Why students must support Amy Klobuchar in 2006

It is essential that students know why they should turn out to support Amy Klobuchar for U.S. Senate.

by Abby Bar-Lev

When feminism and politics intersect, change happens. When progressivism meets innovation, inspiration emerges. When a progressive, Democratic woman runs for U.S. Senate, people everywhere stand to gain.

2006 is a pivotal year for politics in the United States. The battle for the open U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota being vacated by Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton is particularly important. Amy Klobuchar is a Democratic contender at that exact crossroads of feminism and politics, progressivism and innovation. The Republican challenger, Rep. Mark Kennedy, has a record as far from progressivism and studentsí interests as one can get.

Klobuchar respects students, supports education and is a firebrand ready to take on those in Congress who would rather give their money and support to corporations than education. Klobuchar is the Hennepin County attorney, working in the same county as the Universityís Twin Cities campus. Klobuchar has been endorsed by EMILYís List (disclaimer: I am an intern for EMILYís List), an organization that is ìdedicated to building a progressive America by electing pro-choice Democratic women to office.” Klobuchar recognizes the importance of the University and recognizes, too, the increased financial burdens students are facing to seek a college degree.

Where Kennedy shows no sympathy for higher education or students, Klobuchar will work to make college affordable again. In her words, ìIt makes no sense for Washington to cut access to grants and loans for students when higher education costs are skyrocketing ó such as tuition at the University of Minnesota going up 81 percent in just seven years.”

Klobuchar, unlike Kennedy, is dedicated to and has faith in the University. She spoke at the University on her National Energy Policy in November, in what her campaign staff told the Daily was ìthe announcement of her first big policy initiative.” Her staff went on to say she chose to speak at the University ìbecause of its research capabilities” and national influence. Having heard her speak on a separate occasion, I can testify that Klobuchar is a passionate, progressive, determined woman who is going to do amazing things for the state of Minnesota and the Universityís students. Her desire to better the lives of Minnesotans is nearly tangible and fits perfectly with Minnesotaís proud progressive history.

Rep. Mark Kennedy, on the other hand, has a regressive record at best on higher educational issues. As Noah Seligman of the U-DFL pointed out in his January guest column in the Daily, Kennedy supported cutting nearly $13 billion from financial aid loan programs. He recently voted in support of the presidentís budget bill that included ìthe biggest cuts in the history of the federal student loan program,” according to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Kennedy is more than eager to support the president, having voted with the Bush administration 98 percent of the time in 2003.

At least Kennedy never has pretended to support the University; in fact, he barely mentions higher education on either his federal or campaign Web sites. He does, however, boast his support for the Solomon Amendment, which mandates that military recruiters be allowed on University campuses. He said, ìColleges and universities that accept our tax dollars must not be allowed to discriminate against the military or ROTC.” It is good to know that the man responsible for helping to take billions of dollars from studentsí pockets for tuition costs is the same man giving ultimatums to colleges and universities. Perhaps cutting loans and supporting the Solomon Amendment is strategic; with all the money disappearing from financial aid, the number of students joining the military undoubtedly will rise.

After finding no mention of any of Minnesotaís universities under his ìeducation” tab on his Web site, I explored the ìfamily values” tab, thinking of education as a family value. Nowhere there does he mention higher education, focusing instead on abortion and the sanctity of marriage. That is no surprise, however. After all, the Christian Coalition of America gave him a 100 percent record in 2003 and 2004 for voting in its best interests.

It may not be a presidential election year, but it is crucial that we have a large student turnout for Klobuchar for U.S. Senate. Our right to access an affordable education hangs in the balance. The ever-rising tuition costs we pay and will continue to pay are shameful. We deserve an advocate in the U.S. Congress. With Klobuchar in the U.S. Senate, students would have a voice in government and our best interests would be in her agenda.

Abby Bar-Lev welcomes comments at [email protected].