Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Bringing change with Barack Obama

<se caucus on February 5th. I know it’s still a week away, but start thinking about it. Put it on your calendar, mark it in your lagniappe, do whatever you need to do to get to the caucus on Tuesday the Fifth. The caucus begins at 6:30 PM; you must cast your vote by 7:59 PM. You can come and go any time between those times.

Making the choice between candidates is never an easy process, but it’s a pretty simple one this year. On one side there’s an establishment favorite, a woman who has worked tirelessly to solidify support among party members and money raisers, PACs and special interests. Hillary benefits from a decades-old, constantly refined political machine whose stock and trade is divisive, dishonest politics. Running against this Washington juggernaut is a community organizer, civil rights lawyer, and constitutional law professor. Barack Obama preaches a politics of inclusion, of hope, of faith in ordinary people. Building a grassroots network in a few months, Obama’s message that honesty is important, that unity is better than division, and that we should hold our leaders accountable has spread like wildfire across the country.

We’ve seen the devastation that Clintonian division causes: our country has suffered through eight years of Bush administration that capitalized on the divisions of the 1990’s. Barack Obama carries the standard for a politics that unites us in our common goals and solves problems when change is needed, not just when it becomes expedient. Tellingly when I asked a Clinton bundler why Hillary hadn’t put anything on her website about fixing the criminal justice system her response was, “because it hasn’t been an issue this year.” I suppose injustice isn’t an issue to the Clinton camp.

In Monday’s debate, Clinton showed her do-anything, say-anything to get elected side, throwing mud at Obama and echoing her campaign’s dishonest attacks. Wildly distorting words and facts, she followed the same pattern that her campaign has since they realized that despite having immense support from lobbyists and PACs, they may not win easily. In New Hampshire, Bill Clinton started distorting the record of Senator Obama; claiming that Obama was not against the Iraq war from the start. Since then, Bill has been distorting Obama’s record on everything from his views on Ronald Reagan, to Obama’s position on healthcare. This is the type of divisive politics that we categorically reject, and I join Ted Kennedy and Rahm Emmanuel (a former Clinton aide) in asking Bill to stop his “combative” approach to his wife’s campaign. These negative attacks seem to have been at work in New Hampshire and Nevada, and will likely continue through February 5th, but at least at the debate they backfired. Barack showed for the first time that he will stand his ground against the Republican attack machine, consistently and clearly pointing to the truth, explaining patiently how Clinton and Edwards had gotten their attacks wrong.

I can’t stand when a politician lies about an opponent’s views. Clinton’s dishonest campaign reminds me of George Bush’s arrogance. Clinton’s lack of respect for the truth shows an alarming lack of respect for voters. This is why I volunteered for Obama in Iowa: I believe that voters deserve our respect. I hope that you’ll join us in rejecting intellectually dishonest campaigning. Though Senator Obama has provided leadership by running positive, honest campaigns, Hillary’s campaign apparently just doesn’t get it. We need your support to change our politics, so that the liar with the biggest megaphone doesn’t always win. If we have honest, open campaigns, we will surely elect honest, open politicians. Corruption cannot bear the weight of sunlight or an informed population. Incompetence and cronyism are larger than just the Bush administration and just changing the drapes in the Oval Office to how they were before Bush took office won’t solve them.

In the wake of the most damaging, secretive administration in the history of the United States, can we risk reliving the second most secretive administration in history? In the face of bitter partisanship that scuttles common sense initiatives like extending health insurance to more children via SCHIP, or the assault weapon ban, or securing our ports and borders, or a hundred other reforms; can we afford to vote for the political machine that fostered this hyper partisan environment in the first place? We simply cannot afford to fight the same partisan battles of the 1990s for eight more years. Uniting the country around a progressive agenda will be much more effective than trying to battle against half of the country.

In contrast to Clinton’s closed-door meetings, Obama’s record is characterized by accountability and transparency. Obama led the fight for lobbying reform in Washington, causing the largest ethics overhaul since Watergate. Even how he runs his campaign shows a fundamental emphasis on honesty and trustworthiness. His website boasts much more specific plans than any of his competitors’ sites, a sure sign he wants to run on his ideas, not hide them from us. also invites users to submit feedback or their own policies. His bill will be responsible for making legislation and earmarks as easily searchable. Obama has already made great strides to enhance the transparency of government; the Clintons have already done much to obscure it.

Curiously, Clinton brought up the importance of running on a record in Monday’s debate. I don’t know what her record would be; her involvement or lack thereof in Bill Clinton’s administration still is shrouded in secrecy; we don’t know what her record from the 90’s would include. I suppose she’s running on her strong support for trade deals, the Iraq war, invading Iran, and video game censorship. Her Senate record is marred by saber rattling and pandering.

As far as policy goes, there are few substantial differences between Barack’s plans and Hillary’s vagaries. The one that has received the most attention is healthcare. Their plans are actually pretty similar. Both support covering every American the same health insurance that Congress enjoys. The first difference is that Obama’s plan requires health care providers to cover the recipient’s children until they turn 25. Under most plans currently, coverage drops out at 18 or 21, but is extended as long as the child stays in college. An 18 year old who cannot afford college misses out on both education and health insurance. The second major difference between the plans is that Clinton’s plan mandates that citizens buy health care. Massachusetts recently implemented the nation’s first mandated health insurance law and the results have been disastrous. People who cannot afford insurance are not only left out; they are penalized harshly. Mandates in general have a poor history in America; car insurance is similarly mandated with no better results than Obama’s health plan will have. Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s first Secretary of Labor and a predominant economic advisor, reviewed the two health plans and found that, “Obama’s [plan] would insure more people, not fewer, than Hillary Clinton’s.” Senator Obama’s goal is to provide affordable healthcare for all Americans; penalizing people doesn’t make that happen.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *