The promise of American opportunity

By George J. Mitchell,
Posted Sept. 26, 2008, at 8:57 p.m.

America has always been a beacon of hope and opportunity, where anyone who works hard can get ahead. That was certainly true for my family. My father was a janitor at Colby College and my mother worked in a textile mill after immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 18. They earned everything they got in life, and through their hard work and sacrifice they made a better life for our family.

It was people like them — our parents and grandparents — who built this state and country to give us all the opportunities we now enjoy. And it is this idea, that if you work hard and play by the rules you can get ahead, that is at stake in this election.

The collapse of Wall Street financial giants should be a harbinger of what is to come if the economic policies that leave behind ordinary Americans continue. Our country is only as strong as the ability of hardworking Americans to reach the middle-class dream of homeownership, a good job and the chance for one’s kids to get a good education. That dream has become more difficult to achieve over the past eight years, and Mainers are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. In looking toward November, I believe there is one candidate who, if elected, will work every day for the best interest of average Americans, and that leader is Barack Obama.

Barack comes from a humble background, and he knows how important it is to create opportunities for ordinary Americans. Barack’s story, like mine, is one that could only happen in America.

Barack’s father, like my mother, came to the United States looking for a better life. And his mother, like mine, worked hard to create a future of opportunity for her children. Barack understands the struggles that working families face because he lived them as a son of a single mom, and because he worked for years to help communities in Illinois that were devastated after their jobs were outsourced. He knows the value of a good education, because that is what has allowed him to make his own way in life. As president he will make sure Mainers don’t just get by, but get ahead with commonsense policies that support job creation, lower taxes for middle-class Americans and re-build the foundation of our economy.

Today, Mainers are working harder and longer, and trying hard and saving to get by, only to see jobs shipped overseas while the cost of heating their homes, buying groceries and getting to work continue to rise. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will ease the burden on Mainers with a $1,000 middle-class tax break for 95 percent of workers and their families. They’ll also help offset the high cost of home heating oil and gas with a $1,000 energy rebate for families. And they’ll get Washington back into the business of protecting the interests of average Americans so we can strengthen our economy and create good-paying jobs of the future.

Obama and Biden will support local economies by eliminating capital gains taxes on small businesses and start-ups, while lowering the cost of providing health care for employees. They will invest in energy that is made in America and end our dependence on oil from the Middle East once and for all. They will create good-paying jobs that cannot be out-sourced by investing in renewable energy production here at home like wind, solar and biofuels, and spurring a new energy economy. That’s the vision and leadership we need to build a secure future that we will be proud to pass on to the next generation.

We face tough challenges, but I believe that America’s future is bright. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will restore our country’s promise of opportunity for all Americans — because a country where the son of a janitor can become a senator and the child of a single mom can become president offers the greatest hope there is. It is this faith in the American dream that binds us together and that can and will prevail with Barack Obama as our next president.

George J. Mitchell is a former Senate majority leader and former U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland.

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/09/26/opinion/the-promise-of-american-opportunity/ printed on September 23, 2014