Opinion: Look for the helpers

Photo of Polling place volunteers assisting voters with voting documents

(SDI Productions/Getty Images)

By Mary Vitcenda

April 22, 2024

In this opinion piece, Wisconsin resident Mary Vitcenda urges voters to vote in line with their values and “look for the helpers” as they cast their ballot.

Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Fred Rogers, of course, was Mr. Rogers, the host of a beloved children’s show on PBS. I thought of his words recently as I compared the records and plans of President Biden and Donald Trump for governing (or not governing). I’m focusing on the federal level here, and I’m omitting detail in the fervent hope that you search out more information yourself from credible sources. That said, I urge you to look at the following issues, and others, through Mr. Rogers’ eyes before voting in national, state, and local elections.

The economy: Under President Biden’s leadership, Congressional Democrats have enacted policies that are creating jobs, increasing wages, and making needed investments in our economy. They have lifted the economy almost back to pre-pandemic levels. As the economy improves and the Fed makes sound decisions on interest rates, inflation should decrease. In fact, it’s already cooling.

As for Trump and MAGA Republicans in Congress, they continue to promote the failed trickle-down tactic of tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy. Trump also supports isolationist ideas that would raise prices and hurt consumers.

Access to affordable health care: President Biden and Congressional Democrats have lowered the cost of prescription drugs. His administration also has worked to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance by the millions, and it supports measures to protect women’s access to reproductive health care.

Conversely, Trump continues to say he would eliminate Obamacare. He claims to favor more access to abortion services than extreme states but continues to brag about appointing the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade.

Immigration reform: President Biden and Democratic lawmakers recently worked with Republican lawmakers to craft a bipartisan bill that would provide resources to secure the southern border and restrict the flow of asylum seekers when necessary.

You’d think Republicans would support this bill, given some GOP lawmakers helped develop it. But Trump told Congressional Republicans to oppose the bill because he wants to keep whining about the border instead of solving problems.

Rule of law and voter protection: President Biden and Democrats support the rule of law, including the peaceful transfer of power between presidential elections. They also believe all eligible voters should have access to the ballot box. And they want the United States to stay in the alliance of democratic nations and uphold the principles our forebears fought for in World War II.

On the other hand, Trump shows a strange affinity to Vladimir Putin, who definitely is no friend of democracy. Trump also worked mightily to overturn the 2020 election by instigating the violent January 6th attack on the Capitol and by advancing a fake elector scheme and other tricks.

I ask that you compare the approaches of these two candidates and decide which one most closely matches your values when you vote this year. And please think of Mr. Rogers’ advice to “Look for the helpers” as you cast your ballot.

Related: Prescription drugs are getting cheaper for seniors thanks to Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act


  • Mary Vitcenda

    Mary Vitcenda is a native of northwest Wisconsin who left the state at age 9 for Minnesota, where she lived for decades. She returned to her childhood home in Wisconsin in 2018 after retiring as a writer and editor for various Twin Cities organizations.

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