The mainstream media has been pretty gung-ho about sticking to its narrative that Hillary Clinton is the Uninspiring Yet Experienced, Emotionally Off-Putting Yet Politically Shrewd Candidate and Barack Obama is the Inspiring and Charismatic Yet Inexperienced and Politically Naive Candidate. (See my previous post on this subject.)
I don't think this portrayal is fair to either candidate. Obama has political experience. Clinton can connect well with voters. But, considering how ridiculously thin mainstream media coverage has been on ANY of the current presidential primary candidates' positions on policy issues, or their voting records, I can see why people who haven't had the time or inclination to do some serious research in those areas might be a bit flummoxed as to what Obama is really about.
If you are interested in learning about Obama's legislative record and policy plans yourself, you can start by checking out his official Senate website and his presidential campaign website's Issues page.
However, since I already did a fair bit of research myself on his record before deciding to support him as a candidate, I have decided to post some highlights here:
Obama's Career Before Politics:
- Worked as a grassroots community organizer for the Developing Communities Project in Chicago, where, among other projects, he successfully fought for asbestos abatement measures in public schools and in public housing units
- Obtained a law degree from Harvard Law School
- Worked as civil rights lawyer and as a constitutional law professor at University of Chicago
Obama’s Accomplishments in the Illinois State Legislature:
Obama sponsored over 800 bills during his eight years in the Illinois State Legislature.
- Helped draft and pass important bipartisan campaign finance reform legislation that the New York Times has called “the first significant campaign finance reform law in Illinois in 25 years.” This reform bill banned most gifts by lobbyists and gave the media unprecedented access to campaign finance records for state legislature members
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties:
- Helped reform the state death penalty system after several death row inmates in Illinois were found by courts to be innocent
- Helped pass legislation requiring that police homicide interrogations be recorded on video to prevent coerced confessions
- Negotiated a compromise between the ACLU and local law enforcement to pass a law requiring police officers to record the race of drivers they stopped as a way to track and prevent racial profiling
- Co-sponsored a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation (sadly, this bill did not pass, but a later version succeeded after he had left the State Senate)
Helping Working Families:
- Chief sponsor of a five percent earned-income state tax credit for the working poor
- Worked to increase child care subsidies for low-income families
- Sponsored a bill to provide job skills training for recipients of federal aid
Obama has publicly stated that cleaning up air pollution in Chicago was a personal priority of his given his oldest daughter’s asthma.
- Drafted a bill to reduce harmful mercury emissions from coal-fired electricity plants
- Fought for legislation to tighten energy efficiency standards in commercial and residential buildings
- Received a 100 Percent Environmental Voting Record Award from the Illinois Environmental Council
- Successfully co-sponsored a prescription drug discount program for seniors and the disabled
- Sponsored the Health Care Justice Act, which authorized a study of ways to implement a statewide universal health care system
Obama’s Record in the Senate:
The Washington Post says Obama leads the pack on ethics reform.
- Successfully co-sponsored and passed the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act to create a public website where users can search all government contracts, grants, earmarks, and loans, opening up Federal financial transactions to public scrutiny
- Sponsored the Transparency and Integrity in Earmarks Act, which would have required all earmarks to be disclosed 72 hours before they could be considered for a vote, and would have prohibited Senators from advocating for an earmark if they had any financial interest in the project or earmark recipient. His original version of the bill did not pass, but some of its provisions were included in the ethics and lobbying reform bill that passed the Senate in January 2007
- Introduced amendments to the Homeland Security and Defense spending bills to restrict no-bid contracts
- Voted against the most recent effort to raise the national debt limits
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties:
- Voted for an amendment to restore the habeas corpus rights for all persons detained by the United States (this amendment did not have the two-thirds majority to override a Bush veto threat)
- Voted AGAINST a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States
- Co-sponsored the National Low Carbon Fuel Standard Act to require a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the national transportation fuel pool by 2020
- Authored the Fuel Economy Reform Act to raise automobile fuel efficiency standards (also known as “CAFE” standards). The bill would establish incremental progress in miles per gallon fuel efficiency by an increase of four percent annually
- Voted to prevent the EPA from loosening mercury emissions standards for coal-fired electric plants
Helping Working Families
- Voted to increase Federal Pell Grants to give more low-income students access to higher education
- Co-sponsored the National MEDiC Act to promote patient safety initiatives, provide for early disclosure of medical errors, and provide compensation to patients injured by medical errors
- Sponsored the Hospital Quality Report Card Act, which will use federal hospital quality reporting requirements to help patients make informed health care decisions
- Supported expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Introduced the Lead-Free Toys Act in 2005 to require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban any children’s product from containing more than trace amounts of lead (this bill, sadly, got hung up in committee and did not come to a vote)
Okay, this is it for a while on politics, friends. For the next few posts I'm going back to blogging about the cute things my three-year-old says and other such boring Mommyblogger topics.
And for all my fellow St. Louis bloggers, I'm sorry I didn't make it to the shindig tonight-- my husband has been sick for most of this week and since he still isn't feeling very well I didn't feel like sticking him with parenting duty alone tonight. I hope you're all having a blast.