Ex-Speaker answers Democrats’ questions


    Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Jim Wright told students the fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans is how they make opportunities, especially economic opportunities, available to Americans.

    Wright spoke Monday night at a Young Democrats meeting. He answered questions from students about the upcoming presidential election and issues that will determine the outcome.

    Democrats believe in giving everyone a chance to live an aristocratic life, Wright said. Fifty-one people attended the meeting and ate pizza while listening to Wright.
    Upward mobility and opportunities for everyone is what America has stood for from the beginning, Wright said, and the founding fathers “set out to universalize the aristocracy.”

    The availability of opportunity was one of Wright’s main topics of the night. He said there are three main areas where the American people need open opportunities: health care for the elderly, education for school-aged children, and jobs for those who need employment.

    As far as the 2004 election is concerned, Wright said, “I think we have a good strong fighting chance.”

    He said he believed Massachusetts senator John Kerry could carry the Democratic Party to the White House and that North Carolina senator John Edwards would be a good pick for vice president.

    “I like John Edwards. I think he’s one of the most attractive young personalities on the scene,” Wright said.

    When students asked about hot political issues, Wright was specific in his criticisms of the current administration. Wright said that the issue of gay marriage is being used as a “weapon of mass distraction” by the Bush administration. By getting people to focus on the possibility of a constitutional amendment, the Republicans can keep the public’s attention from the economy or the war in Iraq.

    “We have gone out on our own too much — it’s a macho thing,” he said of America’s unilateral decision about the war in Iraq.

    Nancy Stevens, who is running for state representative in District 97, said Wright covered all the main issues that will affect the election. She agreed that the economy will probably be the main focus and that more opportunities will help the present state of affairs.

    Andrew Hepworth, a sophomore political science major, said the economy is an important thing to consider. He said Bush’s present plan is not working, and Wright’s focus on the economy was appropriate.

    “He’s a straight shooter and doesn’t dance around the issue,” Hepworth said. “He’ll tell you what the issue is and how it needs to be dealt with.”