Often, it’s deemed unsexy to talk about politics. Okay, well, discussing Sen. Barack Obama might be considered sexy these days, but by-and-large, it’s not a hot topic. Nevertheless, the discussion about the direction of our country is a crucial one that we must have.
While most of the political world is currently focused on the presidential campaign (for good reason — Sarah Palin makes for a helluva discussion), we here in Virginia’s first Congressional District also have the responsibility this November of electing our next delegate to the U. S. House of Representatives. Who will it be — the incumbent, Republican Rob Wittman or the underdog, Democrat Bill Day? Both are highly educated (Wittman has a Ph.D. from Virginia Commonwealth University, Day an MBA from Harvard University), both are fairly congenial and both have a record of service. So, how does one choose?
Luckily for us, they disagree on policy about as much as Karl Rove and Nancy Pelosi.
Let’s start with incumbent Wittman: In his two years in Congress, Wittman has sponsored seven bills — only one of which has been enacted into law — and co-sponsored 190. He has supported bills that call for an end to a woman’s right to choose, to make English the official language of the United States (take that, America’s heritage of immigration) and to ban flag-burning (which, as we all know, is rampant).
Wittman also has voiced support for the war in Iraq, is in favor of aggressive oil drilling both domestically and off-shore and, according to his website, is committed to “reducing the number” of families in the United States without health care. Nevermind that he voted against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which would have extended health care to millions of uninsured American children.
Statistics may help us better understand the representation we in the first district are currently receiving. According to the nonpartisan research center Knowlegis, a publication by congress.org, Wittman is ranked 432 in effectiveness among his colleagues in the House of Representatives (for a point of reference, there are 435 representatives in the House). He has voted with his fellow republicans 96 percent of the time. He enjoys the financial endorsements of the following organizations: The National Rifle Association, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris), Dominion Power, Exxon Mobil, Government is Not God Political Action Committee and, the place for “always low prices, Walmart.
His challenger Bill Day: He has not held elected office, thus depriving us of one of the best tools for analyzing a candidate — a voting record. But don’t count him out yet because Day has spent over 40 years as a successful businessman. In 1991, he decided to give back to the community and returned to school to get another masters degree, this one in counseling. As a practicing counselor, Day got real insight into the trials faced by we ordinary Americans. He’s got solid business credentials, serious empathy creds (he made numerous trips down to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina to help in its rebuilding) and he wants to change things.
But is that enough? Looking at the issues, Day supports an end to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, a return to sound economic policy and investment in alternative energy. He supported the expanded GI Bill that recently passed in Congress, has pledged to make college more affordable and vows to take on the health insurance industry. It’s true, he’s only made promises, but I’m willing to take the chance that he would do better in Washington than Mr. 432.
So, it may not be sexy to talk congressional politics, but we can’t risk another two years of inept representation in the House of Representatives. We need real leadership, and that’s why I will be supporting Day this November.
Beau Wright is a sophomore at the College.