Vail Valley Voices: The leader America needs now |

Vail Valley Voices: The leader America needs now

Matthew Kennedy
Vail, CO, Colorado

The 2012 election is about more than politics and parties. It also is about the moderate majority, plus the future that the post-2000 generation will grow, thrive and retire in.

It is about a generation of Americans who earned college degrees thinking they would find study-linked work shortly after graduating instead discovering there are 50 to 150 applicants for the most basic of positions (not to mention degree-related opportunities where candidates can number in the thousands).

It is about a generation of individuals who each owe several thousand dollars in student loans, yet cannot make payments due to the worst unemployment climate since the Great Depression.

It is about the law student who completed her JD thinking she would earn a law firm position, only to find employment as a barista; the insurance agent who was laid off in mid-2008 and cannot find work; the factory workers who were released after the company decided they could increase profits by reducing overhead via relocating to China, India, the Philippines or Costa Rica.

The 2012 election is about several generations who yearn to live the American dream, yet are deprived the opportunity currently due to circumstances beyond their control, circumstances forced upon them by society’s decisions and attitudes developed over several decades and by the greed of a few at the cost of the majority.

The 2012 election requires the American people to select a leader who can emphasize and appreciate the challenges many generation X, Y and baby boomers are experiencing. It mandates someone who has witnessed the burden of seemingly endless student loans, who wasn’t born into the upper class and has witnessed similar hardships and joys as the moderate majority.

It requires someone with the mettle to make risky decisions, knowing they could have politically dire consequences if failure results, who can admit errors and has a long-term vision, even if it mandates short- to medium-term hardships.

The candidate with those characteristics is President Obama.

President Obama can appreciate the challenges and hardships facing the middle and lower classes. He finished law school owing several thousand dollars in student loans, a burden he relinquished shortly upon entering the White House.

Obama has the resolve the country needs, the long-term vision required and the integrity vital to leading the nation out of the Great Recession.

The president has illustrated these characteristics on various occasions. He admitted in a news conference shortly after the 2010 election that the decision to continue the second Bush administration’s bailouts of financially teetering firms such as AIG placed him and the Democratic Party in a no-win situation – a situation in which a severe depression would probably have ensued if the aforementioned policies were discontinued, yet allowed opponents to critique his decision as excessive government intervention.

The president is simultaneously under no illusions that the country’s socio-economic-political issues require solutions mandating more than four years to implement.

The president has the rare quality in Washington to admit mistakes – and to take risks where failure can have severe political consequences. For instance, shortly after the 2010 elections, Obama acknowledged the health care bill had provisions mandating a reassessment and rewriting. He had the audacity to challenge health care’s special interests, knowing the fight to win passage – let alone craft legislation – would entail an unprecedented steadfastness. It was a challenge other administrations had undertaken and failed. Obama knew the long-term rewards for the American people were worth the necessary battle, and he prevailed.

We live in a time of transition, when divisiveness permeates the American political scene – and where the direction the country pursues after Nov. 6 will shape the nation’s future for several decades.

We live in a time when millions of people are hurting and the natural tendency is to blame Washington for the nation’s woes.

What we as an electorate must contemplate is whether it’s really our leaders’ fault or is it we who granted Washington the latitude to formulate policies placing the country in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression?

Did we not adopt an attitude of blame instead of self-responsibility that seeped into Washington’s culture?

If there is any one person who understands these issues and can provide a vision to place the country in a better economic position then before the country entered the Great Recession at its conclusion, it is President Obama.

He understands the middle and lower classes’ plights. The president has the nerve the country needs. Obama also has the long-term vision the nation requires.

If there were ever a time when so much was at stake and the nation required a leader who could furnish a direction benefiting future generations, it is now. And President Obama is that individual.

Matthew Kennedy has a master’s degree in diplomatic studies from the University of Westminster in London. He’s lived in Europe, Asia and Russia. Comments or questions can be directed to

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