An Election of Firsts

It’s only the first week of January, there’s only been one primary and one caucus, and already this is shaping up to be one of the most exciting presidential elections in history.

Illinois has its primary election on Tuesday, February 5.  I still haven’t decided who will get my vote, and may not decide for at least another week or so.  My decisions hinge on a very small margin of issues vs. passion vs. viability as a candidate.  Certainly I’d like to vote for someone like Dennis Kucinich, who clearly is the favorite when it comes to gay-related issues; but in the public’s eye he never was a strong candidate to begin with, and his viability as a candidate is losing ground by the day.  John Edwards would be another strong possibility, but he hasn’t wowed me all that much with his message, and if he doesn’t pull off a fairly strong victory soon, he could be off the ballot by the time the polls open here.  Richardson ended his bid today, so he’s out.  Biden is out.  So that leaves Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, with Edwards as a close third.

The Democrats are definitely in the forefront, and it’s most exciting for a number of reasons: First, the party finally seems to have its finger squarely on the pulse of America for the first time in years. Second, the front-running candidates are all strong in their own ways and, were the election to happen tomorrow, I would be happy if any of them won. And third, the two front-runners represent a monumental turning-point in the typical view of what — and who — a presidential candidate is.  Gone are the expectations of “just another old white guy” to run the country.  We are now graced with the vision of a younger African-American man and a former First Lady– a woman.  Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could certainly represent change in more ways than one.

The novelty of their being the front-runners is not what’s put them there.  Rather, it’s the strength of their message.  They are passionate about the office, passionate about the direction our country is headed, and passionate about making the changes necessary to get the country back on track.

That isn’t to say their fellow candidates aren’t as good or as passionate about their beliefs– they are.  That’s what’s so refreshing about this slate of Democratic candidates:  They seem to have somewhat unified goals, with minor variations on certain issues.  Truly, it’s about time the Democrats had some semblance of unity in their message.  It’s been a rough time getting to this point up until now.

Unfortunately, not everything is sunshine and roses.  Some campaigns are starting to cry foul that the media has already chosen its front-runners and have shut out the others.  Other complaints are coming in that the elections were “bought” by big money.  I don’t exactly see it this way.  It’s obvious the fundraising has been stronger for some candidates than others: Clinton exceeds everyone- Democrat and Republican- with a whopping $90 million raised as of Third Quarter 2007, with $50 million cash on hand.  Obama is a close second with $80 million total raised and $36 million cash on hand.  The Republicans are almost barely squeaking by in comparison, and the top cash raisers (Romney and Guliani) have yet to win a primary or come even close (source).

So while the numbers obviously show Clinton and Obama in the lead, I can’t see them sacrificing their campaigns for a few more votes.  I believe these candidates want this election to go as smoothly as possible, without the bumps and embarrassments of 2004 or 2000.  I’m hoping that as the convention day nears and the final candidate is chosen, there can be a unified agreement that the best candidate is going forward and representing all Democrats equally.  We may not get the candidate the answers our every need, but I do believe we will get a candidate that represents the country best for all of us.

So I’ll be voting on February 5, and on November 4.  And I believe there will be a lot of people voting for the change I’m hoping for as well.  It’s time… and we are so ready.

Bush tries to pin the blame on the Democrats… AGAIN!

Our illustrious president strikes again– this is from his weekly radio address:

“Good morning.”Today I am signing emergency legislation to fund the federal government for the next seven weeks. This legislation was necessary because Congress failed in its most basic responsibility: to pass the spending bills that fund the day-to-day operations of the government. There are 12 of these bills this year, and Congress did not complete a single one of them, so Congress had to send me a stop-gap measure before the fiscal year ends this Sunday at midnight.

“Congress’s failure to pass these 12 spending bills is disappointing, but I do thank the Congress for passing this temporary measure, and for passing it without any new spending, new policies or new projects. It would have been wrong to deny essential government services to the American people while Congress works through its annual spending bills.

“I also appreciate the way this bill handles our disagreements over the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Congressional leaders have put forward an irresponsible plan that would dramatically expand this program beyond its original intent. And they know I will veto it. But it is good that they kept the program running while they try to work out a more responsible approach.

“Congress now has more time to complete its work on its annual spending bills. Earlier this year congressional leaders promised to show that they could be responsible with the people’s money. Unfortunately they seem to have chosen the path of higher spending. They have proposed spending increases that would add an extra $205 billion on top of my Administration’s budget request over the next five years. There’s only one way to pay for such a large spending increase, and that is to raise taxes on the American people. So it is no surprise that the same Members of Congress who are planning this big increase in federal spending are also planning the biggest tax increase in American history.

“If these members get their way, the tax relief my administration delivered could be taken away from you. Let me explain what this would mean for an average taxpayer. If you have children, your taxes would rise by $500 for each child. If you’re a family of four making $60,000 a year, your taxes would be more than $1,800 higher. If you’re a single mother with two children, working to make ends meet, your taxes would go up by more than a $1,000. If you’re a small business owner working to meet a payroll, your taxes would increase by almost $4,000. And if Congress allows our tax relief to expire, more than 5 million low-income Americans who currently pay no income taxes would once again have to pay taxes.

“These are not the only taxes Congress wants to raise. They’re proposing higher taxes on dividends and capital gains. They’re proposing higher taxes on cigars and cigarettes. They’re proposing to raise taxes on domestic oil and natural gas production. They’re proposing new taxes on stock and bond transactions. And they refuse to make the Internet tax moratorium permanent. If this tax ban expires, it would open the doors for State and local officials to impose new taxes on your access to the Internet.

“At a time when many American families are dealing with rising mortgage rates, college costs, and health care expenses, it is wrong to take even more money out of your paychecks. Washington’s elected leaders can do better. By working together, we can keep taxes low, help keep the economy growing, balance the Federal budget, and build on our record of fiscal discipline and greater economic opportunity for all Americans.

“Thank you for listening.”

Higher spending!? Oh NO! What a horrible situation we’d be in! After all, what’s a few BILLION dollars spent on a useless war? What’s a few BILLION dollars on programs that don’t — and haven’t — worked?

Bush should look in the mirror when he makes statements like these. He’s overspent more than any Democrat I can recall in my lifetime. Our budget is in the toilet because of what HE did. The Democrats are just trying to clean up the mess HE made. I’ve never known someone try to conjure up fear in more ridiculous ways than this feeble president of ours.

This is just another pitiful attempt by Bush and the Republicans at trying to pin the blame on someone else. I fully expect that our taxes will have to be raised– how else can we pay for the disaster of his presidency?

Whether a Democrat, Republican or Independent makes it into the White House in ’08, taxes are going to HAVE to be raised. Otherwise we are going to be in even worse trouble.

So Bush can just stop trying to scare the voters into believing his “Doomsday” predictions.

Doomsday is already here.