Leaves Us Vulnerable
As to the question of who can protect us against terrorists, President Bush spent more time perfecting his landing on the infamous "Mission Accomplished" flight deck so he could have an image-making photo op than he did planning the security of Baghdad.
How can we believe the man will be able to protect us when he couldn't even protect the world-class museum in Iraq from being looted by thugs? He still thinks we are on the right course in Iraq, despite rising casualties and intelligence reports that show a bleak future for that country.
The Bush administration is good at marketing -- "selling the sizzle, not the steak" -- and for taking credit for successes that haven't materialized. But this election is about more than choosing the better "performer," as if we were watching "American Idol." It's about the direction and soul of our country. It's about the safety of ourselves and our children and their children.
Bush is not making the world safer. Our ports are insecure. Our trucking practices have not been sufficiently modified to prevent hazardous materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. Our trains lack security procedures. We are being badly led by a man who has nothing at risk and never has had anything at risk. How could he understand what it means to feel insecure?
Vote for the Environment
In 2002, I attended a legislative work session conducted by the Virginia Association of Counties and, as a Loudouner, I remember the embarrassment I felt as this large group of county boards of supervisors and administrators groaned when anti-environmental legislation promoted by Loudoun's own Del. Richard H. Black (R) was discussed.
On Sept. 18, I attended the Virginia Environmental Assembly and experienced that same sense of shame. I was joined by other Loudouners who literally begged the keynote speaker, Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (R), to come to Loudoun, speak with our board and plead for sustainable development that protects our natural resources and works to the benefit of all Virginia taxpayers.
While there, I picked up the 2004 Virginia General Assembly Conservation Scorecard from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, a nonpartisan political arm of Virginia's conservation community. It was a shocker. Black's voting record was given a zero. That's a big goose egg for Goose Creek, the source of drinking water for the 32nd District. Should a district whose northern boundary is formed by the Potomac River not have as its advocate in the General Assembly someone who respects the important role this river plays in the lives of the 5 million people who inhabit the Potomac River basin?
Virginia voters polled in 2003 were more concerned about clean water and air than traffic congestion and the economy. Eighty-seven percent of Virginians think conservation issues such as the quality of our drinking water, the disposal of our waste and the sanctity of our remaining open spaces are important factors when deciding how to vote.
Therefore, in deciding whom to vote for in 2004, Virginia voters need to learn about candidates' positions on environmental issues. Endorsements from key environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters are helpful. With a little research, voters in 2003 would have learned that Black is a "zero" on conservation issues, earning neither the Virginia League of Conservation Voters nor the Sierra Club's endorsement, and that none of the Republican majority on the Board of Supervisors received endorsements from the Sierra Club.
With a little research, voters in 2004 will learn that environmental issues to consider also include toxic waste cleanup and renewable energy, and that the Sierra Club emphatically awarded its endorsement to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, noting not only Kerry's outstanding leadership in safeguarding America's air, water and public lands but also President Bush's all-out assault on the environment. The League of Conservation Voters named Bush and Vice President Cheney tops on its "Dirty Dozen" list as officeholders who consistently vote against the environment. Meanwhile, Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) has "earned" a zero rating from the Sierra Club, yet another goose egg delivered on Loudoun.
Virginians love our land. We all want clean air, clean water and protection of our natural resources and public health. We care about the integrity of the environment in the commonwealth left to our children and grandchildren. We deserve elected officials who are responsive to us and our hopes for a protected environment. And we certainly deserve elected officials who are clean of a dismal zero rating. The ballot is a powerful way to ensure that, this year, in 2005 and in 2007.
(The author is communications chairman of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.)