Obama’s stand on War in Iraq, energy, college distinguishes candidate from the rest

My vote in the Texas Primary Election is going to Sen. Barack Obama because I believe he provides an opportunity to restore faith in American politics.

His ability to rally the American people for change will give us the needed political mandate to make a clean break from the failed policies of the last eight years.

Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton have set forth only slightly different policy proposals – however, Obama is unique in his willingness to work to end the unproductive gridlock in government, making Washington the place where good ideas become casualties in hyper-partisan political warfare.

My support for Obama began in earnest after I read his book “The Audacity of Hope,” which provides a variety of anecdotes that serve to verify his core belief that, as Americans, what we have in common is greater than what drives us apart.

The book echoed the theme of Obama’s 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention where he proclaimed, “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America – there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America…”

Apart from his strong character and unifying message, Obama offers policy solutions that appeal to Americans from all walks of life, even college students, and I believe Obama is uniquely on-target on these issues.

War in Iraq

Obama is distinguished by the fact that he courageously spoke out against the war in Iraq before it began. As the majority of the country drifted with President Bush towards military action against Iraq, Obama put his political career on the line and delivered an opposition speech that warned against “an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs and undetermined consequences.”

Obama demonstrated needed wisdom that will keep us from costly miscalculations in the future.

Health Care

Obama, like Clinton, is an unrelenting advocate for universal health care. You might ask why universal health care is important to a mostly-insured college population. And I would respond by saying that 47 million uninsured Americans, and countless others who have been financially crippled by medical costs, create a moral crisis that our country and generation must confront immediately.

Obama has put forth a plan that will cover everyone and provide quality care comparable to the care your local congressman, congresswoman or senator receives. While his plan does not include a mandate requiring adults to have care (it does include a mandate for children), it will save Americans up to $2,500 on deductibles, co-pays, and premiums. Obama has made a personal commitment to see that his universal health care plan is implemented by the end of his first term as president.

College

Most importantly, for all of us who loathe the 8 percent annual tuition increases, Obama is proposing an American Opportunity Tax Credit that will make college affordable and available to all students.

This plan would give eligible students a $4,000 per year, fully refundable credit to put toward college tuition. Obama’s plan will cover two-thirds of the cost of the average public university and will completely cover the cost of tuition at most community colleges. Students can earn the credit by participating in programs like the Peace Corps, Teach for America, etc.

Our next president must also rise to the challenge and lead America toward energy independence and global leadership against climate change. Obama has proposed a cap-and-trade system aimed to cut carbon emissions in the U.S. 80 percent by the year 2050, ensuring our children and grandchildren to be able to enjoy an environment that is at least as clean, if not cleaner, than the one we enjoy today.

While both Clinton and Obama have similar policy proposals on many issues, Obama has demonstrated a very real ability to rally a new and diverse coalition of Americans that will actually be able to put some political capital behind the policies that will help us confront 21st century challenges at home and abroad.

He helps us recognize that while we may disagree on the issues, we all have a stake in the future, and we are all bound by a duty to make this country and world a better place for ourselves, and generations to come.

Brian Young is a junior political science major from Friendswood.