Ray Pensador asks what our platform should be. I submit that there should be one consideration above all others -- ending human suffering. If it ends human suffering, then it is a good thing. If it creates human suffering, then it should be opposed tooth and nail. Everybody should benefit; or if that is not possible, then the greatest happiness for the greatest number. If a policy position does not hold true to the values of love, truth, justice, or freedom then it should be thrown out.
He lists four things:
Money and politics: We view this as the root cause of political corruption and co-option. It basically means that wealthy interests (individuals and corporate cartels) buy off politicians through a system of legalized bribery (campaign donations and lucrative revolving door jobs) in order to influence them into adopting policies/legislation that ends up exploiting and oppressing the population, and destroying our natural environment.There has to be a process of constant questioning, always asking questions to politicians of how they plan to hold people accountable who do not do their jobs and regulate the industries like they should. Don't accuse; don't argue; question. Ask them what they have done to fight corruption lately and hold them to any promises they make.
Therefore, we seek to understand exactly how this process is taking place, and to expose it, and oppose it. We seek to expose the corruption, the questionable relationships, and the hypocrisy--of politicians saying one thing in order to be elected, and doing something else (to the benefit of their paymasters) when they are in office (hoping to cash in with lucrative revolving door jobs when they leave).
We understand that during the last several years Wall Street engaged in massive criminal activity, looting the country's (and citizen's) coffers, and that it appears that government functionaries may have shielded them from accountability.
Civil And Constitutional Rights: We value our freedoms and our constitutional rights. We value privacy rights, workers' rights, women's rights. We believe in the rights of workers to unionize. We object to corporate-influenced national security apparatus being used as a tool of oppression against the citizenry, and thus we do not accept the premise that government and corporate spy networks have the right to collect data on us indiscriminately, to build massive dossiers on millions of citizens, and to target individuals and organizations in order to disrupt their constitutionally-protected rights as activists.It all starts with the President appointing judges who care about our civil rights. Keep in mind that when you're voting for President, you're voting for two thirds of the branches of government seeing that he appoints SCOTUS judges as well as other federal judges. And it also starts at the local level, where we elect judges who will uphold the law and not try to impose their personal agenda. And it involves protecting non-partisan court plans at the state level which allows independent judges to be appointed to the bench. And it involves fighting judges who do not support the ideals that Ray has laid out.
We reject, oppose, and unite in solidarity against government abuses of power, including the detention of people without charge, war crimes like extra-judicial assassinations of American citizens, the killing of thousands of innocent people as the result of unmanned drone attacks.
We oppose the privatization of prisons (and horrendous abuses of undocumented immigrants, including beatings, rape, inadequate health care), and public schools.
We advocate for LGBT rights, voting rights, women's rights, worker's rights, environmental protection.
Military Industrial Complex: We oppose and reject the military industrial complex insofar as it is used for the benefit of war profiteers who have an incentive to manufacture conflicts around the world. We've seen this happened in recent history, in Iraq, for example.This is where the right has it all backwards. They like to talk about dismantling government; however, they ignore the fact that we are running a massive corporate welfare state that creates a culture of fear so that we can whip up the hysteria for the next war. So the next time you hear a politician complaining about dismantling the size of government, ask them if they support dismantling the military industrial complex. The fact is that Iraq and Afghanistan have added trillions to the national debt after we had surpluses by the time Bill Clinton left office.
We reject the massive amount of jingoistic propaganda every time the MIC tries to hoodwink the population into another misadventure for which the public ends up paying the highest price.
There is nothing wrong with what Ray is saying. But we can simplify it by reducing each political position, bill, proposal, or platform into one question -- does it create suffering, or does it end suffering?
Let's use abortion as an example. Fetuses do not feel pain until at least 24 weeks. That is because the parts of the brain which are required to feel it do not form until then. That is why laws which restrict or ban abortions before then do not make any sense -- you are not creating any suffering for the fetus when you have an abortion before then; furthermore, the fetus does not become viable before that time. After 24 weeks, laws restricting or banning abortion make more sense on the surface; however, what happens if the woman's life is in danger? Who should get to decide whether the woman's life is in sufficient danger after 24 weeks that they need to terminate their pregnancy? In that case, terminating a pregnancy can still be seen as similar to an act of self-defense, which nobody says we should ban.
In the meantime, safe and legal abortions can reduce suffering in any number of ways. A sudden change of circumstances might mean that the family is no longer financially able to raise a child. The fetus might have Down's Syndrome and the family might not have the resources to take care of them. A condom might have broken and the couple is not ready to have children. Most people do not take the decision to have an abortion lightly or flippantly as the right seems to imply. The goal of any choice should be for people to look back on it and know that it was the right choice to make. A family might decide despite sudden financial loss that raising a child will be worth it in the end. That is why it is called choice.
Anti-abortion advocates like to argue that the next logical step is infanticide. But not with our yardstick. First of all, under the Constitution, everyone who is "born in the US" has full personhood rights and is entitled to the full protection of the law. This includes cases where an abortion is attempted, but the fetus survives the abortion attempt. But, getting back to our subject, a newborn infant is fully capable of experiencing pain and suffering based on the scientific evidence noted above. So there is no legitimate legal or moral basis to defend infanticide. Protecting the right of people to reduce suffering in the world -- their own and others -- through a legitimate medical procedure and advocating infanticide are mutually exclusive positions. One creates suffering, the other reduces it.
Let's use Syria as another -- based on the lessons of Iraq, where we killed over a million people, it is not feasible for us to invade and occupy that country, even if it didn't risk raising tensions with Russia even more. But there are things we can do. We can contribute our fair share towards helping refugees. We can open our doors for as many as we can and encourage allies to do the same and match them with jobs and housing. We can study how small arms are getting into the hands of the belligerents and find ways of stopping the flow.
The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal. Unfortunately, ever since we were founded, we lost sight of that ideal. We treated human beings as cattle from the slaves and Native Americans of previous times to the present day where we are housing immigrants in Washington in substandard conditions to the point where 1,200 are now engaging in a hunger strike. As long as there is one homeless person in this country or one who has to live in substandard conditions, that is not acceptable. The battle is not over until poverty and suffering in this country are history.