~a column by Colleen O’Brien
On Sunday at a farm northwest of Carroll, a reporter asked Democratic Presidential candidate Martin O’Malley a question similar to the above headline. The candidate managed to keep himself from rolling his eyes. To the reporter and earlier, during his speech and in conversations with supporters, he said these things: “I admire President Obama, and I supported him. He has served us well, and I share progressive goals with him. All presidents must build on former presidents. When elected, I will simply be the next president after him.”
Reporters ask leading questions, snotty questions, inappropriate questions and questions that are important to furthering the public’s knowledge. The latter is the business of a free press, but, alas, they often forget. Rather than the press, it was inquisitive people, some of them supporters, some merely the curious, in this particular audience who asked sensible questions. Some of O’Malley’s answers to some of the good questions Sunday were:
“The genius of our land is immigration.” This in answer to what he thinks of immigration problems.
“No other people leave their kids with a mountain of debt.” This in regard to student college loans that bankrupt our kids before they even get a job.
“A good trade treaty raises standards for workers and the environment.” This in regard to a question about his position on the Trans Pacific Partnership in Congress right now. O’Malley does not support this trade agreement because he thinks it’s too secret, it takes even more jobs away from the U.S. than we’ve given up to date and it doesn’t consider the environment.
“We live in a perverse system where there are no limits on super PACs,” he said. “Citizens United should be called ‘Citizens Don’t Matter.'” This O’Malley answer was in response to a negative ad under his name published by a super PAC. He told them of his “extreme displeasure” in their publishing anything negative against anyone, including Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (‘Bernie Sanders is no progressive when it comes to guns’) or, if it came up, to Hillary Clinton, the top runner in the Democratic field.
“Private prisons are a bad public/private partnership.”
“Clean energy by 2050 is our moral challenge.”
“We need to heal the world of racial prejudice, and we are all responsible for this.”
“It is always better to have many voices in a debate.”
“‘Health’ is the operative word when we’re talking about soil, air, water, children.” He was speaking about a collaborative process he initiated in his state of Maryland regarding the integrity of the giant estuary called the Chesapeake Bay. “We must emphasize health and security for our planet’s rivers and streams,” he added.
O’Malley is articulate without being glib; he is prepared, talks in sentences and speaks slowly, thoughtfully, when thinking out an answer to a difficult question. He says his main thrust in this campaign is to make sure people understand that it is a solid middle class that will save our country. In that light he believes in a minimum wage that can actually support a family, overtime pay always, collective bargaining and paid family leave.
He said he wants to work for affordable college, free rural broadband, a rebuilt infrastructure. His track record looks like efficiency, tackling big problems (crime, drugs, unemployment, education, balanced state budget, clean water) and involving everyone who might be connected even remotely to a public problem.
O’Malley said, “We elect presidents to make the tough decisions,” and he believes that “whoever we nominate for President will be first and foremost working on the middle class and their problems.” In a recent speech at the 2015 conference of the Truman National Security Project, he said, “America’s role in the world is to advance the cause of a rising global middle class free from oppression, free from want, free from fear.”
My favorite quote from the O’Malley rally from Martin O’Malley himself: “Our economy is not money, it is people. All of our people.”
I’ve been waiting to hear this line for many years.