It’s President’s Day, and I’ve already decided whom I’d like to support for President.
It is, admittedly, way too early to be thinking about the 2008 presidential campaign, but nonetheless, there are many reasons that I already am.
I am somewhat more politically savvy than I have ever been. I read more news. I have more opinions. I understand more of what I believe. I’m an adult now. The last presidential campaign, I was going through massive life changes, (marriage, house-buying), and the one before that I lived in China, and shamefully, I didn’t request an absentee ballot.
Besides, the media frenzy already surrounding the fascinating array of high-profile candidates doesn’t hurt the general awareness of the elections, year and a half away or not. More than anything, I want to be a better voter this year, and the way people like me become better voters is through the Internet. Every candidate has a web site, and I would argue, the only candidates worth considering are those who have an issues page devoted purely to their stances on particular issues.
Now, part of me would vote for Hillary just because she’s a woman. I’ve read most of her autobiography, and I really enjoyed her style and opinions on many things. She’s brilliant, has a lot of excellent experience and of course, was married to a President. That can’t hurt.
I’d also vote for Barack Obama just because he’s black. I mean, how better to chip away at racism than by electing a black President? However, he is a first-term U.S. Senator, and I think he’s far too inexperienced to be a good President, for now.
I can take or leave John Edwards. I’m undecided on him. I know I’ve left many Democratic contenders out, and certainly have very shallowly depicted the three front-runners, but I’m too excited about the one I really like: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
Now, if this were one of my Journal Sentinel columns, I might receive a lot of comments about how I am just supporting my raza, or some crazy talk like that. Yes, Richardson is Hispanic, he’s the son of a Mexican mother and an American father. He’s bilingual, he’s had a ton of experience with international relations and diplomacy, and the only of the array of Democratic hopefuls to have experience as a Governor, the executive of New Mexico, a border state at that.
I’ve been intrigued by stories I heard about Richardson, and so I spent some time this weekend reading his issues pages and the speeches that went along with it. I was pretty impressed with all of it, especially when I compared it to the pages of Sens. Clinton and Obama. Clinton doesn’t have an issues page, per se, more like a long story-form biography that weaves the things she stands for in and out of sections on her years at Wellesley or her experience as the First Lady. Obama has issues, on his web site that is, and although there is some good information there, he doesn’t touch immigration, which I have a serious problem with, and he doesn’t have the speaking or policy-making experience to back it up.
Richardson believes we need to get out of Iraq. He understands the region, has extensive diplomatic experience, and believes a multi-nation effort to stabilize the whole region is required.
Richardson was recently re-elected as New Mexico Governor with 69 percent of the vote. An astonishing 40 percent of Republicans voted for him. We need a person who can garner this type of bi-partisan support as our nation’s leader.
Richardson is strong on the environment, and under his leadership, New Mexico is moving toward requiring that 20 percent of all energy be renewable.
Finally, this guy understands immigration, perhaps better than almost all the politicians in this country. He has a very comprehensive approach to reform and is probably the only politician I have read a speech from that actually addresses the problem with compassion and intelligence, and comes up with some reasonable solutions.
So, with that in mind, I’m looking forward to seeing the 2008 presidential race unfold. I’m hopeful mostly that whatever candidate is elected, there will be a shift in the obnoxious neo-conservative, cowboys-of-the-world mentality that has plagued our policies the last six years. I’m also impressed that the country will be seriously considering a black, Hispanic and female candidate. We’ve never seen a serious contender from any of those groups, and if nothing else, it is progress.