Tim Kaine is the Democratic National Committee chairman and governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010.
In 2008, Americans voted for change—for a Democratic president and Congress that would put the needs of middle-class families above special-interest priorities. Now Americans are again taking stock of their leaders. They are asking: What do we have to show for the last two years? The answer: quite a bit.
President Obama and Democrats in Congress stopped the health insurance industry's worst practices. As a result, no child can be denied insurance because of asthma and no mother's insurance will be rescinded because of breast cancer. They ended billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to student-loan companies, redirecting that money to college students and universities. Now more American students can pursue a college degree. They stopped taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street and enacted new legislation to protect families from unscrupulous lending practices by banks and credit card companies. As a result, our economy is more stable and American families' finances are better protected.
Those achievements are historic. Yet people remain unsatisfied and, with millions of hard-working Americans unable to find a job, that is justified. But voters would be mistaken to blame Democrats for America's economic woes.
After nearly a decade of failed GOP leadership plunged America into economic chaos, Democrats stepped forward to pull America back from the brink of a second Great Depression, put millions of people to work through Recovery Act projects, and enacted tax cuts for 95 percent of working Americans and for small businesses across the country. And Democrats did so not only without GOP assistance but in the face of explicitly partisan obstructionism.
In fact, while congressional Democrats took vote after vote on the basic financial reforms needed to rebuild our economy, empower and protect consumers, and lay a solid foundation for growth, congressional Republicans held strategy sessions with Wall Street lobbyists, devising new ways to defeat or delay those reforms.
Indeed, if Republicans win this fall's elections, they have made it clear that they will pursue the same wrongheaded policies that got America into an economic mess in the first place. They want to roll back the regulations that are reining in Wall Street's dangerous gambles and mortgage America's future by taking out a $700 billion loan to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
So the question this Election Day is: Do we continue to move forward with Democrats or go backward with Republicans?
If we choose Democrats, they will continue to turn the economy around, lay a foundation for long-term growth, and empower Americans to succeed. They will ensure that America is as strong and prosperous in the 21st century as in the 20th. If we choose Republicans, we risk more of the disastrous economic policies that cost millions of Americans their jobs and a future that looks a lot worse for the average American.
The future of our country will, quite literally, be written by the men and women we send to Congress this year. This is our chance to choose who they are, what kind of laws they will write, and what kind of future they will give us.
Our choice will affect the well-being of every American—the educational opportunities available to our children, the economic opportunities available to our businesses and workers, and the outlook for American prosperity. So the stakes are high. This year, it is incredibly important that we ensure President Obama has the Democratic allies he needs in Congress to keep America moving forward.
Read why Democrats should not retain control of Congress, by Michael Steele, Republican National Committee chairman and lieutenant governor of Maryland from 2003 to 2007.