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Fri Oct 19, 2012, 04:10 PM

Ken Burns:Why I am Voting for Barack Obama [View all]


One of my favorite movies of all time is Frank Capra's “It's A Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart. In the film, Stewart's character, a despondent and near suicidal George Bailey, who runs a small savings and loan in the town of Bedford Falls, is given a gift: the chance to see what his town would be like if he'd never been born — if he'd never extended a helping hand to his neighbors when they needed it most, never helped his community understand how much they depended upon one another.

In this alternative vision, the town's plutocratic banker, Mr. Potter — without the decent George Bailey to counter him — rules everything. A bottom-line-is-everything, every-man-for-himself mentality runs unchecked, resulting in Bedford Falls' metamorphosis into “Pottersville,” an amoral, soulless place.

The movie has a happy ending, thank goodness, but its themes endure to this day and echo in the current presidential election, which at its core asks the question: What kind of country are we? Are we Bedford Falls or Pottersville? Are we all in this together — and stronger and better because of it — or are we entirely on our own, with a few “makers” on the top of a heap of “takers?”

I'm supporting President Barack Obama because there is no question about his answer to that question. Having observed Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts, and then watching him in the Republican primaries as he tacked this way and that whenever it suited him (but mostly to the far right, the Tea Party radicals, even the birthers), I can't be sure of him.

As a student of American history, let me give some perspective. Much like Franklin Delano Roosevelt (one of the subjects of a new documentary series we are working on — if Romney doesn't get his way and PBS isn't eliminated), President Obama took office at a time when lax regulation of the financial industry had brought us to the brink of a complete collapse, creating an industry that needed nearly a trillion dollars in President Bush-authorized bailouts. He also inherited two off-the-books wars that had further ballooned our budget deficit, an auto industry on the verge of bankruptcy, and a loss of prestige in the international community.

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Reply Ken Burns:Why I am Voting for Barack Obama [View all]
Dalai_1 Oct 2012 OP
RiffRandell Oct 2012 #1
Dalai_1 Oct 2012 #8
Johonny Oct 2012 #2
nichomachus Oct 2012 #5
We People Oct 2012 #12
TlalocW Oct 2012 #3
Dawson Leery Oct 2012 #4
Cha Oct 2012 #6
Dalai_1 Oct 2012 #7
John2 Oct 2012 #9
We People Oct 2012 #11
PD Turk Oct 2012 #10
We People Oct 2012 #13