Martin O’Malley rocks the Stern Center with music and politics

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Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley visited CofC on Oct. 22. (Photo by Michael Wiser)

On Oct. 22, Democratic Presidential hopeful and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley came to the College to share his stance on the issues most important to college students. As the parent of a College of Charleston alum, this was not his first time on campus, which he loves for its smooth integration into the city.

Throughout the session, O’Malley addressed his work as governor and issues concerning education, gun control and climate change. He believes that these three areas are critical in our country and that “New Leadership” will help move us forward.

College students might be happy to hear that O’Malley wants to move toward “debt free college” by increasing the number of National Pell grants given to undergraduates and increasing the Block Grant Program so it can fund regional governments to pay for schooling. He described colleges as a “toll road,” where one third of the price is for tuition, while the other two thirds go toward room and board – a pricing system that O’Malley wants to improve.

O’Malley has more than just good ideas about education, though. As governor, he brought Maryland’s education to number one in the country for five years in a row. He wants to continue improving primary and secondary education by supporting universal pre-kindergarten and maintaining the arts. From his own experience, he knows that having better education earlier in a student’s life leads to better work in the future.

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O’Malley is not only a politician, but also a musician. He plays in the Celtic Rock Band “O’Malley’s March.” (Photo by Michael Wiser)

On minimum wage, O’Malley responded to a student who said, “If you increase the minimum wage then prices will go up.” He stated that for decades minimum wage had been increasing with inflation, but then it just stopped, although he agreed that dramatic increase would have that effect.

Another student brought up the issue of climate change, asking if it was a moral or business challenge. O’Malley responded by saying both, citing that  here are “more jobs in solar and wind in our country than there is in coal” and asserting that we need to press forward with our move toward clean, renewable energy. He hopes that the United States will run on 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050.

On gun control, he said that Maryland has had stricter gun control policies since he took office. As President, he would make universal background checks mandatory ban combat assault weapons, ban gun magazines over ten rounds, make gun trafficking a federal crime, and not allow the gun industry to have immunity to liability.  With this plan, he hopes to halve the number of people killed by guns over the next ten years.

Apart from his stance on the issues, O’Malley believes that he is a good candidate for the presidency because of his ability to work with the other side of government. He said that in our country of the American eagle, “both the left and right wings” have to be working to fly smoothly. He believes he has what it takes to work with the right wing and to achieve his goals. He stated, “That’s what I did as governor, that’s what I’ll do as the president.”

And in case you care about candidates’ musical talents, you should know that O’Malley ended his session not with inspirational political rhetoric, but with a guitar solo. Because shouldn’t a president be able to strum along to the National Anthem?

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