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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 6, 2006

COMMENTARY
Americans deserve a just society for all

By Sen. Gary Hooser

If asked to choose between uncertainty and firmness, it has been said that the American people prefer firmness. The argument has been made repeatedly that President Bush is the embodiment of clear-cut, no-nonsense firmness.

Indeed, the president has been firm. He has been steadfast in launching a phony war and remained firm even as the argument for war unraveled. He was equally firm in asserting a phony victory even as the body count of Americans and Iraqis killed post "victory" kept mounting.

Yes, millions of Americans are uncertain. Uncertain about why this so-called global war on terror has made them feel less safe and less respected in the world. About why our leaders speak so readily about war and so rarely about peace. About why we are leaving our children a crushing burden of debt through this war while dithering about preserving Social Security and ensuring affordable healthcare for all. About why nearly 50 million Americans are uninsured. About why this administration is so relentless in trying to kill the inheritance tax an effort appropriately dubbed the "Paris Hilton Tax Relief Act" while doing next to nothing to provide relief to nearly 40 million Americans who have slid into poverty. About why that number is climbing for the fourth year in a row in the richest nation in the world. About why the Republicans are so determined not to raise the federal minimum wage for working Americans even as Congress raises its own pay.

Democrats will retake control of Congress in November, firmly committed to the "New Direction for America," which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently unveiled.

This is the firmness America needs to reverse the damage that has been done in recent years and it will touch the lives of ordinary Americans in many ways. It promises a just society with a firm commitment to affordable healthcare for all in rural as much as in urban communities.

The Democratic promise to lower the cost of prescription drugs and "put seniors ahead of pharmaceutical companies and HMOs" is a firm step toward reversing the current administration's bias in the other direction.

Making access to education more affordable through tax-deductions for tuition and reduced interest rates on student loans will help ensure a vibrant economy, equipped to maintain and improve its competitive edge. The underfunded accountability standards and testing that have passed for education reform cannot do what a really firm, locally adapted and properly funded commitment to better education will.

We need to start a national conversation and take meaningful steps toward policies that promote economic and environmental sustainability. With Democrats in control of Congress, we will be able to make firm our commitment to eliminating our nation's addiction to oil in place of the lip service that the issue gets from the Bush administration. And a firmly democratic nation has no business dismantling civil liberties the way this administration has, using fear to leverage public sentiment.

Yes, I believe Americans prefer firm commitments to endless spin. I believe Americans want the American Dream to be accessible to all, not clasped in the tight fist of a tiny percentage who are already rich. That's why I believe the Democrats will take back Congress, and I plan to be there when it happens.

State Sen. Gary Hooser represents District 7 (Kaua'i and Ni'ihau). He is a Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District.