>Western Tribune Column November 5 2008

>My column for Wednesday November 5, 2008. It was difficult to write a column in advance with the election this week. I chose to address the major criticism of Barack Obama, by addressing a comment made about me.

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The latest stone tossed my way was the label of “liberal, socialist Democrat” by a letter writer to this paper. If one must assign a label and liberal or conservative are the only choices, then yes, I am a liberal. But oddly enough, social democrats are by definition more to the center of the political spectrum, than, say, democratic socialists, who are more to the left.

So words and labels can be confusing. Positions are a better way to categorize people.

Yes, I believe in social justice. I believe that all people, regardless of their race, age, religion or sexual orientation should be afforded the same rights and responsibilities. Civil rights legislation (which was signed by a Democratic president) aims for social justice.

I believe in the social programs of today, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These also began under the leadership of Democrats. Most elderly people and their family members believe in these programs also. In fact, without these programs the health and well-being of many of our elderly would be compromised.

I support the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which was passed during the Clinton Administration and allows funds to be used to help provide coverage for uninsured children. Without this program, many children are at risk of poor health or death.

I support public education as long as the potential for quality education is distributed equally to all students. Traditionally, equality in education is supported by Democrats. A well educated individual is more likely to live a healthy lifestyle.

I have stated before in this column that healthcare is a right and that its provision is a moral issue. I look forward to the day when the quality of one’s health care does not depend on one’s income, possibly during the next administration.

Most of these programs began during my lifetime, and I have observed first hand that the quality of life for individual Americans improved with each. Most social programs either directly or indirectly affect the physical or mental health of individuals. As one who is trained in Public Health, I believe that elevating the health of Americans is one aspect of the greatness of our country.

I prefer the term “progressive” to describe my positions on the issues because U. S. policy is dynamic. To be conservative is to resist change, in spite of so much in need of change.

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