The Case for Bill Richardson: Leadership for America

This diary is part of the candidate series for Bill Richardson on MyDD.  I am not part of his campaign.

Congressman, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of Energy and in his second term as Governor of New Mexico after a landslide victory in November 2006, Governor Bill Richardson is running for President to heal America and restore our place in the world. He possesses the experience, vision and leadership skills to be a great President.

Richardson is goal-oriented, assertive and confident. He has the ability to quickly evaluate a situation but is not rigid in his thinking and will modify policy when necessary. He takes a practical approach to governing, focusing on solutions to problems rather than ideology.

Richardson has been called a “force of nature.” When he served in Congress, he was regarded as one of the hardest working members, respected for his intelligence and detailed knowledge of the issues. In a profile earlier this year, Democratic state Senator Mary Jane Garcia stated, “It just never stops; it’s busy, busy, busy. He’s got an agenda like you can’t believe.”  New Mexican Republican Representative Dan Foley added, “People shouldn’t count him out. You won’t find a person who works harder.”

Richardson fights for the principals he believes in. I offer two of many examples:

First, while Secretary of Energy, against opposition in Congress and even criticism from within the Clinton Administration, Richardson acknowledged the Energy Department's long history of denying responsibility for workers' injuries at the nation’s nuclear weapons plants. He stated, “We need to right this wrong.”

Richardson successfully lobbied Congress to enact legislation providing payments and medical benefits to the workers that developed cancer and other serious diseases.

Second, in April 2007, Richardson spoke at Rally to Save the People of Darfur in San Francisco. He was the only Presidential candidate that attended, even though they were all in California that weekend for the California Democratic Party Convention.  Prior to speaking, a reporter asked Richardson why he was there. Richardson’s response was an inspiration to all fighting for social change: “You have to be part of the causes you believe in.”

Richardson has been to Sudan three times visiting refugee camps and negotiating the release of American aid workers and journalists. He has never given up on Africa.

Richardson has had an outstanding record as Governor of New Mexico.  He increased school funding, expanded health care coverage, extended civil rights protections to include sexual orientation, made New Mexico a model for the rest of nation in promoting clean energy and fighting global warming, while cutting taxes to promote sustainable growth and balancing the state budget. For his commitment to protecting the state’s environment, the Conversation Voters of New Mexico gave Richardson “a solid A.

Richardson understands that the Democratic Party must be the party of economic progress.  He has assisted the private sector in New Mexico in creating new, high paying jobs. He calls on Democrats to “stand for policies that encourage innovation and expand economic opportunity.”

On education policy, Richardson understands that No Child Left Behind sets up our public schools for failure.  Unlike the other major candidates that want to somehow fix and preserve NCLB, Richardson’s approach is simple and clear:  scrap it.  Richardson writes::

NCLB has failed. It has failed our schools, it has failed our teachers and it has failed our children. The Bush administration claims victories, but upon closer scrutiny it becomes clear that the White House is simply dressing up ugly data with fancy political spin. Far from leaving no child behind, President Bush seems to have left reality behind. 

On global warming and energy policy, Richardson has set forth the most detailed and aggressive plan of all candidates – calling for a 90% decrease in greenhouse emissions by 2050.  Dave Hamilton, the Sierra Club’s Director of Energy and Global Warming program, stated Richardson’s “18-page energy policy is much more aggressive than anything we’ve seen so far from the candidates.  It is also significantly better-elaborated in theory with regard to where we end up.”  

Richardson is the product of two nations, Mexico and the United States. His childhood friends included many of the poor in the neighborhood where his family lived in Mexico City.  He saw first hand the devastating impact of poverty on families and children. His bi-national upbringing necessitated understanding and then bridging two cultures. This laid the foundation for Richardson as an adult to become a peacemaker among nations and an expert in the art of diplomacy.

Richardson has articulated a new foreign policy for America which starts by recognizing the new challenges we face in the 21st century:

Jihadists and environmental crises have replaced armies and missiles as the greatest threats, and globalization has eroded the significance of national borders. Many problems that were once national are now global, and dangers that once came only from states now come also from societies—not from hostile governments, but from hostile individuals or from impersonal social trends, such as the consumption of fossil fuels.

Richardson calls on the U.S. to foster “the cooperation needed to solve the issues that face the modern world. The U.S. government needs to see the world as it really is — so that the United States can lead others to make it a better, safer place.”

On Iraq, Richardson has eloquently stated:

The War in Iraq is not the disease. Iraq is a symptom. The disease is arrogance. The next President must be able to repair the damage that’s been done to our country’s reputation over the last six years. It’s why experience in foreign affairs has never been more important.

Richardson has the best plan for ending the war in Iraq. He is only major candidate that has repeatedly and unequivocally called for the complete withdrawal of ALL American forces from Iraq.

The others candidates lack the confidence to stand up to the military and political establishment and follow the will of the American people.  They accept the argument that a complete withdrawal of all American forces would be “irresponsible.”  As Richardson wrote wrote in a recent Op Ed, “On the contrary, the facts suggest that a rapid, complete withdrawal — not a drawn-out, Vietnam-like process — would be the most responsible and effective course of action.”

The fundamental difference between Obama, Edwards and HRC verse Richardson on Iraq is that Richardson understands that by the U.S. remaining in Iraq, we unwittingly perpetuate the war.  Our troops have become the targets in a civil war.  The Iraqi government has become dependent on the U.S. for security the Iraqis should provide.  Richardson notes: “The Iraqis won't take the necessary steps toward political reconciliation until the U.S. makes it clear that it will leave the country for good.”

Likewise, without the direct and committed action by the President of the United States, Iraq will remain in chaos. Richardson is the only candidate with a track record of foreign policy success.  Richardson will lead a diplomatic offensive to bring peace and stability to the region.

That we must exit Iraq now is a message Richardson constantly delivers to voters.  He doesn't tailor his message to the audience. Yesterday, Richardson spoke on ending the war at two town halls in Iowa.  The first was at the National Guard Armory in Council Bluffs and second at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Sioux City.

In closing, with Richardson we get two for the price of one: an energetic, can-do leader on domestic issues and an experienced diplomat on foreign affairs.

  • my main question about Richardson

    right now is, does he want to win badly enough?

    I have identified a fair number of Richardson supporters and leaners in the Des Moines suburbs. They are in the demographic group where I also find support for Clinton (over age 50). They are looking for an experienced candidate.

    It seems that Richardson is trying to make gains among anti-war voters who might otherwise be attracted to Obama or Edwards. But I think he has greater potential to improve his numbers by going after voters who might otherwise be drawn to Clinton. He can say that he has at least as much Washington experience as Hillary, plus he’s got the experience as governor, but he is more electable than Hillary and is better on the environment and on Iraq.

    If Richardson wants to jump to the next level, I think he will need to target Hillary more explicitly. The Edwards and Obama supporters are not going to jump ship for Richardson.

    • All in due time

      Thanks as always for your insight.

      I’m sure each candidate has core supporters but  there could be substantial movement across the board.  So many of Obama supporters are caught up in the image of Obama.  Of course, they believe the image matches the reality.  If that doesn’t prove true in the coming months, his numbers could drop sharply.

      It looks like Richardson is stepping it up against HRC, though not explicitly yet. 

      According to a campaign press release he stated today, “Iowans know that the candidate our party sends to the White House must be someone with real-world experience to bring about real change. We do not need nostalgia. We do not need on-the-job training. We need proven leadership with real results.”

      Nostalgia is a clear reference to FLOTUS/Jr. Senator from NY. 

      Did you attend the steak fry?

      • I was there, but

        due to the inadequate sound system, I couldn’t hear Richardson’s speech from where I was very well.

        I will have to catch the repeat on C-SPAN.

    • of interest

      It sounds like a repeat of 2004.

      Caucusgoers waver before deciding among Democrats: http://desmoinesregi…

      • I've been saying for months

        that huge numbers of caucus-goers are undecided. This thing will be decided in late December and early January.

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