By BRONWEN RAFF
This Election Day, the stakes are high and we have clear choices to make. What we as a nation decide on Nov. 6 will have a lasting impact on our economy, our national security, our health care and our women. We need to elect leaders who will fight for what we believe in and represent our priorities in Washington.
As a college student about to graduate, I am concerned about how and where we spend money as a country. Critical state and local programs here in Idaho are at risk this election season because of overspending on the Pentagon budget and the threat of looming automatic budget cuts set to take effect in January. People in our country face significant struggles to recover from the Great Recession and many have already lost their jobs, or are facing the daily fear of layoffs, decreased hours and cut wages. By electing officials who actively support reshaping Pentagon spending, we can ensure that there are still Head Start programs, veterans services, community health care and loans for future generations of students.
While looking for ways to reshape the Pentagon budget, our elected officials should also review our nuclear weapons arsenal. The United States has maintained a large and expensive nuclear arsenal from the Cold War era. The nuclear weapons threats we face today have changed significantly, and we need an update to reflect those changes. Across the political spectrum, U.S. leaders have called for efforts to address today’s threats and to move forward with smart, realistic and verifiable steps toward a safer world without nuclear weapons. Now is the crucial moment for a new movement of engaged leaders to push forward toward a safer world. The need for the United States to ratify and implement the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is essential to preventing the spread of nuclear dangers and improving our national security.
American troops are still in Afghanistan after more than 10 years, and the women and children there are left to bear the brunt of rebuilding life and creating sustainable peace. As our troops begin to come home, we must do our part to help these women by electing leaders that support the mission of the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2012, “to empower half the world’s population as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence and insecurity.” Peace happens when people have access to education, jobs, health care, political participation and civil rights. We need to elect leaders who will promote peace and real security worldwide, and who support this crucial legislation.
Nov. 6 is a day when all Americans who truly care about the future of our country can stand up for their priorities by electing officials who want to progress the United States to greater days with a reshaped Pentagon budget, smaller nuclear arsenal and peace practices that include women’s voices. We need leaders who will find solutions to grow America today and for future generations. Remember to make your voice heard on Election Day.
Bronwen Raff is a Hailey resident and a student at Tufts University, class of 2013.