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August, 2007



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A Look At A "Lesser" Candidate
By Karen Nakamura

"There is a reason we have laws and why we expect our Presidents to obey them. Institutions have a collective wisdom greater than that of any one individual." New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson speaking on July 7 about Pres. Bush's commutation of Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Richardson could have been talking about the distain fellow presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, showed for the voting process when they were caught with the mike on agreeing to knock lesser candidates off the podium so future debates wouldn't be "trivialized."
Therefore, to further democracy, this series of articles will look at those "lesser candidates" and how they compare with progressive/liberal views. Last month we examined the candidates' views on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This month we'll look at Bill Richardson who's fond of saying;

"This should be a race about who's got the best plan for this country, who's got the credentials to lead...not who's the biggest rock star or who has the most money or the most political legacies."

Bill Richardson was born on November 15, 1947 in Pasadena, but lived in Mexico most of his youth where his father was a banker. He is acknowledged by many to be the most qualified candidate. He's also the unacknowledged Latino candidate. "I'm trying to convey that I'm a mainstream American governor who's very proud to be Hispanic," Richardson said. "I don't try to be a wedge candidate. I've never wanted to be categorized as a professional Hispanic. I want to compete with everybody."

A congressman for 14 years, he specialized in foreign relations, visiting Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, India, North Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria, the Sudan and recently Darfur, representing U.S. interests. He also served as Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Native American Affairs sponsoring the Indian Tribal Justice Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments and the Tribal Self-Governance Act.

In 1995, according to Wikipedia, he went to Baghdad and engaged in lengthy one-on-one negotiations with Saddam Hussein to secure the release of two Americans. He also negotiated the release of prisoners in the Sudan and North Korea. He helped the Republic of the Congo achieve democracy and negotiated a fragile truce in Darfur in January.

Clinton appointed Richardson as Ambassador to the United Nations where he worked on policy concerning Palestine and Israel. He also negotiated the mandate of the UN program for ecologically sustainable development. In 1998, he was appointed U.S. Secretary of Energy, a cabinet position.

Elected New Mexico's Governor in 2002, he was the only Hispanic governor at the time. In his first year, Richardson supported a broad personal income tax cut. New Mexico became the first state to provide $400,000 in life insurance for its active duty National Guard. Forbes magazine named Albuquerque the best U.S. city for business and careers and credited Richardson. The Cato Institute rates Richardson as "one of the most fiscally responsible Democratic governors in the nation." He's also been Chairman of the Democratic Governor's Association and nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In December 2006, Richardson was named "Special Envoy for Hemispheric Affairs" for the Organization of American States with a mandate to promote dialogue on important issues such as immigration and free trade.

Concerning immigration, his website says "We need ...better border security and comprehensive immigration reform ...that provides for a guest worker program with a realistic ...path to legalization. And we must abandon this notion of building a fence along the border. No fence ever built has stopped history and this one wouldn't either."

Wikipedia reports: "During ...2003, he met with a delegation from North Korea at their request to discuss concerns over that country's use of nuclear energy. At the request of the White House, he also flew to North Korea in 2005 and 2006."

He stresses investment in public education, including a minimum $40,000 annual salary for teachers and increased access to affordable health care, especially for veterans. "Why can't the strongest, most powerful nation in the world say 'thank you' to its veterans with a 'hero's health card' get care anywhere they want?"

Gov. Richardson has stated: "As a former UN Ambassador and a diplomat, I know that just as poverty-stricken neighborhoods produce crime, poverty-stricken states produce terrorism. Ending world poverty is thus not only a moral imperative it is vital to the security of the United States." He vows to never sign a trade agreement that "takes jobs away from our people."

Richardson has a 7-point plan to make America a "Clean Energy Nation". His rallying cry is "Act Boldly and Act Now." By 2020 cut oil demand by 50%, reduce oil imports to 10-15% with 100mpg cars and double CAFâ standards to 50 mpg. Create new electrical energy sources by 50% by 2040 with a 30% national renewable standard and a 20% improvement in energy production by 2020 leasing to 50% by 2040.

Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050, ten years faster than necessary because "we can't afford the possibility of backsliding and inaction." Starts with a market-based cap and trade system to create incentives for industry to reduce carbon emissions. Returns to international negotiations, support mandatory, worldwide limits on global warming pollution.

"We will create more than ten times as much value in the American economy by reducing our oil imports as we spend to make this program happen. ...Oil companies... have been raking in huge profits. But I want to invite them to ...invest in our thriving new energy economy. They are invited to the table, but they aren't going to run the table the way they have for the last six years." The bottom line: "The way out of the cycle is to create technologies and alternative fuels. It's about creating a new energy economy here in the United States, and doing it quickly, with broad, bold strokes.

Reaching into other issues, Richardson states "We need to ...remember what this country used to be," Richardson says. "I will follow the constitution. America is not going to be known for eliminating habeas corpus and torturing prisoners. We're not going to be known for Guantanamo. ...First and foremost, we must repair our alliances, [We must] shift aid from loans to grants for the poorest countries, ...and seek agreements, which seriously address wage disparities, worker rights, and the environment. And it means respecting the Geneva Conventions and joining the International Criminal Court. We must join the Kyoto protocol ...then go well beyond it.

Info gathered from candidate's web site, Wikipedia, Yahoo News and the Associated Press.

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