Tuesday, August 29, 2006
An important fact has to be remembered as we recall the victims of last year's devastating storms:
Almost half of all children in New Orleans lived in poverty -- before Hurricane Katrina.
The callous and inept federal response to Hurricane Katrina revealed that, when faced with a crisis that experts had actually predicted, the Republican administration was utterly unprepared and unresponsive.
Meanwhile, the shameful foot-dragging since the storm on reconstruction and help to families shows the same lack of interest in solving real problems and saving lives. So far, the administration has gotten around to spending barely half of what Congress authorized.
The Republican administration's failures before and after the storms are linked by a common approach to the solemn responsibilities of government. Simply put: they aren't interested.
This Republican leadership's philosophy means that our government simply will not meet the needs of our people.
Not because it's impossible -- but because they don't believe it should.
And so we are left with each American having to do what he or she can to help.
There is too much to be done for individuals acting alone to fix everything, but until we achieve a change in leadership we all must step up to the plate.
One way to do that is by donating new or used books to the Children's Defense Fund, an organization that's working to make sure that school libraries in Gulf Coast are well-stocked for returning students.
Only 18% of New Orleans children had returned by the end of the last school year, according to the New York Times. More children will return this year, but the conditions they will return to can be terrible.
I want to ask that you participate in a book drive for the children of the Gulf Coast. It's important, and it's a tangible way for you to make a difference:
While we all take time to reflect and do our small part to help, one thing is clear: Democrats offer a new direction.
We believe in a government that takes its obligations to the American people seriously, one that is always improving the services and protections it provides -- a government that becomes more efficient as it meets challenges and takes on new challenges with serious commitment.
And we believe passionately in the responsibility of public service -- doing the hard, unglamorous work that comes with solving real problems that impact people's lives.
With that sense of responsibility missing in our leaders today, we find ourselves in deep trouble.
A fifth grader interviewed by the New York Times recently -- one of the few who have made it back -- told the reporter that his father, who is in the National Guard, has been sent to the Middle East. Meanwhile, back on the home front, their house has been burglarized.
The boy summed up what people on the Gulf Coast -- and people all across the country -- are feeling right now:
"We deserve better."
Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
P.S. -- We've set up a resource center to help people learn more a year after Katrina. From the promises made and subsequently broken, to a look back at the failure of leadership on the levees in New Orleans, take a minute to explore just where we are one year later:
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