Political action can change nation’s course

Newton B. Jones, International President

IN FEBRUARY the Executive Council voted unanimously to endorse Senator Barack Obama for president of the United States. Our endorsement was not an easy decision. Many good candidates presented themselves. We studied them all and in the end determined that Obama is our best hope to unite our nation, jump-start the economy, and return the United States to its rightful place as not only the most powerful nation, but also the most respected nation.

Like our good friend John Edwards, we know that Obama will be a strong advocate for working families. His lifelong reputation for standing up for workers is built on the community organizing he did to help rebuild a neighborhood ravaged by the closing of a steel mill as much as it is by his work in the Illinois state legislature and as a U.S. senator. Hillary Clinton will support working families, too, but she will not be as good for Boilermakers as Obama. And although we respect John McCain for his service to our country, his voting record on issues that affect workers is terrible.

Throughout his campaign, Senator Obama has proposed workable solutions for many of the nation’s most pronounced problems. He wants to relieve the economic pressure middle class families are feeling by giving them tax cuts. He wants to create jobs here at home by providing tax incentives for businesses. And he wants to end incentives for employers to ship jobs overseas. He will invest in U.S. manufacturing and create training programs for workers forced out of work by the Bush recession as well as young people just entering the workforce.

Our construction and cement-making Boilermakers will like his energy policies, which we believe serve the interest of Boilermakers better than do the policies of any other candidate. He proposes to lower our greenhouse gas emissions without destroying jobs by supporting a cap-and-trade program, similar to the system successfully used to lower sulfur dioxide emissions. Senator Obama also understands the enormous impact that other industries have on global warming, and will create incentives to increase fuel economy standards and reduce deforestation and overgrazing.

Barack Obama is exciting voters as no candidate has done in decades.

Obama’s proposal for health care reform would give every American access to a plan similar to what members of Congress enjoy — and at an affordable cost. All Americans would be covered, regardless of employment status, and everyone would have access to high-quality care. He will lower medical costs by modernizing the U.S. health care system, reducing administrative overhead, and increasing access to preventive health care.

Most of all, we are enthused by the effect Senator Obama’s campaign is having on the voters. He is igniting voters — many of them young voters, new to the electoral process — with his passion for change that is sorely needed after seven years of Bush’s misguided policies. Voters are going to the polls in record numbers. Election officials project the turnout for the primaries will be the highest in 40 years. Many states are buying more voting equipment, because they anticipate a record turnout in November as well.

Voter enthusiasm for the electoral process is a welcome change. A democracy only works when the citizens get involved, and Obama is involving citizens like no one has in decades. I urge every Boilermaker to get involved as well. Get registered to vote. We have the opportunity to bring about real change in this election. But to do so, we must get involved in the process.

Make your vote an informed vote

WE IN THE EXECUTIVE Council recognize that not every Boilermaker member will agree with our endorsement. People are vastly different, and good people may disagree. We came to our decision after studying all of the candidates —– not only the positions they outline in their speeches, but also the attitudes toward working people and unions they have demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, through their actions and their accessibility.

I ask that all of you take the same care we did. A good citizen and union member has a responsibility to vote — but not just to vote blindly. Your responsibility is to cast an informed vote.

Senator Obama came into the national spotlight more recently than his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, or the Republican candidate, John McCain. He is a new face, and many people know little about him. I knew little about him until he announced his candidacy. But the more I learned, the more I liked his positions as well as his attitude about our union and our members. I encourage you to learn all you can about him, too. Visit his campaign Web site — www.BarackObama.com — and read about him in future issues of the Boilermaker Reporter as well as on the Boilermaker Web site — www.boilermakers.org. Learn about the other candidates, too. You cannot make a fair comparison unless you learn about them all.

In the coming months, the Department of Government Affairs will be sending information to local lodges, placing stories in the Reporter, and publishing articles on our Web site not only about presidential candidates but also about candidates for the House of Representatives, Senate, and governor.

Get informed, get active, and get to the polls. Make your vote count. The future of this union — indeed this nation — depends on it.

Paid for by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Campaign Assistance Fund, [phone: (703) 560-1493] and is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.