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Election 2008:Pt. 2:Style v.Substance

By       Message Lydia Howell     Permalink
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After seven years with George W. Bush in the Oval Office, it's understandable that the idea of the next President having “experience” is appealing. Of course, one has to believe that the biggest problem with the Bush Administration has been “incompetence”. Personally, I think it's all gone pretty much according to plan (except for those pesky Iraqis who refuse to accept having their country occupied and their oil stolen by American corporations). With no Congressional restraint, Bush has made a huge power-grab for the presidency, appointed right-wing reactionaries to executive branch agencies and the Supreme Court who all seem committed to hurling us backwards to the pre-New Deal era.


But, I digress. Hillary Clinton touts her experience,saying Barack Obama isn't seasoned enough for the Top Job.


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I like the fact that Obama has grassroots experience as a community organizer. Frankly, I'd like to see fewer lawyers or big businessmen and a lot more people on city councils, in state legislatures and Congress, who's politics has been shaped on the ground in their communities. I'd like to see more teachers, nurses, union organizers, activists and small business owners representing We the People. Most elected officials---with the backing of huge sums of campaign cash, unavailable to the 75% of Americans who make $50,000 or less—don't even seem in touch with everyday reality.


Maybe, Obama has more of that perspective. While his speeches are short of details, his website appears to have some solid ideas. . From bolstering safety nets and re-training for displaced workers and investing in green energy jobs, Obama has some good ideas. The question is: is he going to the root of the Corporate dominance created this economic car-wreck or just offering band-aides for the working people who are bleeding while CEOs cash in? He sticks it with “free trade” agreements that it appears ought to be renegotiated (as only Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucnich recommends).

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It's understandable that people are uplifted by Obama's slogan “CHANGE We Can believe In”, but, to quote an old campaign slogan, “Where's the beef?” If nothing much changes in the way Corporations are allowed to consolidate in endless mergers or how corporate lobbyist write legislation that's passed by corporate-sponsored members of Congress, how much of a “change” is that?


But, what is Hillary Clinton's “experience”? She puts forth her long association with the Children's Defense Fund, founded by civil rights luminary Marion White Edleman. However, Clinton never mentions being on the board of Wal-Mart—a company leading the corporate assault on the American economy and who was the subject of the biggest sex-discrimination law-suit in U.S. history. Clinton insists she should get credit as a “co-equal” in governing, for being First Lady for eight years. If the Clinton presidency is the New York Senator's main claim for the Democratic nomination, then, policies instigated during the Clinton years should be fair game for debate.


The North American Free Trade Agreement that Bill Clinton pushed---and Senator Clinton says she still supports---escalated the export of American manufacturing jobs that continues to gut the economic lives of whole communities and families.

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Republicans have sought to end New Deal social safety-nets but, Bill Clinton pushed through “welfare reform”--dumping the nation's poorest mothers and children off welfare, yet, leaving most of them in poverty. The Children's Defense Fund has raised deep concerns about the actual results of this policy. Hillary Clinton wrote a book “It takes A Village” but, seems oblivious to the damage to families that“welfare reform” is causing. She wants to be seen as a lifelong feminist but doesn't propose the concrete solutions for single mothers raising children in poverty: access to education, decent housing, and quality childcare.


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http://blog.myspace.com/lydiahowell
Lydia Howell is a Minneapolis journalist, poet, activist and producer/host of "Catalyst:politics & culture" on KFAI Radio, all shows archived for 2 weeks after braodcast at www.kfai.org

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