Cardin offers experience and leadership

November 01, 2006|By Barack Obama

Something big is happening in America today. Everywhere I go, people are more attentive, more serious about this election than they have been in a long time. There is a sense that we have finally reached a crossroads in this country - a time when folks are fed up with politicians who are all talk and no action; a time when people yearn for leaders who are ready to stop worrying about their own problems and start solving America's.

This is a moment for leaders like Ben Cardin.

For more than 40 years, Ben Cardin has delivered for the state of Maryland by fighting for a government that is more accountable, more effective and more responsive to the people it represents. He doesn't just talk about change; he's achieved it - reforming Maryland's property taxes, health care system and school finances to help working families during his time in the state legislature.

When he arrived in Congress, he could have kept his head down. He could have tried to score cheap political points. And he could have quietly gone along with this administration as it led us into a misguided and mismanaged Iraq war, exploded our country's debt and left Americans to face rising health care and tuition costs on their own.

But that's not who Ben Cardin is.

When this administration was handing out billions in tax breaks to millionaires who didn't need it, Ben Cardin was able to expand 401(k)s and IRAs to help more workers save for retirement. When health care costs were rising and Republicans looked the other way, Ben Cardin was able to expand Medicare to cover preventive screenings, and has been a leader in fighting to ensure that Medicare can negotiate with drug companies for cheaper prescriptions. And when the president took us to a war based on faulty intelligence and no plan to win the peace, Ben Cardin stood up and said "no."

This is the kind of principled leadership Maryland deserves in its next senator. People want someone who will stand up to President Bush when he's wrong but who isn't afraid to reach across the aisle when it's in Maryland's best interests, as Ben Cardin has on health care, pensions and welfare reform.

We stand on the precipice of great challenge and change in this young century. In the coming years, we will have to start answering the big questions again: How will our workers succeed in a global economy that's more competitive than ever? How will we defeat the threat of terror and keep Americans safe? How will we reconcile the competing values and different views in this country to unite behind a common purpose and common goals?

Answering these questions and succeeding at this moment will require a new kind of politics and a new kind of leadership than we've had over the last six years. This administration has squandered such opportunities in favor of an ideology that stays rigid, no matter how much the world changes or how many people disagree. A candidate who walks in lockstep with the president and his policies will only continue this misguided approach to governing in the years to come, and that's the type of leadership Maryland simply cannot afford.

We need Ben Cardin in the U.S. Senate. We need his experience, we need his voice, and we need him to be a part of a new leadership in this country that says America will not move forward divided against itself, but will be united in common purpose; that we will not settle for survival of the fittest, but will fight for survival of the nation; and that amid the toughest times and greatest challenges, we can make America believe again.

This is what's at stake Nov. 7, and this is why it's time to make Ben Cardin the next senator from the state of Maryland.

Barack Obama is a Democratic U.S. senator from Illinois.

This is the first in a series of opinion pieces on Maryland's U.S. Senate candidates.

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