Friday, January 18, 2008

Nevada's Largest Newspaper Endorses Obama

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada's largest newspaper, endorsed Barack Obama earlier this week and ran this thought-provoking editorial this morning. While much of the discussion of Obama's campaign has centered on his appeal to youth voters, the authors explore how his vision for the country resonates among older Americans.

Jan. 18, 2008

Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Obama will renew faith in federal programs:
Older Americans know we need collective safety net



Older Americans are destined to be one of Barack Obama's strongest constituencies.

Obama has not yet done as well with voters 65 and over as he has with younger ones. And there's not a lot of difference between Sens. Obama, Clinton and Edwards when it comes to "senior" issues, such as Social Security and Medicare. Nevertheless, we believe older Americans should and will gravitate to Obama. Here's why:

Of all voters, Obama's themes resonate best among the old. Identical to younger Americans, senior citizens do not wish to be set aside; neither can the nation afford to lose their energy and skills. Obama's call to civic engagement is consistent with the creation of a new, more vibrant old age for those who seek new adventures and new opportunities to strengthen America.

Moreover, Obama's message of unity, inclusiveness and hope speak loudest to senior citizens. Older Americans have experienced first hand what collective action can do for our nation and the world, and how hope is the only antidote to despair.

In the 1950s and the 1960s, today's seniors witnessed the Civil Rights movement that captured the conscience of the nation and took us closer to the founders' belief that all of us are created equal, an ideal that says that anyone of our citizens, man, woman, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, can be elected president of the United States.

Today's oldest Americans, those who lived through the Great Depression, know an additional truth, as well. They know that events beyond one's control can shake the foundations of life. The economy can disintegrate; a parent can die leaving dependent children; a worker can become disabled, ill, or can retire and outlive one's savings.

Older Americans recognize that the best solution to these problems of life is collective action, in the form of insurance. This recognition of the power of unity and collective action is what led to the enactment of Social Security and Medicare. They are the values that underlie those programs today.
These programs thrive today because politicians and citizens of other times wisely understood that we are at our best, as individuals, families, communities and as a nation:

-- When we understand that we are "all in it together."

-- When we accept that the moral quality of a society is determined not by the wars we start, but by how, in the words of Hubert Humphrey, the society treats "those who are in the dawn of life (the children); the twilight of life (the elderly); and the shadows of life (the sick, the needy and the handicapped)."

-- When we take up common cause to care for ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our community,

-- And when government responds with practical, dignified, secure and efficient means for hard-working Americans to protect their children, families and their communities.

The politics of the past few decades has been unusually divisive. Consistent with these politics, Social Security has been cynically used as a wedge issue, seeking to pit generations against each other by arguing that Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable and undermining the well-being of future generations.

But the "What's-in-it-for-me" attitude of Washington does not reflect everyday Americans; grandparents care about the well-being of their grandchildren and vice versa.

In rejecting Red States/Blue States, White/Black dichotomies, Obama moves the nation away from those who would drive a wedge between young and old.
Obama intuitively embraces the promise of American democracy and the hope for a better future for all Americans, in a way that no other candidate today does.

Support for Obama will grow among older persons because they understand, better than any of us, the need for unity and hope. Like all Americans, they have a stake in creating a legacy of peace, prosperity and opportunity for their children, grandchildren and those who follow.

Nancy Altman, author of "The Battle for Social Security: From FDR's Vision to Bush's Gamble" (Wiley, 2005) was Alan Greenspan's top assistant when he chaired the 1982 commission that developed the Social Security Amendments of 1983. Eric Kingson, professor of social work and public administration at Syracuse University, served as adviser to the Greenspan commission, and, in 1994, to the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. Contact them at and