I wrote what follows seven months ago. I am reposting it now because I think the concerns I expressed then are particularly relevant as we go forward with fiscal cliff, debt ceiling, and other issues on which we are not sure what the administration might do. There do have to be limits to our support beyond the idea that the other guys are worse.
I have been active in politics since i was an adolescent, a period now of more than 5 decades.
I have often been willing to support politicians with whom I had some strong disagreements on the issues, perhaps because I believed they were as good as we were likely to get.
As I get older, the world seems to go by far more quickly. And while I do not have biological children, I think of the future in terms of the several thousands who passed through my care before i retired from teaching at the end of this school year.
Because I think of them, because I am concerned about the world and nation we will be leaving them, I have come to find myself at the point where I am far less inclined to support in any fashion those unwilling to think honestly about the rights and needs of all of our people.
So below the fold, I will offer what is for now a tentative list of items that are not negotiable for me.
At a minimum it means I will not offer financial support. It may well mean that I cannot bring myself to write/advocate on behalf of someone's candidacy, and/or cast a vote for that person.
This is still a work in progress, which I admit.
But there are times where we must make clear our values, and be prepared to take a stand on their behalf.
Full rights for all on an inclusive basis it the underlying principle for all of the following items that should not be negotiable
- no one should ever be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age unless the government can show a truly compelling state interest
- full marriage equality, recognized not merely state by state, but at a national level, recognizing that marriage should be considered a fundamental right of all persons
- a return to the original constitutional understanding that a "person" was a living, breathing human being, and nothing else
- that when Constitutional Amendments say "person" that prohibits the government from making distinctions among humans on the basis of alleged terrorist activities or immigration status
- that because the air we breath and the water we drink are a common inheritance to which not only we but the rest of the natural world are entitled, companies and individuals shall be held to account for the damage done to these, by taxes, fines, criminal punishments
- that since all benefit from public facilities such as schools, roads, the military, all shall pay according to the benefit they have received, which shall be best judged by the income and wealth they have accumulated
- that we shall cease and desist from privatizing the commons, be it schools, the social safety net, or anything else, and shall attempt to reverse such privatization as has occurred - this includes prisons, public schools, public libraries,
- that all are entitled to a life not threatened by lack of access to affordable health care, including reproductive services, mental health, and dental and vision care. We in the United States are far from a leader in caring for our people, and this needs to be changed immediately
- that the amount of money one has should not give one a bigger voice in governing the nation, which means we must find a way of restricting the damage money currently does to our political processes
- that Dwight Eisenhower was right when he warned us about the military-industrial-congressional complex (that was his original formulation), and that we need to stop the wasteful spending on wars of choice, on interventions that have little to do with either stopping imminent or ongoing slaughters
- that we recognize that unrestricted accumulation of wealth into private hands is contrary to the ideals of a democratic republic as laid out by our founding documents - it is time to have both a healthy graduated income tax and a healthy inheritance tax, one that does not allow loopholes such as generation-skipping trusts
- that someone believes in their religion does not give them the right to impose their religious values upon the rest of us - if you cannot make an argument other than on the basis of your religious beliefs, you do not have a valid argument
- all workers should have the right to freely organize together and collectively bargain - it may be the only way to provide a counterbalance to the accumulation of wealth and power
- that when productivity goes up, workers are entitled to share in the revenues thereby generated
- all person should be entitled to a secure future after they can no longer work. That means either expanding Social Security and including all and making it universal (some are now excluded) or moving to restore defined benefit pensions in the private sector
- that it is past time we join most of the rest of the civilized world and ban capital punishment
This list is incomplete. The items on it remain more than a little inchoate. My thinking is far from being finished.
I only know this - that if I am not willing to stand myself on matters of principle, I can hardly expect our politicians to act as I might want.
This is my list
This is my thinking.
Do with it what you will.