O’Brien campaigns in Cass for CongressPublished 9:53am Thursday, April 26, 2012
CASSOPOLIS — Mindful of “formidable” U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, a “titan in Washington,” but undeterred, Sixth Congressional District candidate Mike O’Brien asked Saturday, “How does a politician his entire adult life, a quarter of a century, now hyperventilate that government is the problem?”
O’Brien said at Cass County Democratic headquarters over hot dogs and chips the district supported President Obama, Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
“Money can’t vote or win elections,” he said. “Only people can carry passion into the ballot box and vote” Nov. 6. ”If we want change in Washington, D.C., it’s up to us. Our country has survived 300 years, beat back a depression, won world wars, put a man on the moon and championed civil rights. That’s not broken government, it’s failed leadership by people at the top.”
As “the oldest son of a single mother” who worked two to three jobs to “keep us in a good public school, yet plenty of times the ends didn’t meet, when we needed help, we turned to America — programs put in place that literally put food on our table. I’ll never forget that. I knew I was receiving gifts and that we have obligations as Americans. I understood where the big block of cheese came from.”
O’Brien started working at 14, cutting grass, selling newspapers and pumping gas.
He joined the Marines and served with Reconnaissance, the Corps’ special operations branch. He married his high school sweetheart, Teresa, who accompanied him.
O’Brien, of Douglas, works for Herman Miller in Holland, “pay my taxes, drop to my knees in church on Sunday and I own guns. I hunt and fish. I am exactly a product of this country. I stand for hard work, looking out for others and treating people with respect. These shared values are the foundation of our country.
“Fred went to Washington about the time I went into the Marine Corps. He no longer serves us, in my opinion, when they play political games with the Highway and Transportation Bill and Michigan jobs. His ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy has three things — drill more, reduce regulations on oil companies and build a pipeline. That’s not a comprehensive policy. Everything is about jobs, which are also a moral issue. Let’s bring them back here from overseas and create jobs tied to the energy economy of the future. Fred and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum because I talk about ‘re-incenting’ and simplify and make fair tax policies that send jobs overseas and think about farming and tourism as well as manufacturing. Add renewables like wind turbines and solar panels.”
When he worked for a trucking company in Holland, O’Brien lived a dream of building a successful family farm, “but, like so many Americans, we lost it in the Bush economic collapse.
“Let’s continue to open foreign markets, but also promote small farms, diversify what they grow and sell healthy produce into our schools. Tourism is a major economic engine in this region and tied to the environment with lakes and beaches.
“We’ve been entrusted with a Garden of Eden to protect. Government is bloated and needs to be streamlined and made more nimble, but don’t take an ax to something that needs a scalpel. We all use programs like highways, bridges, clean water, safe food and aviation every day. Everyone needs to pay their fair share.”