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Democratic Hopeful Addresses Students

Bradley Discusses Education, Activism

By Kristen Landino

Democratic Presidential Candidate and former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley spoke about some of the primary issues related to his campaign including racial unity, poverty, and health care before a packed Wong auditorium Tuesday.

“The issue of racial unity is one closest to my heart. It is time to get back to a time when, in Toni Morrison’s words, ‘race is there, but it doesn’t matter,’” said Bradley.

Bradley explains unique campaign

“I’m doing this campaign differently. I’m trying to respect people,” said Bradley.

Bradley has a different past than most presidential candidates. A former guard for the New York Knicks, he spent a great deal of his time traveling across the country with the team. According to Bradley, this experience has helped him to better understand the American people and what they want.

“Throughout my life there has been one continuum -- me going up to strangers and asking them about their story. I feel through the accumulation of these stories I have gotten a sense of who the American people are,” said Bradley.

Bradley also voiced the need to increase political awareness throughout the country, citing mistrust of government as a major factor leading to the increased apathy of the American people to politics.

“Take college campuses: volunteerism has never been higher, but political activism has never been lower. We need to put the service back into politics. People need to recognize it as a way to help their country and fellow men,” said Bradley.

Distribution of wealth a top issue

Bradley described the preservation of the current economic prosperity as his most pressing campaign issue.

“We need to manage economic fundamentals in order to continue the current economic prosperity and have it more broadly distributed,” said Bradley.

Bradley also discussed his views on campaign finance reform. He would like to eliminate soft money contributions which allow corporations to influence policy through financial means. Bradley also said that general elections for the House and Senate should be partially publically financed.

In a side note, Bradley mentioned that for his own campaign, he found the internet to be a useful tool for campaign fundraising. He claimed to have raised the most money of any presidential candidate in history through his website.

Education an important focus

Educational issues raised by the audience included school vouchers as well as the importance of teacher quality in public schools.

“Vouchers aren’t the answer to problems in our public schools. Why? There are simply too many children in the current private school system to handle an influx of new students from public schools. Most private schools are currently operating at 90 percent of capacity,” Bradley said.

Bradley did, however, acknowledge there was a problem with education in America. He used his experience as a Senator in New Jersey as a frame of reference for his knowledge of the desperate situation in public schools. He stressed the importance of the quality of education and criticized the lack of good teachers in America.

“If you really want to make an impact, then you should consider teaching. There is no more important job for someone graduating from college than being a teacher,” Bradley said.

Audience raises concerns

One audience members raised the issue of ethanol subsidies and their effect on the environment. Ethanol, otherwise known as grain alcohol, is used as an additive in such necessities as gasoline.

On this particular issue, Bradley has switched his stance in the past. He now does not support subsidies for ethanol use to corporate entities. In particular, Bradley cited the “dying family farms” and their takeover by large corporate farms.

Bradley described the factors which motivated his change in thinking, and mentioned that his time spent in Iowa before the caucus helped to change his mind.

Bradley also touched upon immigration issues and noted the need to regulate the system. He cited the “sweatshop conditions” that illegal immigrants often work under in the United States.

“Immigration is what this country is all about, but it must be regulated. You must enforce the laws on the books to preserve the rights of these people,” Bradley said.