Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama Speaks to My Family

I watched the President's address to Congress last night with interest.

I am the mom of a Midwestern family filled with hard-working people. In our extended family are researchers, engineers, social workers, nurses, fire fighters, small business owners, moms, dads, students and teachers. We have a seriously ill relative who is underinsured. We have another relative who has retired on a state pension, drawn from a pension fund that is in serious trouble. Most of us have mortgages. Many of us are worried about our job security.

What part of last night's speech wouldn't apply to us?

I have written here before about my worry over the state of the economy, and specifically about responding to the economic crisis. I have been frustrated with the misuse of bank bailout funds and the national obsession with quick fixes. So, there was a lot to hold my attention last night.

I hoped to hear about banking and the auto industry in President Obama's speech. I am passionately committed to parental involvement in education, so my ears were open on that issue. I believe in taking personal responsibility for shaping one's future. I believe that hard work can do more for our country than legalistic maneuvering. ... I guess there was a lot I was listening for. I was not disappointed.

After hearing President Obama's speech last night, I will say -- he addressed a number of my concerns. And it was refreshing to be spoken to as citizens by someone who addresses his audience as adults. (And who uses vocabulary above the fourth grade level. I mean, he correctly used the word catalyzed in a sentence.)

Several parts of the President's speech were memorable and important. For example,

On education:
In a global economy, where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity. It is a prerequisite. ...

That is why this budget creates new teachers -- new incentives for teacher performance, pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We'll invest -- we'll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to
charter schools. ...

Dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself; it's quitting on your country. And this country needs and values the talents of every American. ...

In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent, for a mother or father who will attend those parent-teacher conferences, or help with homework, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to their child. I speak to you not just as a president, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home. That is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. That's an American issue.

On the auto industry:
Speaking of our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not and will not protect them from their own bad practices.

But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it; scores of communities depend on it; and I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.

On banking:

I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. ...

And to ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again, I ask Congress to move quickly on legislation that will finally reform our outdated regulatory system. ...

It is time to put in place tough, new commonsense rules of the road so that our financial market rewards drive and innovation and punishes shortcuts and abuse. ...

I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can't pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can't get a mortgage.

President Obama stated that the issue of healthcare reform would not wait -- that he would be assembling a panel of legislators, doctors, businesses and workers to discuss their healthcare reform needs and ideas. It is welcome news; I am happy there will be no delay on such an important issue.

As the President finished speaking, I had a renewed sense of confidence in his leadership. It is my hope that the Congress will follow through on his exhortation to get down to business and to do the hard work necessary to move the country forward.

The rest of us are working hard. Now, so should they.

- Midwest Mom


  1. That bit about parents' roles in education was overdue for someone in politics to state. I still love this man.
    I've tagged you!

  2. Great speech, great post! My feeling is that Obama is bringing positive energy into a negative environment for probably the first darn time in the history of politics. It may take awhile for some to realize that being fearful is negative, worry is negative, and all this negativity festers and grows. It takes a lot of positive energy to overcome the negatives out there - but I believe it can be done. So does Obama which I why I believe in him! Suzen

  3. Great post :) And same as you in our family we worry about many same things, I didn't watch it, but I'm glad you wrote about this :)

  4. Thanks for posting this because I did not get a chance to watch the speech last night.
    I like this President more and more every time he opens his mouth. That is a refreshing feeling. One I haven't had in my adult life.

  5. Great post. I am working on a post like this myself so it was great to read someone else's perspective!

  6. Great post! I'm still not quite used to an educated adult being in the Oval Office. ;) It's been so long since we had one! (Eight years of BushCo seemed like a couple of decades...) Like Firefly, I didn't watch the speech. Didn't have to. It made Repubs mad, so I knew it must've been full of things they don't want us Average Americans to have: education, affordable health care, jobs. I agree with suZen, Obama brings positive energy where before there was only fear and negativity. Repubs don't "get" that we're tired of being scared and fearful. We want to see forward (and upward) movement in this country again, not coddling the already rich on our dime and our backs!


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