Sen. Barack Obama is—above all, perhaps—a source of inspiration. He is the first leader of our generation who has had the presence and politics necessary to kindle something that died in many Americans: Interest. Empowerment. Hope. Not since the days of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. has a political figure so captivated national attention. He couldn’t have come at a better time.
If the United States was a large corporation (and, really, that’s not so hard to imagine), we would say employee satisfaction is at an all-time low, with morale dwindling as health care premiums rise, job security teeters, wages are cut and workers’ rights slip away. So negative has the news around the water cooler become, many of us have stopped listening, or at least stopped participating.
Our country is stuck with two wars, a financial conundrum likened to that of the Great Depression, an energy crisis, an endangered environment, a failing education system, record-breaking national debt, immigration problems and impending Social Security disasters. And to top it off, the rest of the world feels increasing disdain for our unilateralist nation. We’re making enemies faster than we’re making friends. If there is a time when we need someone who unites a sense of purpose among our people and can extend diplomacy to other members of the globe, it is now. But it’s not enough for that leader to simply inspire; he or she must also have the resources, brainpower and clarity of mind to shepherd our country through the minefield.
Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. He started his career in community organizing in Chicago and then practiced as a civil rights lawyer and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. He served in the Illinois state Senate for eight years before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.
Obama’s policy positions are as well laid-out and easy to understand as any we’ve seen. On his website, there are comprehensive descriptions of his positions and plans for action on nearly every issue imaginable.
It’s not enough for that leader to simply inspire; he or she must also have the resources, brainpower and clarity of mind to shepherd our country through the minefield.
His first step in dealing with the crumbling economy would be enacting a windfall profits tax on excessive oil company profits that would give $1,000 to every American as an “emergency energy rebate.” His plan also includes tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans, comprising the lower-, middle- and working-class, and an elimination of income taxes for senior citizens who make less than $50,000 a year. He wants to end tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas and give a tax credit to those who create jobs in the United States. An investment in the “green” energy sector would create five million new jobs. Obama would also raise the federal minimum wage.
He has a similarly long set of goals for education, the most notable being a $4,000 tax credit for students of higher education if they complete 100 hours of community service per year. With regard to the war in Iraq, Obama supports a phased, 16-month withdrawal of U.S. soldiers, leaving a residual force to conduct counter-terrorism missions against al-Qaeda while continuing to train Iraqi forces—so long as they move toward reconciliation. Obama’s plan says the U.S. could eliminate oil imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 years, reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, and get 10 percent of our energy from renewable sources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025.
Sen. Joe Biden has also proven himself a formidable running mate. Sitting in the U.S. Senate for more than 35 years, he’s one of the foremost experts on foreign policy in the country (he’s been the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee since 1997 and served as chairman of the committee). Biden also has a strong record of supporting women’s issues—he crafted and passed the Violence Against Women Act, which criminalizes domestic violence, and he authored the legislation for the national registry of sex offenders, among many other accomplishments.
Four years ago, we were fans of McCain. But the senator we used to know has been replaced by a man who no longer seems clear on his ideals and who aligns himself too closely with Bush’s policies
It is difficult for us to voice the full strength of our endorsement for Barack Obama for president. He is an exceptional figure in the history of this country, and we believe he would make an exceptional president.
Sen. John McCain has been a good senator. He’s reached across party lines during his 26 years in Congress, proving himself to be more moderate than his Republican counterparts. In Bush’s first term, McCain voted against the president’s tax cuts twice. He also co-sponsored legislation to raise auto-fuel efficiency standards with John Kerry, along with a patients’ bill of rights with John Edwards and Edward Kennedy. When the rest of his party supported drilling offshore for oil and gas, McCain opposed it.
But in the last four years, McCain has increasingly sided with the Bush agenda, shifting his policies dramatically as he gets closer to the election. He now not only favors the Bush tax cuts but offers additional ones. As a veteran and senator who always spoke out against torture, earlier this year he voted against a ban on techniques of “enhanced interrogation.” McCain now speaks less with his own voice than that of the GOP—a far cry from the “maverick” he touts himself to be.
In further displays of bad character and judgment, he (or his party) chose a running mate who is completely unqualified for the job. Gov. Sarah Palin served two terms each as a city councilor and mayor of Wasilla, a small Alaska town. Two years ago, she was elected governor. She has no foreign policy experience (or knowledge, based on interviews and her performance in the vice-presidential debate) and has been unable to speak specifically about nearly any issue that’s been presented to her. Considering McCain’s age (72) and deteriorating health, having Palin for a vice president is a frightening prospect.
McCain doesn’t seem to have any true plan to restore the economy. He wants to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent. He wants to ban new taxes on cell phones and the Internet. He doesn’t support withdrawing from Iraq. He wants to increase domestic drilling for oil. He would give a $5,000 tax credit to people who buy a zero-carbon emissions car. He doesn’t support nationalized health care, but he would give a $2,500 tax credit to individuals ($5,000 to families) to help with the cost of health care.
Four years ago, we were fans of McCain. But the senator we used to know has been replaced by a man who no longer seems clear on his ideals and who aligns himself too closely with Bush’s policies. The possibility that Palin could take any form of national office makes us shiver. It is with that sentiment that we ask you to not vote for McCain’s ticket.
Job Description: As chief executive of the federal government, the president enforces laws, court rulings and treaties; crafts the country’s budget; appoints federal officials; develops federal policies; approves or vetoes decisions made by Congress; and has the power to grant pardons. As commander in chief, the president oversees the nation’s armed forces and decides when to send troops to battle. The president is the only person in the United States who can choose to use nuclear weapons.
Term: Four years (limited to two terms)
Also on the Ballot for President
Chuck Baldwin, Constitution Party
Economy: Impose a tariff on all foreign-made goods and encourage Americans to buy products made in this country.
War: Withdraw troops from Iraq safely.
Energy: Achieve American energy independence; drill offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; develop alternative energy like wind and solar.
Health Care: Remove government from the system; trust the free market to ensure low prices.
Bob Barr, Libertarian Party
Economy: Reduce taxes for everyone; let market forces ensure prosperity.
War: Withdraw troops as quickly as possible.
Energy: Eliminate government subsidies to oil companies; allow consumer choice to direct energy policy; drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Health Care: Reduce government regulations on the industry; slash government spending on Medicare and Medicaid.
Cynthia McKinney, Green Party
Economy: Declare a moratorium on foreclosures; renegotiate adjustable-rate mortgages into 30- or 40-year loans; eliminate predatory lending.
War: Pull troops from Iraq; send no additional troops to Afghanistan; outlaw the sale of weapons to human rights abusers.
Energy: Invest in solar; establish tax breaks for solar consumers; oppose nuclear energy and offshore drilling.
Health Care: Eliminate insurance; develop a single-payer system; address racial disparities within the health care system.
Ralph Nader, Independent
Economy: Create government-funded public works jobs; curb oil speculation on the New York Stock Exchange.
War: Withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq in six months; send no additional troops to Afghanistan.
Energy: Focus on solar energy; ban construction of new coal and nuclear plants; fight offshore drilling.
Health Care: Build a single-payer, government-provided system.
Wonders: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Ivory Sculpture from the 16th to the 19th Century at Museum of Spanish Colonial Art
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