Five Reasons To Support Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson is goal-oriented, assertive and confident.  He has served as a Congressman, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of Energy and is in his second term as Governor of New Mexico after a landslide re-election victory in November 2006.  

Here are five of many reasons why I believe Richardson possesses the experience, vision and leadership skills to be a great President:

1.  A Bright Vision for America
2.  An Ironclad Promise to Promptly End the U.S. Occupation of Iraq
3.  A Bold Agenda To Address The Pressing Challenges Facing Our Nation and Planet
4.  The White House and A Landslide Victory for Democrats Nationwide in 2008
5.  Comprehensive Immigration Reform In Accordance With the Values Upon Which Our Country Was Founded

This was originally posted on MyDD as part of its candidate series.  I am not part of the Richardson campaign.

1. A Bright Vision for America

Richardson believes in using government to improve the lives of people and affect change in a positive way.  He takes a practical approach to governing, focusing on solutions to problems rather than ideology.  His vision for America is to be "a nation of opportunity and prosperity for all and guaranteeing real security for all our people."

Earlier this year, in a speech to the Arab American Institute in April 2007, Richardson stated:

Here at home, we must adhere and protect the words, spirit and life of our Constitution for America is not just a country, it is a belief.  A belief in a right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  A belief that every man and woman has the right to elect their government and a belief in freedom, justice and equality.  America is the land of opportunity, but we have much to do to ensure that America is the land of equality of opportunity.

To get an insight into Richardson the person, I suggest you watch the following videos.  The first features the person who knows him best, Barbara Richardson, his wife of thirty-five years:  

The second is a profile of Richardson by Charles Gibson of ABC News:

2.  An Ironclad Promise to Promptly End the U.S. Occupation of Iraq

Rocky Anderson, human rights activist and the mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, has endorsed Richardson.  In an essay in the Nation, Anderson states:

If ending the tragic, self-destructive occupation of Iraq is indeed a line-in-the-sand issue, only Bill Richardson stands out among the leading candidates as the choice for President.

While Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards refuse to pledge an end to the occupation, even by 2013, Bill Richardson commits clearly to pulling out all US troops. He recognizes that the occupation is widely despised, aiding in the recruitment of terrorists beyond Osama bin Laden's wildest dreams.

Richardson's consistent message on the necessity for a prompt and complete withdrawal from Iraq is resonating with Iowa voters.  This week STAR*PAC (Stop the Arms Race Political Action Committee of Iowa) endorsed Richardson.  Harold Wells, Chair of STAR*PAC, explained why:

Governor Richardson has consistently promised to get all the troops out of Iraq within one year and probably as soon as six months. He promises he will leave no residual troops behind.  And his message is the same wherever he speaks -- to a military audience in Georgetown, a New Hampshire town meeting, in a rural Iowa community or at STAR*PAC's candidate forum with the Governor in August. Three generals -- General Volney Warner, General William Odom and Lt. General Robert Gard -- support Richardson's plans to get the troops out of Iraq.

Richardson observes that a complete withdrawal gives us the leverage we now lack to get the warring factions to compromise, while our presence fuels the insurgency.  In an Op Ed published in the Washington Post entitled "Why We Should Exit Iraq Now," Richardson wrote:

So long as American troops are in Iraq, reconciliation among Iraqi factions is postponed. Leaving forces there enables the Iraqis to delay taking the necessary steps to end the violence. And it prevents us from using diplomacy to bring in other nations to help stabilize and rebuild the country.

The presence of American forces in Iraq weakens us in the war against al-Qaeda. It endows the anti-American propaganda of those who portray us as occupiers plundering Iraq's oil and repressing Muslims. The day we leave, this myth collapses, and the Iraqis will drive foreign jihadists out of their country.

To hear Richardson explain his plan for Iraq, the imperative for all of our troops to leave Iraq as well as discussing the approach the U.S. should take on Iran through seeking common ground, listen to the following interview on News Hour with Jim Lehrer:

3.  A Bold Agenda To Address The Pressing Challenges Facing Our Nation and Planet

Being the sole Democratic candidate for President with executive branch experience, voters can evaluate Richardson from the unique stand point of an actual record of implementing policy on key issues, not merely the speeches he has given.  Each year, the Conservation Voters of New Mexico releases a Legislative Scorecard breaking down the votes on key bills impacting the environment. The CVNM also rates the Governor. This year, the CVNM gave Richardson an "A".

Richardson recognizes that the threats to our environment extend beyond our borders:

A hungry world will also hunger for scapegoats. A thirsty world will thirst for revenge. A world in crisis will be a world of anger and violence and terrorism.

He has set forth a global agenda to address the welfare of the human race, linking climate change, poverty, international disease and war.  

On the critical issue of climate change, Richardson has offered the most aggressive plan of any candidate, proposing to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050.  In a book published this week, entitled In LEADING BY EXAMPLE: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution, Richardson argues that the U.S. should start a ten-year program immediately to eliminate its dependence on overseas oil and address global warming.  

One reviewer of the book has stated,

Can you believe this? Bill Richardson has written a truly exciting book. This is the book we've been waiting for - the one that takes us from the stage of awareness that Al Gore produced two years ago to the society that takes control of destiny and begins to live in global wealth, health and security.

Richardson begins by describing the existing current lag in leadership. America needs to reposition its image in the spirit that it has long held. Sacrifice and inspiration are essential to that image. With the image and presence of a compassionate America, nations will succeed in lifting themselves from tyranny, depression, illness and tragedy. We cannot afford to confuse our image as a people - that image that produces inspiration through compassion - with one that will overrun other nations to satisfy an addiction for oil.

4.  The White House and A Landslide Victory for Democrats Nationwide in 2008

I written previously that Richardson will be Karl Rove's worst nightmare.  With Richardson at the head of the Democratic ticket, no longer would the fate of the Democratic candidate rise or fall on the outcome of one state.  

We would start with the same states carried by Senator Kerry in 2004.  Add in Richardson's Latino heritage and Western values as well as economic policies and stance on 2nd Amendment issues, Richardson becomes the ideal Democratic candidate to convert Red states to Blue.

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato recently made the same argument in an interview:
 

He is unbeatable. It is amazing the Democrats haven't recognized that.  Republicans will tell you privately that if the Democrats nominate Bill Richardson the election is over. They know they will lose to Bill Richardson. He is perfectly positioned.

Now contrast Richardson's appeal with the current front runner and most well known Democratic politician in America. Even though opinion polls show most Americans believe our country is headed in the wrong direction and prefer a Democrat to succeed Bush, when Clinton is matched up against Giuliani the race is a dead heat.  Why?  More people rate Clinton negative on the quality of honesty than positive.  The Democrats will win in a landslide in 2008, if Richardson is at the top of the ticket.

5.  Comprehensive Immigration Reform In Accordance With the Values Upon Which Our Country Was Founded

Before the campaign commenced, Richardson called for comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens our borders while also providing a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.  

Last year, Biden, Clinton, Dodd and Obama caved into the anti-immigrant pressure groups in voting for a massive, 700-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.  Richardson has repeatedly called the fence ineffective and a terrible symbol for America.  In his view, it also creates a disincentive for Mexico to cooperate with the U.S. - which is essential for stopping illegal immigration.

On the current hot issue of the day - drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants - Dodd and Edwards are now talking like Republicans.  Edwards flip on this issue is especially revealing.  Here is a candidate that time and time again has proclaimed, "We are past the time for cautious, poll-driven politics."  Yet, Edwards has seen the polls and changed his position to that which serves his short term political advantage.

Richardson doesn't play the anti-immigrant card.  He signed legislation in New Mexico that gave licenses to all persons without proof of citizenship.  When this topic was raised in a recent interview, Richardson commented:

MATTHEWS:  Governor, what would you have said to that same question?  Were you on base with regard to whether we should give, at the state level, driver's licenses to the people in the country illegally?  

RICHARDSON:  I would have said yes.  You know, four years ago, my legislature sent me a bill to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.  I signed it, because my law enforcement people asked me to do it.  They said it was a matter of public safety, that we want safe drivers on the roads.  Insurance—uninsured drivers has gone down in New Mexico, from 33 percent to 11 percent, since I signed that bill.  It's a matter of being safe on the highways and also knowing where they are.  I think Senator Clinton should have just said yes.  It sounded like she agreed with the governor.  She did fumble that.

To hear Richardson discuss his plan on immigration, listen to the above video clip, the interview on News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

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Finally, I'd like to comment on the issue of the day - the confirmation vote on Michael Mukasey.  The vote on Mukasey was a vote the Dems in the Senate could have won if they showed a spine.  Mukasey needed 51 votes to be confirmed.  Biden, Dodd, Clinton and Obama were all missing in action.

Richardson spoke out first against Mukasey. On October 19th, prior to any statements by the other Presidential candidates, Richardson stepped forward and criticized Mukasey for refusing to say whether waterboarding is torture:

"Waterboarding is torture, and anyone who is unwilling to identify it as such is not qualified to be the chief legal officer of the United States of America. If I were in the U.S. Senate, I would vote against Mukasey unless he denounces such specific forms of torture.

"Torture does not work. Mistreatment backfires and destroys our international leadership, as we saw with Abu Ghraib. Torture also endangers our own troops. The standards we adopt may well be what our own troops are subjected to.

"Anytime one makes a person think he or she is being executed, the very nature of waterboarding, it obviously is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, international law, and basic human decency. . .

"If another nation engaged in waterboarding against American citizens, we would denounce that country and call the practice barbaric, and rightly so.

"We must stand against torture without equivocation, without compromise, and without exception. Torture is a violation of everything we stand for as Americans and as human beings."

Shame on the Democrats that voted for Mukasey and those that didn't show up at all.  This was not a vote on one person.  It was a vote on whether the U.S. government or agents acting for our government may commit torture in the name of national security.  

Persons without a moral compass should not hold political power.  And no surprise here - people under torture say what they believe their interrogators want them to say.  The result is we get false and misleading information when we practice torture.  

The results can be devastating.  We went to war with Iraq in part because of intelligence based on the torture.  I suggest everyone read Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes.  It is a fascinating history of the CIA.  At page 487, he states:

[CIA Director George] Tenet provided his own grim warnings in a secret hearing before the Senate intelligence committee on September 17:  'Iraq provided al Qaeda with various kinds of training - combat, bomb-making, and chemical, biological, radiological and nucler.'  He based that statement on the confessions of a single source - Ibn al-Shakh al-Libi, a fringe player who had been beaten stuffed in a two-foot-square box for seventeen hours, and threatened with prolonged torture.  The prisoner had recanted after the threat of torture receded.  Tenet did not correct the record.

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