NC Primary Profile: Barack Obama

Upcoming primaries should be important to students for a number of reasons. First, The North Carolina primary is on May 6, and for the first time in recent memory, the democratic nominee has not yet been decided. Two candidates remain, and each needs a majority of the remaining seven primaries.

Barack Obama is an Illinois senator and is the current front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama was born in Hawaii as the son of a Kenyan father and an American mother. Both of his parents were in the military, thus moving around a lot as Obama was growing up. The Obamas lived in several locations across the U.S. before moving to Indonesia and eventually coming back to New York. Obama graduated from Columbia University in 1983. After college, Obama worked as a community organizer in Chicago helping underprivileged families get back on their feet. These experiences have helped shape his political career into a diverse understanding of several different groups of people and locations they call home all across the U.S.

Important issues for the Obama campaign include the environment, the economy, and foreign policy.

Perhaps one of the most prominent issues for this election is the war in Iraq. Obama opposes both the decision to go to war and the way this war has been conducted.

“Conventional thinking in Washington lined up for war,” said Obama. “Despite – or perhaps because of- how much experience they had in Washington, too many politicians feared looking weak and failed to ask hard questions. Too many took the President at his word instead of reading the intelligence for themselves…I will end the war in Iraq… I will close Guantanamo. I will restore habeas corpus. I will finish the fight against Al Qaeda. And I will lead the world to combat the common threats of the 21st century: nuclear weapons and terrorism, climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.”

Obama has not wavered in his protest of the war. In 2003 and 2004, he spoke out against the war in Iraq. In 2005, he called for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops. In 2006 he called for a timetable to remove troops. In 2007 he introduced legislature in the Senate to remove all our troops from Iraq. Also in 2007, he laid out a detailed exit strategy for Iraq if he were to become president.

Obama is also passionate about the environment and the energy crisis. He believes rising energy prices and the toll oil use takes on the environment can be fought by raising the production standard of oil and the machines that use it.

“I believe it’s [climate change] one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation. That’s why I’ve fought successfully in the Senate to increase our investment in renewable fuels. That’s why I reached across the aisle to come up with a plan to raise our fuel standards…when I am president, there will be no more excuses – we will help them retool their factories, but they will have to make cars that use less oil.”

Obama’s plans for the environment and rising oil prices include a gradual move away from the United States’ dependency on oil. He wants to reduce oil emissions 80% by 2050 and improve energy efficiency 50% by 2030. Obama supports the next generation of biofuels and plans to invest in the future of clean energy.

Obama’s campaign also focuses on the economy and how to keep the U.S. out of a recession. He believes the free market economy has work to improve the standard of living for all citizens, not just those at the top.

“I believe that America’s free market has been the engine of America’s great progress,” said Obama. “It’s led to a standard of living unmatched in history…We are all in this together. From CEOs to shareholders, from financiers to factory workers, we all have a stake in each other’s success because the more Americans prosper, the more America prospers.”

If elected, Obama plans to extend tax cuts to working middle-class Americans and simplify tax filings. He plans to refocus the North America Free Trade Agreement on helping a majority of working Americans. Obama supports job creation through an investment in U.S. manufacturing. Obama also plans to raise the minimum wage.

Obama also understands and values the importance of a college education. He wants students to be able to afford college without going into debt and paying for it the rest of their lives.

“I hope to inspire students to reach up, and to grab the first rung of the ladder that will get them on the right track to success. It’s about time we make college affordable and accessible to every American. We’re going to make more grants instead of loans, make sure you can afford college.”

Obama also hopes his campaign will encourage young voters to get involved, or at least interested in the politics of today.