Washingtonians will be watching the primaries Tuesday as we prepare to vote Feb. 19.
At The Skanner, we have been looking at the candidates with interest. This week we are presenting our observations on the Democratic frontrunners (we'll take a look at the Republicans later).
We are pleased to see the Democrats have more than one contender with both the skills and the policies to effectively lead the United States of America. Too bad Sen. John Edwardshas withdrawn from the field. He added a valuable perspective along with his experience and deep concern for low-income Americans.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is mid-way through her second term in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Clinton knows her way around Washington. She has the ability to work with a people from across the political spectrum– evidenced by her success as the senator for New York. She has pledged to make health care affordable for everyone and to begin a strategic troop withdrawal from Iraq. She also has pledged to increase funding for college -- essential for African Americans. Sen. Clinton could do the job.
Yet, here at The Skanner we also have been impressed by Sen. Barack Obama. Not because he is Black – if we didn't like his policies, his color would not influence our choice — but because we believe Sen. Obama could be the right man at the right time.
Like Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama has a workable plan to make affordable health care available to low- and middle-income families. He too is committed to withdrawing troops from Iraq: under his plan all combat brigades would be withdrawn within 16 months. His economic plan includes a tax cut for working families that would help 10 million people, expanding the earned income tax credit that helps the lowest income families, and removing income taxes for senior citizens who make under $50,000 a year. Good policies, but as we said, both of the Democratic frontrunners have those.
So what does else does Obama have to offer? Obama is putting forward a positive message of hope. And, as we saw in Seattle and Portland last fall, he projects an integrity and honesty that inspires confidence in people across the political spectrum.
To those who claim his experience somehow falls short of the mark, we say a highly intelligent and compassionate person can learn more in two terms as state senator and a term in the U.S. Senate than other people learn in their entire lives. Sen. Obama knows how to get things done. And his message is engaging more young people than any other candidate. He seems able to reach people across party lines, across social groups and across racial and cultural divides.
Unfortunately, in the last two weeks ex-president Bill Clinton – who packs a tremendous punch with Blacks and Whites – has injected race into the campaign in a most unpresidential way. We understand his zeal to support his wife, but we think this is very unfortunate. After all, the youth are the ones who will someday run this country and Obama has managed to energize young people. Too often young people stay apart from politics because they feel ignored and unrepresented. Former president Clinton's effort to equate Obama's campaign with Jesse Jackson's failed bids, and to denigrate Obama's abilities will do nothing for the Democrats but push young people away from their party.
For the last eight years, the people of the United States have endured a militant agenda that has divided the country more than ever before while doing nothing to solve the pressing problems we face. Early on President Bush rejected any ideas of compromise and negotiation. Whatever the president wanted to do, he did. Up to and including ignoring laws passed by Congress.
Meanwhile too many Americans have done without health care. Jobs have disappeared to other countries. A war waged on false information in a distant country has claimed more than 3,000 American lives, and many more Iraqi lives. The national debt just keeps growing.
But President Bush is on his way out. And the next president will have an opportunity to govern America from the center.That is essential because this country desperately needs to move beyond the old divisions rooted in the 60s and the Vietnam war. America needs to regain its standing as a country with a conscience. It needs to build global alliances. And Americans need to stand together to face the challenges of the future with young people playing an important part in creating that future.
The Democrats have two good candidates in senators Clinton and Obama. Both of them could do the job – but America needs more. America needs someone who can unite and inspire us all to work together. Now Democrats must decide which of them is most likely to do so.
What do you think? Share your thoughts!