Now that Jesse Helms is leaving the U.S. Senate, the door is open for a new candidate to step in and represent the state. Tomorrow, North Carolina voters have a choice between Elizabeth Dole and Erskine Bowles, and the choice is clear: Elizabeth Dole is the right person to represent North Carolina in the Senate.
Dole has extensive experience in Washington, as a former labor secretary and transportation secretary, and also served as president of the American Red Cross, one of the nation's greatest philanthropic organizations. Moreover, Dole has strong ties to North Carolina. Her mother continues to live in Salisbury, and Dole graduated from Duke's Woman's College in 1958. She has gone on to serve the University admirably as a Trustee.
But more important than her experience are her ideas, especially when compared to those of Bowles, who never outlined a clear vision during the campaign.
For example, take the issue of Social Security, where Dole has proposed a plan and Bowles has not. Dole's plan to privatize part of Social Security, although not perfect, does aim to address problems the Social Security system will face 40 years down the road. Without significant changes to the system, it will become insolvent, forcing either severe reductions in benefits or harsh tax increases. While Bowles wants to maintain the unworkable status quo on Social Security, Dole is progressive and forward-looking and wants to allow young workers the entirely voluntary option to privatize and invest part of their accounts.
Moreover, Dole's views against taxes are far superior to Bowles' tax-and-spend philosophy. By pledging not to raise taxes, Dole is ensuring that North Carolinians are getting a fair shake and that the money they earn, they can keep, without having it go to wasteful government spending. Bowles, however, by his insistence on bulky social welfare programs and a balanced budget, almost ensures that he will want to raise taxes, thereby crippling North Carolina's economy.
Dole is also much more progressive and forward-looking than Bowles on the prospect of North Carolina jobs. Currently, many North Carolina workers are stuck in textiles, a dying industry. Whereas Bowles again wants to maintain the status quo and keep North Carolina workers in the textile industry, Dole wants to give these workers a way out. By supporting free trade and fast-track authority, Dole recognizes that the future of North Carolina is not in producing textiles, but rather in producing technology and offering services. Dole is planning for the state's future and wants to give workers the opportunity to go to school, earn a new degree and get higher-paying, more satisfying jobs in technology and other emerging sectors. Whereas Bowles seems to not have a plan for the future of this state, Dole aims to create new jobs and opportunities through the benefits provided by free trade.
While Bowles is a strong candidate with experience as former president Bill Clinton's chief of staff, he simply does not match up to Dole, in terms of the quality of his experience or the strength of his ideas. Bowles is noted as a consensus builder and has a true concern for rural North Carolina, but this campaign and this election are really about vision. Dole has a vision for the future of North Carolina, whereas Bowles wants to keep things the way they are.
The Chronicle formally endorses Elizabeth Dole for U.S. Senate.
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