05 May 2008

An Indiana Teacher's Opinion on the Democratic Primary

I felt the need to write this after learning of the AFT’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton, and, essentially, hearing only one side of the story. She has come out (in several speeches) against the No Child Left Behind Act, something I find very commendable, but I wonder if anyone is looking more deeply at the issues of this campaign.

After carefully pondering these issues, I have decided to write, as a teacher, in support of Barack Obama. While he has not openly mentioned or repudiated NCLB, he has promised to restore education from its abyss of “teaching to the test” and has vowed to help teachers focus more on art, literature, drama, math, etc…So, while he has not condemned the act by name, I feel his policies are similar, if not as concrete. Additionally, he plans to make student aid affordable for everyone (in return for community-based services like tutoring and volunteer work).

But this election goes much more deeply than this. To me, this campaign comes down to integrity vs. politics, to actually taking on lobbyists and big government instead of saying only what the crowd currently in front of a speaker wants to hear. Barack Obama has shown a level of goodness, decency, and uprightness heretofore lacking in most political elections, a deep thoughtfulness and a disinclination to engage in the “attack” politics of his opponents, even at the risk of appearing “weak” or “ineffectual." While he has returned some of Hillary’s salvos, he has consistently shown himself to be a candidate more concerned with why he should be elected than how. And while the media continues its programmed outrage of the Reverend Wright situation (for all intents and purposes playing on the racial fears and hatreds of Americans to garner ratings) he has continued his message of hope and togetherness. Republicans are not a faction to be defeated – they are people (Americans) with whom Democrats need to work if we are to move ahead as a country.

An example to illustrate my point:

Hillary Clinton has supported John McCain’s Gas Tax Holiday proposal, a proposal economists have slammed as being “absolutely absurd” and “a terrible plan,” while Obama has opposed it from the first, despite the immediate hit he took in the polls for it. Hillary had Shell Oil lobbyist Steve Elmendorf campaign for this Holiday (gasp!) a policy that would, essentially, eliminate the only fraction of good that comes from gas purchases: the oil companies would still make their profits, but the money generated for roads and infrastructure would be eliminated, and we would save money (about 25-30 dollars over three months per customer) only if the oil companies decided to abide by the proposal and not raise prices. She talks a good game, but what she should be doing (and what she has vowed to do) – standing up to Big Oil – is exactly what she is not. She then paints Obama as an out-of-touch elitist for opposing it. (And how someone who has made 100 million dollars in the past seven years can paint herself as the “every-woman” candidate while someone who grew up in a single parent home, worked in the ghettos of south Chicago for years while struggling to pay his bills, and has only a fraction of her wealth is somehow perceived as snobbish and out-of-touch is entirely beyond me.)

In effect, Hillary gives someone a proposal or says something that sounds good at a given moment (remember her story about shooting ducks to illustrate how down-to-earth she was after Obama’s perceived “elitist” comments, despite her being an avid proponent of increased gun control?) but is this any indication that she will follow through with it in January? I find much of her campaign to be nothing but pandering for votes – and rather shallow and empty at that.

Barack isn’t perfect (I’ve taken issue with his votes on Border Control and his support of Dick Cheney’s energy plan) but I feel he is a tremendous step in the right direction, and not more of the same.

Therefore, with a clean and happy conscience, I support Barack Obama. If you are as excited about Hillary as I am about Obama, by all means vote for her. But if you’re inclined as I am, please - vote on May 6th. Polls close at 6!!!


At 6:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Dan your article was good but I feel like this: Barack, Hillary and anyone else that runs for a government office seem to make a lot of empty promises. I don't trust any of them. They say one thing when they are running but when they do get in office they do another. So who are you to believe?


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