Who do you want representing you?

| Staff Columnist

We have a choice. Every two years, America votes for the people it will send to the House of Representatives. Each district looks at the candidates running and determines who represents its viewpoints and interests. Most Wash. U. students live in Missouri’s Third District and get to pick between Democrat Russ Carnahan, the incumbent Congressman, and Republican Ed Martin, a former gubernatorial chief of staff. It’s clear from an analysis of where they stand on issues of importance to Wash. U. students, which candidate would represent us better.

One major issue in the election is jobs. Representative Carnahan voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says created and saved between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs through tax cuts and investment in projects, ranging from infrastructure to renewable energy. These projects create green jobs. Ed Martin, a Tea Party activist, argues for cutting taxes and reducing regulation on business, hoping that voters forget why regulations were made in the first place, even after financial crises caused by Republican deregulation cost America millions of jobs. He strongly opposed the Recovery Act and its $288 billion of tax cuts.

The differences between Congressman Carnahan and Ed Martin continue with environmental and energy policy. Representative Carnahan has pushed to create renewable energy and combat climate change, taking tax breaks from oil companies and giving them to alternative energy sources in order to create green jobs for Missouri and the rest of America. He voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which aims to limit emissions that cause climate change.

Martin denies the science behind climate change and refuses to do anything to move America toward renewable energy besides repealing energy subsidies, which fund a great deal of investment in clean technologies like solar and wind energy and opposes regulations on oil companies, even after the oil spill this summer cost America tens of thousands of jobs.

As different from Wash. U. as Martin is on energy, he gets farther away when it comes to social issues. Representative Carnahan supports life-saving stem cell research, while Martin does not. Martin recently said President Obama was “taking away Americans’ right to ‘find the Lord,’” while Representative Carnahan does not say insane comments to divide Americans in hopes of winning votes.

Their differences really shine through on “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The two candidates were asked if they support the policy in a recent debate. Congressman Carnahan has stated his opposition to “don’t ask, don’t tell” because that is what military leaders want, and we need talented people defending our country regardless of sexual orientation. Martin followed up the Congressman’s answer about defending our country by calling the effort to rid our country of “don’t ask, don’t tell” “social engineering by Nancy Pelosi and the far left,” a statement just as crazy as “don’t ask, don’t tell” is discriminatory.

When Wash. U. looks at candidates, the character of the people should matter just as much as their policy positions. Each candidate criticizes the other’s character in his political past. Martin has criticized Representative Carnahan, but his criticisms show more about himself than his opponent. Martin criticized Congressman Carnahan’s use of franking, a privilege Congress has that allows members to send mail to their constituents. Franking allows members of Congress to keep their constituency informed on what Congress has done and greatly contributes to increased transparency.

While Martin criticizes Carnahan for expensive transparency, Representative Carnahan has criticized Martin for expensive lack of transparency. His tenure as former Governor Blunt’s chief of staff was full of controversy, but he was finally fired for covering up some of the illegal political use of his office. Martin deleted e-mails and then fired the lawyer investigating his wrongdoings. Martin’s transgressions are so great that Representative Carnahan is not the only one criticizing Martin for his character flaws: The non-partisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Martin one of their top 10 most corrupt candidates of 2010.

We have a choice. We can vote for a rational, thoughtful congressman who works to make our lives better by creating jobs, protecting the environment and representing our social views, or a corrupt, disgraced former chief of staff who would enjoy dividing Americans for his own benefit and preventing progress on energy. The choice is ours.

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