Depression was finally broken. However, with the war came fear and anxiety; watching my older brothers go to war was traumatic. I saw Ma cry many times wondering where her boys and other relatives could be, and if they were all right. It was during this time that I learned the importance of religion. My belief in God and my Catholic faith gave me a crutch that I could lean on for the rest of my life.
President Roosevelt enacted many programs during the great depression, but Social Security and the GI Bill of Rights are the two that stand out most for me. It was during the debates on Social Security that I first heard the words “socialism,” “communism,” “taxes” and a few other derogatory terms that cannot be mentioned here. I am not going to repeat arguments for or against Social Security because, in my opinion, the benefits and popularity of this program are beyond reproach, and now even the worst enemies of this program claim to be it’s defenders. WOW!
I wonder if the same thing will happen when the Affordable Health Care Act also becomes the third rail of politics. This also applies to the GI Bill, although it is my opinion that this program, enacted for our veterans, is the greatest single piece of legislation that our nation has enacted towards establishing our middle class. Not just for economic reasons, but because it was the right thing to do for our returning veterans.
During the Great Depression, there was neither the time nor the finances needed to make higher education possible for veterans at the lower income level. This was something special that only the wealthy could afford. After the GI Bill, our veterans became doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, administrators – you name it. Prior to this law, it was impossible for our young generation to achieve such goals.
It was money well spent, and the taxes spent for these programs went far to improve the standard of living for all our citizens.
Conservative Republicans are rallying to the battle cry of “no new taxes” and zero tax increases for the wealthy. But taxes should not be held in ill-repute just for political gain, as long as they are fair and necessary. Without taxes there would be no schools, national and state parks, freeways, dams for flood control and irrigation and many other projects for everyone to enjoy.
I heard Pa say many times, “Republicans are the party of the rich.”
But the Republican party was not always this way. During Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, Republicans were considered progressive. It was during this period that national health insurance was first debated.
A conservative friend of mine, who I dearly miss, once told me, after I asked him why he supported Ronald Reagan, “because he makes me feel good.” At first this statement sounded incongruous to me, until I realized that was exactly how we felt about Franklin Roosevelt.
President Roosevelt gave us confidence, respect and pride in ourselves, he taught us we should not have to hold our hat in hand when asking for help to feed our children, or because we become sick.I support Barack Obama because, like Franklin Roosevelt, he makes me feel good and gives me confidence in the future, and that he will do his best to fulfill the American dream.
I believe that he, and first lady Michelle, are great Americans and great parents, and that Obama will do his best to achieve his policies because they are good for our nation and the right thing to do. Remember, we could all become part of the 47 percent.
Jerry Giorgi is a Napa resident who was born and raised in Sonoma and started his career in the newspaper business at The Sonoma Index Tribune.