Whether you consider the Bush presidency a success or a failure, one thing is certain: We will have a new president in 2009.
Recent polls show that Americans are eager for change. As a Democrat, I am inspired by the vision for change offered by our three leading candidates, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama. The campaigns stress the need for a unified America, striving to provide opportunities for all citizens, regardless of race, gender or economic background.
Although there are dozens of issues that will play a part in the campaigns for president through the primary on Feb. 5 and onto the general election in November, I believe that three issues are particularly critical to most Georgians: the economy, health care and Iraq.
Americans are worried about the economy. The recent mortgage crisis, high gas prices and other factors have combined to create a general sense of concern. Sens. Clinton, Edwards and Obama set forth detailed plans to address economic issues. All three candidates focus on strengthening the middle class and creating opportunities for the poor, embracing the long-standing Democratic Party belief that our country is only as rich as her poorest citizen.
The campaigns hope to develop alternative fuels and lessen our energy dependence on the Middle East. Finally, the Democrats stress the need for fiscal responsibility in Washington. Despite the Republican party's characterization of Democrats as big spenders, the national debt has increased most rapidly under presidents Reagan and both Bushes.
Just as individuals in the United States must show maturity in their finances by saving and not spending more than they make, the federal government should work to reduce the national debt and pass balanced budgets.
We must find a way to ensure that all Americans have access to reasonable and affordable health care. The Democratic presidential candidates offer plans to achieve universal health care, and I urge you to visit the campaign Web sites at www.hillaryclinton.com , www.barackobama.com and www.johnedwards.com to learn more about the specific proposals.
Each presidential hopeful seeks to remove the primary power in health care from the insurance companies, and put it back in the hands of medical providers and consumers. Despite spending more money on our health system than any other country in the world, the United States consistently lags behind other nations when health care system indicators are measured.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. noted, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane." Quality, health care for everyone should always be our goal.
The Democratic presidential candidates share a common desire to bring our troops home from Iraq. As the human and financial costs in Iraq continue to increase at an alarming rate, the majority of Americans recognize that there does not appear to be a military solution to the problems in Iraq. Each of the Democratic campaigns articulates plans to end the war, while at the same time ensuring our ability to protect our country against terrorist threats emanating from Iraq and elsewhere around the globe.
I am proud to be part of a party whose presidential candidates reflect the diversity of America. I am proud to be a member of a party whose policy positions reflect the love for neighbor that I hear preached in church each Sunday.
I am proud to be a Democrat. Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or unaffiliated with either party, I hope you will participate in the political process and vote in the presidential primary on Tuesday, Feb. 5.