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November 05, 2012

Don’t reward GOP obstructionists

By Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
Weekly Commentary | Chicago Sun-Times

Tuesday is Election Day. Please make certain that you vote. In the close presidential election, it is clear that every vote counts — and we must ensure that every vote is counted.

I believe President Barack Obama has earned our vote for his re-election. He has served with intelligence and dignity. His loving family is a model for the country. He inherited the worst conditions of any president since Franklin Roosevelt: the worst recession since the Great Depression; a global financial system on the brink of collapse; two unfunded wars; a trillion-dollar deficit. And he has led us through the challenges.

Many people are still unemployed, but the U.S. is doing better than virtually all of its competitors.

Great Britain and Europe implemented harsh conservative austerity programs — cutting spending and raising taxes — and are back in recession. Obama’s Recovery Act has been scorned, but it added more than 2 million jobs, provided help for those who lost their jobs and made vital investments in infrastructure and clean energy while putting people to work. Its shortcoming — that it was too small — was in part a product of Republican opposition.

Obama understands that there are times when effective government can and should help. That is why he stepped up — against the advice of many of his advisers and, famously, of Mitt Romney — to save the auto industry and the millions of jobs connected to it. That is why he enacted reforms that already have begun to slow the rise of health-care costs while providing affordable care to millions of Americans.

And then there are the stark contrasts between the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. After Sandy hit, a revitalized Federal Emergency Management Agency acted with dispatch, with the president personally on the case.

On foreign policy, Obama moved to bring the two wars to an end while refocusing on al-Qaida. He made the call to hit Osama bin Laden, against the advice of many aides — including his vice president. Faced with the same call, George Bush chose not to act.

Obama put together the coalition that eventually helped the Libyan people free themselves of a dictator without entangling the U.S. in another war. He has put the U.S. on the side of democracy in the tumultuous Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

And now he has wisely called for focusing our nation-building efforts here at home, rather than in the far corners of the world.

Obama’s steadiness stands in contrast to the shifting positions of his opponent. Romney has been consistent only in demanding a repeal of Obama’s vital reforms: He would revoke health-care reform; repeal Wall Street reform, and oppose the American Jobs Act. Romney is the candidate from finance and for finance, with little sense of the struggles or the strategies needed for those he scorns as “the 47 percent.”

Many pundits suggest that Republicans will retain their majority in the House of Representatives. In the past two weeks, big money has flooded in to protect vulnerable incumbents.

This would be a perverse result. The Republicans in Congress are held in record high disregard by Americans, and they have earned every bit of it.

It has been reported that they set out before Obama even took office to obstruct him across the board, to limit him to one term.

With the country in one of the worst economic crises in its history, they practiced an unprecedented partisan obstruction rather than patriotic cooperation.

They should not be rewarded for that record.