Guest Voz: Marian Wright Edelman — Judging the Candidates on Their Records

By Marian Wright Edelman
LatinaLista — Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Washington, D.C.-based Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is “to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.”

Marian Wright Edelman
Her name has become synonymous with children’s rights and throughout her illustrious law and nonprofit career has championed time and time again the rights of those who are most vulnerable, innocent and voiceless.
As Election Day draws near, Ms. Edelman shares with Latina Lista the barometer she uses to determine which candidate has proven to be on the side of children and families, and in turn, who shares her belief that children must be a priority issue in Washington for true change to happen across the country.

During nearly two years of presidential campaigning, the candidates have made claims and promises about how they would perform if they are elected to the White House. Some of the criteria we might use to judge a candidate’s fitness and temperament for leadership are difficult to quantify. But one concrete and objective way to assess how candidates measure up on crucial issues is by examining their voting records.
In this election year, when three of the four nominees for President and Vice President are sitting U.S. Senators—Barack Obama (D-IL), John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Biden (D-DE)—each has a record of roll call votes cast in Congress. Every year, through its Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard, the Children’s Defense Fund Action Council selects congressional roll call votes to illustrate how the Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voted on key issues affecting children and families.
I learned the passage, “By their works ye shall know them,” in Sunday School a long time ago. And a look at the voting records of the candidates, as reflected in the CDF Action Council® Scorecard, clearly reveals who among them is working for children and who isn’t.

Over the last three years, the Scorecard has shown that Sens. Obama and Biden voted with the CDF Action Council’s position on major legislation an overwhelming majority of the time—better than 85 percent. In contrast, Sen. McCain consistently scored under 30 percent.
Our next president must make children a priority. During the past eight years, the needs of children—particularly poor children and children of color—have been ignored. For example, more than half of all babies born uninsured are Latino, and more Latino children are uninsured than any other racial/ethnic group. One in 3 Latino babies is born into poverty and 1 in 4 Latino children is poor. Between 2000 and 2006, the number of poor Latino children increased by 550,000, totaling 4.1 million. America’s children deserve a President and a Congress who will invest in health coverage for every child, who will work to eradicate child poverty and who will fight to ensure a level playing field for every child in every corner of America. And it is up to all of us to demand that our leaders commit to children as a condition of our vote.
On November 4, we will not only consider the candidacy of three U.S. Senators who are running for President and Vice President at the top of the ballot, but 28 incumbent Senators and nearly 400 House Members who are running for re-election—all with congressional voting records contained in the CDF Action Council Scorecard.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Protestant theologian who was executed for opposing Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust, said that, “The test of the morality of a society is how it treats its children.” All of our children—especially poor, Black and Latino children—are too young to vote and don’t have the money to hire expensive lobbyists or spread around millions of dollars in campaign contributions. We need leaders who have the moral and common sense to make children a priority.
I hope the CDF Action Council Scorecard is helpful to voters as they decide whether candidates for office pass Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s test. Once armed with this information, they must get out and vote and count for children. There’s just too much at stake.

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4 Comments

  1. EYES OF TEXAS said:

    This is so right it should be a no brainer. It’s time for the government to step in and relieve parents of their responsibility for raising their own offspring. Besides, what parent wouldn’t jump at the chance to have a full time nanny for their kids? Let the government teach them, feed them, give them care and shelter them. That way the parents will have more time to produce more children they can’t afford to care for. What ever happened to family planning? If a couple can’t afford to feed themselves, how can they justify bringing children into the world that they can’t take care of? But, it’s good to know that the government is willing to step in and do what the parents should be doing.

  2. laura said:

    Marisa, you quote Marian Edelman as saying: “Over the last three years, the Scorecard has shown that Sens. Obama and Biden voted with the CDF Action Council’s position on major legislation an overwhelming majority of the time—better than 85 percent. In contrast, Sen. McCain consistently scored under 30 percent.”
    To me, the unbelievable vote came when McCain voted against the states-sponsored children’s health insurance program. This program extends health insurance to children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but who cannot afford private health insurance. If I remember correctly, the program received a majority of votes, but President Bush vetoed it twice.
    Yes – paying $ 1 billion every month to Halliburton and other Cheney/Bush friends in Iraq is fine. But we can’t spend money to make sure children here in this country get vaccinated and get their health problems taken care of early, before they become chronic and serious. Doing that would be socialism and spreading the wealth around. In fact it would be Marxist, if not downright terrorist.

  3. Marisa Treviño said:

    Laura, as always, thank you for your comment but I have to set the record straight. I didn’t quote Ms. Edelman. Like all Guest Voz writers, she penned the post herself. Thought you should know :)

  4. laura said:

    Thank you for the correction, Marisa. I am happy Ms. Edelman wrote for Latina Lista and shared her thoughts with us. She has so much wisdom to share from her decades devoted to the most important work a person can do – protecting and supporting the next generation, the weakest who can’t yet look out for themselves, and who one day will be determining our fate.
    Let’s listen to what she has to say not just in deciding who to vote for, but also in deciding what to work towards.

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