I went to hear Gov. Richardson at the Rockingham Democrats Clambake this afternoon. First of all it was a chance to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen for a couple of months, having been completely taken up, politically, in my own town issues and election. I caught up with some of the Carol campaign folks and some of the state reps and other candidates I was involved with as both town chair and campaign manager for my husband’s run for state rep. (He didn’t win this time, but may try again next year.) I got to hear my congresswoman give another concise and powerful description of what she has been doing, and to hear three people who are probably going to vie for the chance to take out Sununu.
Gov. Richardson spoke about what he would do in the “first six days” of his presidency. He hit all the points that a Democrat will need to hit, Iraq, education, healthcare, etc. I had come into the afternoon interested in his foreign policy credentials, and he did not disappoint. I had heard a couple of things in the blogosphere that concerned me about his position on choice, but he was unequivocal in his support. He said nothing about civil rights to raise any flags with me. I tend to like Democratic governors as candidates, because they have had the challenge of actually running something, rather than debating it. (Perhaps having been a selectman in my town biases me toward people who successfully run a governmental entity, since I know how hard even a town can be.)
Perhaps the only place where I had some discomfort was in his talk about education. For most of us in NH, this is the really distressing issue at home, because we are in such a bind with our funding. He said a lot about accountability, and bringing back our preeminence in math and science, but I just didn’t end up feeling that his heart was in it. I would say his approach needs more work. It just had no coherence for me, no sense that he really had a solution.
This may be because I think that education is so wrapped up in all the other issues that impact our children that discussing it as if it were in another room from healthcare, and the increase in poverty and the disdain for women and children that pervade our society today, despite all the talk of “family values,” is just missing the point. It is almost impossible to educate a child who is not healthy, well-fed, feeling loved and part of a “family” (whatever form that may take), and with parent figures who find value in learning and have time for their children.
I don’t think any of our social issues are going to have a chance to be fixed until we change our whole value system. We need to be willing to really plan for a future for our children, and so many of the evils we are now undergoing have to do with a devaluation of human existence. I am not talking “pro-life” in the sense the right means it, which stops as soon as you are born. I am talking about making a world where every child in every country has a chance to live a decent life with enough food, medical care, and love from the community. There is no reason we can’t do that, except the greed and aggression that seem to be the “values” we have been worshipping for far too long.
So I come back to NH, where we just can’t seem to really agree that children are our future and must come first. We are a rich state and have managed to get away with not funding education or healthcare adequately because there is almost enough money to do a passable job. If we were a poorer state, with lower per capita incomes, the way we fund schools would be a disaster. But this is no excuse not to change our attitudes and make our children a priority.
I have no children or grandchildren in NH schools. This does not make me care less. The years that I have left will be better, selfishly, if the citizens of my state, my country and my planet are healthy, well-educated, community-oriented people, and that can only happen if they are cared for as children.
There has been discussion of whether we should be looking for vision in our candidate for President, or looking for policies. I think we need both, because policy with no vision driving it is hollow. I think that is what was lacking today in Richardson’s talking about education. He has no real vision, so it sounded like a laundry list. Certainly not something to rule him out at all, just something he needs to work on.
We are facing an embarrassment of riches as Democrats this year. The Republicans are simply facing embarrassment. I came away liking Richardson more than when I went in, and I hear much the same from others who have heard other candidates. Not a bad place to be at all. What a difference winning an election makes!