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Contrast: Democrats, Republicans

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- America's two major political conventions showed the nation a clear contrast in party values. Democrats in Charlotte focused almost entirely on needs of average American families, working folks, the middle class. For example:

• Health care -- Democrats stressed that medical treatment is a human right that should be available to everyone. In contrast, Republicans in Tampa vowed to revoke coverage for millions of people, coverage secured by President Obama's historic 2010 advance.

• Free birth control -- Democrats spotlighted the fact that the 2010 reform requires insurers to offer free contraception to all insured women, a strategy to reduce America's painful rate of single motherhood. Republicans would scrap this benefit along with the rest of the 2010 law.

• Medicare -- Republicans would turn it into a voucher system using private insurers, leading to cuts in services and more out-of-pocket expense to seniors, while Democrats would extend it as a successful government program.

• Education -- Democrats want to make student loans and college more affordable to help more young people enter good careers -- for example, filling 3 million technical jobs currently vacant because qualified applicants can't be found. Republicans have resisted this.

• Taxes -- President Obama wants to continue tax reductions for all families earning below $250,000 a year. Republicans want to add extra giveaways to the top 1 percent of billionaires and multimillionaires.

• Choice -- The Democratic platform is committed to letting women and girls choose whether to halt pregnancies. The GOP platform would recriminalize all terminations and force some women to bear the babies of rapists.

The Democratic platform specifies the contrast between the parties, that voters are offered "two fundamentally different paths for our country." Former President Bill Clinton summed up at the convention Wednesday night:

"If you want a you're-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility -- a we're-all-in-this-together society -- you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden."

Polls indicate that a majority of West Virginians will choose the GOP plan favoring the rich, fundamentalists, military "hawks" and other special interests. But the Democratic version clearly holds more promise to help West Virginia reach a healthier and more prosperous future. We hope America supports the Democratic vision on Nov. 6.


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