I hope that most of you reading this plan on going to New Hampshire to canvass at least once. If you haven't already, regardless of which candidate you support, please go -- if only for the warm, fuzzy feeling you get at the end of the day when you realize that you won over voters in one of the most competitive states in the country.
I know that you don't need another column telling you to support Barack Obama. But you might need another reason to spend a full day in a state full of strangers who slam doors in your face, saying they've heard it before. That reason is Jeanne Shaheen.
If you have been to New Hampshire, then she should be familiar to you. After all, the walls of the Obama Headquarters in Nashua are plastered with signs displaying her name. Chances are, though, that you don't know much about her beyond the fact that she's on the ballot under Obama and that you were supposed to ask voters if they planned to support her this November. If you have yet to visit New Hampshire, you have probably never heard about her at all.
Well, Shaheen is running to become the first female senator in New Hampshire history, and she's a Democrat. That alone should not automatically inspire you to support her.
Sure, you have read that a President Obama will need an expanded majority in the Senate (I'm still holding out for the filibuster-proof 60) to pass his ambitious agenda. But you might want to know how Jeanne Shaheen actually differs from her opponent, incumbent GOP Sen. John Sununu. I'm happy to oblige.
As governor, Shaheen created 66,000 new jobs and turned around a budget deficit. Sounds like a person the Senate could use as it struggles to deal with a national economic crisis, doesn't it? Someone responsible for crafting budgets probably has a unique perspective to bring to the negotiations over a $700 billion bailout plan.
Compare that to Sununu, who voted for George Bush's budgets that helped get us into this mess, opposed raising the minimum wage and supported tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs. Thanks, in part, to Sununu's votes, we have a tremendous deficit and our jobs are moving overseas.
In 2006, Republicans were swept out of power throughout the country because they supported Bush's reckless foreign policy and the disastrous war in Iraq. Many of you support Obama with such fervor because of his anti-war policies; his foreign policy inspires me even more than his lofty rhetoric. He will have a friend in Shaheen.
She (or at least one of her staff members) writes on her Web site that we cannot continue this war indefinitely. And why should we invest taxpayers' money in Iraq -- a nation that enjoys a surplus? When we have collapsing bridges and children without health care, we need to rethink our priorities.
Shaheen will also be an effective advocate for women. Let's face it: Having just 16 female members in the world's greatest deliberative body is an embarrassment.
She believes that having an abortion is a decision best made by a woman, her family, her physician and her god. (Assistant Professor of Political Science Jennifer Lawless tells me that's the most effective -- i.e., poll-tested -- way to phrase the issue, anyway.)
Sununu is no defender of women's rights. He has not voted in line with the interests of NARAL Pro-Choice America even once since 2000. Students for Choice, take note: We need to get Sununu out of Congress, ASAP.
The contrasts don't end there. On arguably the biggest issue facing us today --our reliance on oil --Shaheen and Sununu strongly disagree. EmPOWER, are you listening?
Fifty-nine senators voted to invoke cloture on a failed motion to reduce tax breaks for Big Oil an instead invest in renewable energies. Sixty senators were needed. It doesn't take a math genius to figure out that this bill, which would have helped move our economy towards energy independence, was defeated by a single vote.
Sununu cast that deciding vote against investing in green technology. That's why we need more politicians like Shaheen, who constantly promises to subsidize alternative fuels.
Unless we support candidates like Jeanne Shaheen, potential-President Obama's pro-choice, anti-war, pro-environment agenda will die in the arcane halls of the Senate.
So when you next go canvassing, realize that you didn't just support an inspiring presidential nominee, but also a phenomenal senatorial one. I'll see you this Sunday?