Vote Obama, Warner, Day

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October 28, 2008

1:22 AM

Sen. Barack Obama for U.S. President
If national poll data is anything to be trusted, we’re about to preach to the choir. Among college students across the country, Sen. Barack Obama appears to be favored by more than 20 points. Just the same, we’re okay with joining that chorus of college voices supporting him. The man deserves it. We urge you to make Barack Obama America’s 44th president.

Writing prior to Virginia’s primaries in February, we spoke in airy tones of Obama as a visionary, as a voice for change. We supported Sen. John McCain’s nomination at the same time, praising his bipartisanship and pragmatism. In the intervening months, however, we watched with disappointment as McCain’s campaign eschewed the values we’d so appreciated in favor of gimmickry and deceit.

While we acknowledge that a man is not his campaign, Obama’s positions and poise have convinced us he will make the better commander-in-chief. He has surrounded himself with some of the best minds in America — not all of them liberal — which is a testament to his ability to build consensus and act thoughtfully. We trust that although he may take some positions with which we disagree, he has thoroughly considered both sides. After four years under President George W. Bush, Americans need a deliberator — not a decider — in the oval office. As much as McCain may distance himself from the current president, his vice presidential pick and campaign suspension bespeak a decision-making strategy that is, in a word, rash.

Obama’s good judgment might mean most for America in repairing its broken bonds abroad. An increased reliance upon multilateral diplomacy is essential in what is quickly becoming a multi-polar world. The spat over meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “without precondition” proved that America must end its us-versus-them mentality abroad. Obama is the man to do it.

At home, Obama emerges the clear winner in environmental policy, an issue particularly salient to the college demographic. Something must be done to wean America from its carbon-based economy. The economic hardship today could avert the much larger costs of a changing climate in the future. Obama’s planned investments in renewable energy, his commitment to preservation and his willingness to tackle climate change place him ahead of both his opponent and the current president.

We do hold some reservations about Obama when it comes to free trade. He has at times voiced opposition to free-trade, a stance we believe ignores the wealth of information on the benefits of globalization. Bringing down trade barriers has lifted millions of world citizens out of poverty. Foreign aid can’t make that claim.

Just four years ago, we watched as a hopeful state senator from Illinois climbed the stage at the Democratic National Convention. This year, he took that stage again with dreams of the presidency. Should Obama receive the nation’s blessing, we expect another speech in January, this time in front of the Capitol.

Mark Warner for Virginia Senator
With the retirement of John Warner, Virginia loses an excellent senator. Fortunately, with the election of former Gov. Mark Warner, we have the opportunity to gain someone just as good, if not better. We respect few public figures more than former Gov. Warner. His experiences as an entrepreneur have made him an agile and able politician. His term as governor indicated as much. In setting his sights on Washington, he faces even greater challenges. We’re sure he’s up to it. We’re also sure his opponent, former Gov. Jim Gilmore, is not.

Even Gilmore’s own party has all but given up on him. In a hard-fought primary contest, he barely eked out a victory over relatively unknown Delegate Bob Marshall. That the retiring Warner, also a Republican, recently indicated that he will not endorse Gilmore shows that something’s amiss. But why all the animus? As the College’s in-state population knows, Gilmore’s battle against the car tax defined his governorship. Even as the state’s finances and his own party turned against him, Gilmore ignored both as he pushed his legislation.

Warner, on the other hand, stepped in and cleaned up Gilmore’s mess. Putting politics aside, he treated the state with the cool head of a businessman and worked with Republicans to repair the largest budget shortfall in Virginia’s history. Bipartisanship pervaded his tenure. In 2005, Time magazine named him one of America’s five best governors. Similarly, in his senatorial campaign, he has stressed consensus building over adherence to ideology. Even his current energy proposal, a wedding of Republican and Democratic plans for nuclear, coal and renewables, illustrates a desire for pragmatism over partisanship.

Bill Day for Virginia Representative
Virginia’s first congressional district stretches across the Tidewater region, from Hampton Roads to Prince William County. It is, by and large, Republican territory. But as Virginia has proved recently, even the most stolidly red strongholds have gone up for the grabs. The current contest pits two political tyros against each other: Democrat Bill Day and incumbent Republican Rob Wittman. We’ve placed our support behind Day.

On the majority of issues, Day and Wittman are nearly indistinguishable. Both fiscal conservatives, the two nonetheless diverge enough for Day to display superiority, if only slightly. In an interview with The Flat Hat’s editorial board, Day discussed his concerns about the affordability of higher education. Noting that the current Pell Grant program suffered from an acute lack of funding, he promised to appropriate the necessary money and expand educational opportunities. Day also promised a commitment to the environment, saying he’d favor expanded nuclear and renewable energy production in Virginia. He was light on specifics, however.

Day’s background in business will leave him better positioned to respond to the current economic turmoil. At the same time, though, that business experience has not inoculated him from some illogical proposals. Both Day and Wittman champion energy independence without justification or a clear understanding of how such a plan would affect energy prices. Wittman, for his part, equates filling up the gas tank with supporting “terrorist regimes.” We doubt Canada, our number one supplier of oil, appreciates the sleight.
More pragmatically, Day supported a conciliatory approach to immigration policy reform. He argues — rightly, we think — that immigrants fill essential positions in the American workforce. Denying their entrance or sending them home will benefit neither them nor the businesses that rely on them. Wittman’s stance is less friendly to both.

Since Wittman joined the House in January, he has voted with Republicans 96 percent of the time. If nothing else, Wittman deserves to spend some time with his colleagues pondering where exactly those decisions have led the country. We urge you to vote for Bill Day on Nov. 4.

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