As the American public continues to voice their frustration with Washington, there is a temptation to channel that discontent into voting out incumbents, the people perceived to have created the burdens we currently carry as a country.
This idea that we can just “clean house” and elect a bunch of people who will walk into Congress and immediately fix everything is a dangerous one, and voting out incumbent Democratic senator Barbara Boxer in order to send a message would be a mistake, not only because she is good at her job, but because it would leave us with something much worse than what we have now.
Boxer, who is running for a fourth term in the U.S. Senate, was re-elected in 2004 with the largest number of votes of any Senate candidate in history and she continues to be popular in the most recent polls. A September report by the Public Policy Institute of California showed Boxer leading among likely voters by more than six points.
With so many Democratic congressional seats in play this November, California voters seem to be happy with Boxer’s work, and they should be.
In her 28 years in Washington, first in the House of Representatives for 10 years and then the Senate, she has a staggering record of introducing and supporting legislation to protect women’s rights, the environment, civil rights, immigration reform, and increased funding for public education.
Boxer uses corporate tax breaks for the right things, like for companies who donate new or nearly new computers to schools or for corporations that reinvest profits from overseas back into America, as seen in the Invest in USA Act provision she co-authored with Republican senator John Ensign.
She co-sponsored the DREAM Act, a bill aimed to help the children of undocumented immigrants gain citizenship by serving in the military or going to college. She also co-sponsored the Ag Jobs bill, which provides a path to permanent residency for agricultural workers.
A woman’s right to have an abortion, something many of us are too young to appreciate, came after a hard-fought fight by the women’s movement and it is always at risk of being taken away. Boxer has fought to maintain that right when it has been legally threatened, like when she opposed a bill that would ban late-term abortions even when the mother’s life is in danger.
She was one of only 23 senators who voted against the Iraq war. Not only did she vote against it, but she introduced a bill that would have required the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress every month with a detailed account of the costs of military action and how many troops were deployed in the region. Republicans unanimously defeated Boxer’s pursuit of government accountability for the American people.
Now everyone is decrying how the enormous price tags on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have depleted the nation’s bank account, and I, for one, would like to give her some credit for at least trying to make the whole thing transparent.
Ironically, Republican candidate Fiorina is campaigning on a platform of restoring the states’ finances and she is pointing at Boxer as an example of someone who doesn’t know how to manage government money, instead of members of her own party.
Fiorina wants you to believe that her years as the chief executive officer at Hewlett-Packard qualify her to be a senator of California who can create jobs and lift the state’s dismal 12 percent unemployment rate.
And to be sure, her business resume is impressive, but not impressive enough, as a recent editorial in the Mercury News pointed out, to win the endorsement of the CEO of Cisco Systems John Chambers, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and even eBay CEO John Donahoe, all of whom support Boxer. If Fiorina was going to be so good for business, wouldn’t they be on her side?
Voting for Boxer is not going to radically improve life as we know it; she isn’t running on that kind of promise. She’s running on her record of doggedly fighting for federal dollars to improve California’s business environment and educational standards, to preserve the state’s environmental resources and to protect the civil rights of Californians.
Those are realistic fights that she has already delivered on, and that’s why Barbara Boxer deserves your vote.