Domestic Issues Make Obama-Biden the Better Choice

Domestic Issues Make Obama-Biden the Better Choice

By Ed Koch - September 30, 2008

Last Sunday, September 28th, I flew to Florida at the request of the Obama-Biden Democratic campaign for the purpose of speaking on their behalf in the Jewish condo community. Four years ago, in the last presidential campaign, I had flown to Florida at the request of the Bush-Cheney Republican campaign to rally support for that ticket.

I had announced back in 2004 that I did not agree with President Bush on a single domestic issue, but that I concluded that of the two men running for president representing the two major parties - Republican and Democratic - Bush understood the danger to Western civilization of international Islamic terrorism and John Kerry, in my opinion, did not; and that Bush was willing to take on Islamic terrorism, no matter the cost, while Kerry, in my opinion, did not treat confronting Islamic terrorism as a priority. The danger to Western civilization included the danger to Israel, located in a sea of Muslim states intent on destroying it as an outpost of Western civilization.

Here I was, four years later in those same Jewish communities, consisting of many retired New Yorkers, urging the Jewish residents of Florida to vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. On this trip, I told the four Jewish communities I visited - about 1,000 Jews in attendance in the aggregate - why I was there and why I was supporting Obama.

I told them why I supported President Bush four years ago, and that I had no regrets. I said there was an important difference now in that I believe the candidates and the political parties they represent understand the existential danger to Western civilization posed by Islamic terrorism. Since the candidates and parties all recognize the need to prevail against Islamic terrorism, the issues which distinguish the Democratic Party from the Republican Party have become more than relevant, they are now essential.

On the issue of abortion, Obama and Biden will safeguard a woman's right to choose recognized under the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. How? By President Obama filling the two or more vacancies expected to occur on the U.S. Supreme Court in the next four years with justices who support Roe v. Wade and preserving the right of abortion. In contrast, McCain would appoint judges who would override Roe v. Wade and allow abortion only in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. If Palin were to succeed McCain as president, there would be only one exception to barring all abortions and that would be to preserve the life of the mother. A raped woman and a child raped by her own father - an act of incest -- would be required to carry the fetus to term. How awful even to contemplate.

Obama and Biden would also protect the monthly Social Security stipends paid to beneficiaries. McCain and Palin would privatize Social Security which in today's stock market would have lowered the monthly amounts to be paid to beneficiaries and reduced their standard of living.

In the case of taxes, McCain would continue the practice of preferring the rich - the top two percent of taxpayers whose annual income exceeds $300,000, and who in the last Republican tax reduction legislation received 37 percent of the total tax reduction.

On the issue of gay rights, McCain and Palin, would continue with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy of preventing gays and lesbians from serving in the U.S. armed forces, while most of the NATO nations allow them to serve equally with heterosexuals.

I told the audiences when McCain selected Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate that, based on, among other positions, her reported interest in censoring library books in the town of Wasilla, Alaska of which she was mayor, "She scared the hell out of me." Her lack of basic information when it comes to the conduct of foreign affairs which she again demonstrated in interviews in the last week has reinforced my fear.

In one of the meetings I addressed, I asked the crowd of 300, how many intended to vote for the Democrats and how many for the Republicans. To my amazement, the overwhelming majority said they were voting for Obama and Biden, with three raising their hands in favor of McCain and Palin.

I told the crowd that, clearly, they needed no convincing by me on how to vote, but they now had to take an oath. I asked them to raise their right hands and repeat after me, "I solemnly swear that between now and November 4th, I will seek out ten people who are committed to voting for Obama and Biden and make certain they go to the polls on Election Day. So help me, God." They all took the oath and are now honor bound to do what they pledged to do.

Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.

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