I hereby announce my intent to form a committee to investigate the feasibility of my candidacy for the office of President of the United States of America in 2012.
Between now and the next election I will officially become eligible to run for President:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
(U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 1)
I have come to discover that the extreme positions that our two national parties have taken have led to my disillusionment with the political process. I balance out to be a centrist as I am a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.
Some people believe that last statement is a fallacy. Some people erroneously believe that social liberal means spending money on a lot of touchy-feely programs. That is not the case. Below I have outlined the major issues from the 2008 campaign. I will state my positions on each and hopefully illustrate what is meant by social liberal-fiscal conservative.
In a perfect world there would be no abortions; but we do not live in a perfect world. We live in a world of rape, incest, and where mothers die giving birth. I believe in a womanâ€™s right to control her body. I believe that an abortion should be legal at any point in a pregnancy if the motherâ€™s life is in danger, and I believe medical science should determine what that means. I believe that a fetus is a life once it can reasonably survive outside of the mother, and again I would rely on scientific evidence to determine what that means. Abortion is a terrible choice that I hope no woman would have to make, but it has a place in our world. We must ensure that it is done properly and with compassion.
Afghanistan is modern dayâ€™s forgotten war. Too much time, money, and attention has been spent on Iraq. The United States has forgotten where this â€œWar on Terrorâ€ started. The US must move its focus to Afghanistan, stabilize the country, and work with neighboring Pakistan to ensure there is no place to hide for the Taliban. Should be a piece of cake. I would expect this to wrap up by the end of my second term in 2020.
As much as I disagree with the neo-conservative doctrine that the United States must bring democracy to the world (some societies arenâ€™t ready for it, see: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan), I do believe the time is right to work with Cuba to loosen restrictions and entice the country to moderate. Do not expect free elections overnight; but I would work with Raul Castro to bring Cuba into the modern age. Expect Cuba to be the United Statesâ€™ 53rd state in 2035.
By the time I start my campaign in 2011 we should be out of the current mess and on our way to a new bull market. As part of the political process I will need to argue that all of the missteps in the recovery that rightfully belong to the Bush administration actually belong to Obama. Hey, people will do anything to get elected, right? Regardless, my economic policies can be summed up by this Winston Churchill quote: â€œThe inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.â€
I firmly believe the pure capitalism does not work for todayâ€™s society. If left to its own devices (as evidenced by the recent financial collapse of large banks) capitalism will drive to wild highs and bottom-scraping lows. On the other side I am not advocating socialism. But if you donâ€™t think the US has a fair amount of socialism already built into it I will direct you to: a) Social Security, b) the insurance industry as a whole (socialized risk), and c) the TARP bailout. So the right-wing cries of â€œsocialismâ€ towards Obama are ridiculous.
Regardless, the US (and the world) isnâ€™t equipped to handle that sort of roller coaster ride that unfettered capitalism provides. I am not a fan of massive government regulations either; but stricter controls over the economy, by the government, are necessary. Think of the government as the throttle on the economic engine. We just blew a cylinder, so we need to fix the engine and take it easy on the gas pedal next time. Weâ€™ll be fine.
In the immortal words and music of Michael Masser and Linda Creed (as sung by Whitney Houston): â€œI believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.â€
I am against school vouchers. I strongly believe our public school system is what led America to its position as the worldâ€™s only superpower. However, that system has not adapted over the last several decades to stay ahead of the world. We need to swallow our pride and learn techniques that have worked in other countries. The public school system at the beginning of my term will bear little resemblance to the school systems at the end of my second term. My top three initiatives would be:
A) Uniforms â€“ all public schools will require uniforms.
B) Pay for Performance â€“ teachers will be evaluated not on their studentsâ€™ performance, but how the teacher performs in the classroom as judged by peer review.
C) Bring Post-Secondary options into High School: why not let studentsâ€™ natural abilities drive their educational experience? I strongly believe in a well-rounded education, but most seniors in high school do not need to learn calculus. Diversify the classroom options for the last two years of high school and prepare student for the working world or post-secondary education.
My energy policies will closely resemble what is referred to on the internet as â€œThe Robin Williamsâ€™ Planâ€.
â€œThe US will make a strong effort to become self sufficient energy wise. This will include developing non-polluting sources of energy but will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while.â€
Getting the US weaned off of oil isnâ€™t going to happen overnight, but great strides could be taken immediately. I will make it a point to cease and desist all ethanol plants that use corn as a source. Not only does corn make for a very poor source of plant based fuel (as compared to switch grass or even pond scum) it is a horrible plant that strips the soil of nutrients and is as the source of the â€œfood industrial complexâ€. For those of you reading this who didnâ€™t grow up in an agricultural town, you know all that corn you see growing when you drive through the Heartland? That isnâ€™t for people. You could take that corn and boil it all day and you couldnâ€™t eat it. Thatâ€™s all for cattle, food additives (High Fructose Corn Syrup is the most notorious), and ethanol. Did you know that it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel to create one calorie of corn as food?
But I digress, the topic at hand is energy. We use petroleum for so many other important products (plastics to just name one). We need oil, but we donâ€™t need to use it all for our fuel. The fuel plan of the future will need to be diverse as we wonâ€™t be able to get all of our transportation fuel from oil, nor all of our electricity from coal/nuclear. Wind, solar, hydroelectric, natural gas, as well as coal and nuclear are all part of the equation. I will accelerate the Obama administrationâ€™s support of new technologies to help the US gain energy independence. I will make this research a cornerstone of the US economy creating jobs and an industry focused on helping the US and the world.
I do not support the Kyoto Protocol. It seems to me that it is only creating a market where the have-not nations can sell their â€œcarbon creditsâ€ to the have nations who will continue to expel high-levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Whether or not you believe that the climate changes we are seeing today are part of a natural cycle or influenced by man, we all should agree that we should limit polluting the air and water of the world. My energy policies will go a long way toward curbing the US output of polluting gases. It is an unreasonable expectation of emerging economies to adopt and buy carbon credits to create their own energy infrastructure when the western world became the energy consuming behemoth it is today on the back of free wheeling use of energy. Unless the first world countries are willing to share their energy technologies with third world countries we cannot limit their energy evolution. We, as a world, need to limit our environmental impact by sharing resources and knowledge. This wonâ€™t happen overnight, but it can happen.
In theory Free Trade sounds like a good thing. In actuality Free Trade is an immensely complicated issue. Presidential campaigns are run on sound bites. McCain said things like, â€œ[I am] the biggest free marketer and free trader that you will ever see.â€ Biden said, â€œscrap NAFTA or fix it.â€ Most voting Americans have no understanding of the complexities of the economics involved, they only care about generalities and tough talk; like Obama wanting to eliminate tax breaks for companies who move their headquarters overseas. So for my campaign I will be equally glib and only pay lip service to arguably the most important and influential issue on the table.
Government contracts will only be awarded to companies headquartered in the United States.
NAFTA will be â€œfixedâ€ (whatever thatâ€™s supposed to mean).
The US will use â€œtalk toughâ€ with other countries that have placed high tariffs on our goods.
In reality any meaningful change in policy on free trade will come when our society no longer values saving a few dollars over quality. We are addicted to cheap clothes and cheap electronics. We place a high tariff on imported sugar to ensure that using our surplus of domestic corn, after going through a somewhat complicated and expensive manufacturing process, is a cheaper sweetener.
Regardless, the US cannot embrace protectionist policies, but it cannot continue the unabated consumption of the past 40 years.
My position on the â€œright to bear armsâ€ is probably what will keep me from getting elected. I am strongly in favor of gun control. I would propose strict regulation and tracking of firearms. This may seem impossible but consider we have just as many guns as we do vehicles registered in the US (approx 225-250 million). We regulate every single car built and sold in this US. Each one gets a unique number assigned to it. Each one needs to be licensed. If you are found operating it without a license you can be fined or jailed. You are required to carry insurance if you own and operate one. But when it comes to guns, itâ€™s laissez-faire. My administration would look to track every single firearm manufactured or imported into this country. Owners would need to be licensed, and purchase insurance on their firearm in the case it is used in illegal activity. Future purchases of assault weapons would be banned. I donâ€™t care what any member of the NRA may tell you; there is no provision in the Bill of Rights that provides for the ownership of an AK-47. There is no reason to own an AK-47 except for the purpose of killing people. There is no other reasonable use for weapons of this nature. You cannot hunt game with this gun. Ok, well you can, but youâ€™ll lose half the deer to the exit wounds an assault rifle would leave. Lastly, I am not in favor of â€œconceal and carryâ€ laws, I would actively pursue overturning those laws.
Newsflash: the American healthcare system is broken. Since I currently work in the Health Insurance industry I have my own biases on what is wrong and what should be done to fix the industry. I do not believe a single payer (i.e. government health insurance) is the answer. I favor universal coverage for children whose families qualify, but I do not favor universal coverage for adults. I believe that pharmaceutical companies and medical care providers need to be transparent on their costs and fundamentally change they way they are paid for their services. Health Insurance companies should be not-for-profit enterprises; any profits above and beyond a reasonable threshold should be returned to the policyholders who pay the premiums. Ideally hospitals would be not-for-profit as well.
What candidate would say: I am against Homeland Security? What my administration would do is increase the cooperation and better define the roles and responsibilities of the various departments responsible for the security of the United States. The creation of a whole separate department (with the Orwellian title of: Department of Homeland Security) was possibly needed at the time, but seemed to be treating the symptoms instead of curing the problem. Consolidating duties and departments without sacrificing safety would be a high priority in my administration.
Additionally, on the chance that the prison at Guantanamo Bay is still open and contains detainees, I would move to put all detainees on trial to determine their fate. I would also look to revise the Patriot Act to ensure a proper balance between freedom and safety.
What the US is experiencing in the housing market is known as a â€œcorrectionâ€. That is an emotionless word to describe the pain that is felt across the nation as families are losing their homes to foreclosure; but it is an accurate word. By the time my candidacy gets off the ground this chapter will be in the past, but let us make sure it is not forgotten. If your family makes $60,000 a year, you probably canâ€™t afford a $500,000 homeâ€¦ with no money downâ€¦ and loan payments that only cover the interest each month. Sometimes the collective â€œweâ€ learn the lesson the hard way. And learning the hard way is never fun.
Itâ€™s fascinating that so many of these issues have economics at their core. The electorate wants it both ways, they want cheap labor to hold down the prices of food, but they donâ€™t want immigrants illegally entering the county. This country was built on the backs of immigrants, and continues to run on the backs of immigrants. From the fields of California to the dairy barns in Vermont; illegal immigrants keep wages low, which in turn keep prices low. But the electorate doesnâ€™t want to hear that. They want to hear tough talk like, â€œletâ€™s build a fence between us and Mexico to keep those damn immigrants out!â€ Building a 700-mile long fence will do little to nothing to stem the flow of illegal immigration (or drugs) along the Mexican border. Itâ€™s a waste of time and money. Reforming the economics that drive people to risk their lives coming to this country is the only path to meaningful change.
Attempts to marginalize Iran and label them part of an â€œAxis of Evilâ€ couldnâ€™t be further from the appropriate way to change the Iranian regime. I would continue the approach to engage Iran and do our clandestine best to support moderate factions within the country to move their society and their government away from extremists. I would continue sanctions in an effort to have Iran dismantle their nuclear ambitions, but a military action without U.N. backing would be a mistake far bigger than Iraq.
I was against the invasion of Iraq without support from the U.N. I do feel that the U.N. can be an impotent organization, but while the U.S. *can* go it alone, the Iraq war has illustrated why we *shouldnâ€™t* go it alone. However, now that we have been in Iraq for over 6 years (!!!), it is time that we withdraw our troops and focus on stabilizing Afghanistan where this â€œWar on Terrorâ€ started and where we have yet to win any meaningful victories.
Israel is a key US ally in the Middle East and my administration would continue to support that ally. However Israel hasnâ€™t done much to help themselves in the ongoing conflicts in the region. I would push for a three-state solution to the Palestinian issue; giving Egypt authority over the Gaza Strip, and giving Jordan the West Bank. This solution would make Egypt, Jordan, and Israel unhappy; which tells me that it must be the right solution.
This issue is really all about gay marriage. There are other important issues (actually they are probably more important than gay marriage) such as gays in the military and gay adoption. For the record I am opposed to gays being banned from the military, and I am in favor of gay adoptions; there are so many children in need of loving families and there is no evidence that a child raised by a gay person or a gay couple is at more risk for *anything* than those raised by straight people.
As far as the main issue of gay marriage, I have a pretty radical stance. I believe the government should get out of the marriage business. Government agencies should only issue Civil Unions. Allowing two people to join themselves for economic benefits (inheritance, taxes, etc.) and social responsibilities (responsibility for children, power of attorney, etc.) is a function of government. Marriage is a sacrament of the church. Last I checked we had a separation of church and state in this country.
And as an aside, what is the problem with gay people getting married? Do people see it as diminishing their own marriages? I just donâ€™t understand it. I could understand if people were against it from a fiscal perspective; paying out additional health benefits for partners, or using marriage as a tax advantage (which it really isnâ€™t)â€¦ but you never really hear *why* people are against it besides religious reasons. It doesnâ€™t make sense to me.
Something else that doesnâ€™t make sense is amending the Constitution to prevent gay people from getting married. The Constitution is meant to grant rights, not take them away. The last time we tried to take something away it really didnâ€™t go very well (Prohibition). If someone can give me a good logical reason why gays shouldnâ€™t marry, Iâ€™ll listen to them, but I have yet to hear anything.
â€œThe more things change, the more they stay the same.â€ â€“ Alphonse Karr
Just when you thought Russia was evolving and the Cold War was over, they start invading neighboring countries and stirring up trouble. Russia is not the powerhouse it was during the Soviet days, but they are a key world power and must be treated as such. However we must not turn a blind eye to the corruption and human right violations rampant in their country; but this is not a country the US can intimidate.
Boy, darn good thing we didnâ€™t take Bush 43â€™s advice and put Social Security in the stock market. Whew! We dodged a bullet there!
To get elected as president you need the senior vote, and considering that by the time Iâ€™m running in 2012 the senior population should be over 40 million, I need to pander to the old folks. To get those votes I will talk tough about Social Security. I will not privatize it. I will also stop Congress from raiding it like it was a cookie jar. Once elected, I will hold to those promises, but I will also move to phase it out over time. Citizens of this country should not rely on the government to support them in their old age. Each and every person should focus on saving their own money for a time when they are no longer working (whether that is through retirement or a disability). Not a popular position, but in all honestly Social Security isnâ€™t much support for seniors anyway. The payments get lower and lower each year and with the Baby Boomers moving towards retirement age there is little chance of Social Security surviving until I am ready to retire. Time to start the long process of weaning us off of Social Security.
Stem cell research
My administration would not add any restrictions on stem cell research. I would support federal funding for research companies using embryos that are slated for destruction by fertility clinics, as well as other existing sources. I would not support what is commonly referred to as â€œfetal farmingâ€; the creation of embryos specifically for research.
Taxes are a necessary evil that provide funding for services that benefit the common good. I am absolutely for lower taxes, but I am for more in favor of a balanced budget. This will require raising taxes on the top 1% of income earners in the country, and I envision a graduated scale. For every million dollars you make, your tax rate goes up 1% topping out at 45%. This country is providing the means for you to make obscene amounts of money, the least you could do is help her get out of debt. Taxes rate will remain where they are for the remainder of the population but government services and subsidies will be targeted for elimination where possible. Once the budget is under control and we can begin to pay down our debt, tax rates will be adjusted accordingly. Deficit spending will abhorred in my administration. Only under the most dire circumstances will it be allowed. Government by the people is a reflection of those people. The American public has gotten fat off of cheap credit and racked up immense debt. The national debt comes out to $37,000 for every man, woman, and child in this country. Tack on another $10,000 for the average personal credit card debt and you quickly see how dire the situation truly is.
Keep in mind this wonâ€™t happen overnight. The last time our national debt was this high (as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product â€“ 65%) was 1955. We had just finished the Korean War and were still paying down the debt racked up during World War II. It took 25 years, but debt was relatively stable and tracking downward as a percentage of GDP (32.5% in 1980) right up until 1981; which was when Reagan took office and deficit spending went unabated until the latter Clinton years. We must do our best to shrink government and pay down the debt (both national and personal) we have; and I believe my policies will allow us to get there.
Soâ€¦ would you vote for a social liberalâ€“fiscal conservative? I believe Iâ€™ve shown that itâ€™s possible to be both. Maybe someday there will be a candidate on the national scene that fits both. And if there ever is, Iâ€™ll vote for her!