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My Very Own 2016 Political Platform Wish List
My Very Own 2016 Political Platform Wish List
I have been following the political machinations of the Democratic and Republican parties with considerable interest for these past several weeks leading up to their respective national conventions. The time was fast approaching and efforts to carve out party platforms were in their full creative process. Both Presidential presumptive nominees were in the process of wooing their inter-party opposition to actively support them by adopting some of their policies.
Donald Trump was attempting to prove his conservative credentials to his Republican opposition that deeply distrusted him. Senator Bernie Sanders and his supporters attempted to and were largely successful in having the Democratic party adopt a political platform that was very amenable to Senator Sanders' policies.
The resulting major political party platforms are an amalgam of the nominee's policies, the broader party's policies, and olive branches to the major candidates who lost the nomination. The party platforms are in no way binding to the party's nominee but are an insight into the state of the party's political temperature as well as who is most influencing the nominee and the party.
All of this has brought me around to thinking about what my own political platform would be and how it relates to the major political party platforms. I will outline in this Hub my major policy preferences in three categories. These are economics, social issues, and foreign policy. Finally I will describe how I feel these policies and those of the parties are likely to advance or fail and why.
My economic platform will center around three major planks all of which will attempt to halt and eventually reverse much of the dramatic increase in the wealth gap within the United States. The first step will be to make major changes to the United States income tax code primarily to make it more progressive.
I have argued in previous Hubs that the American economy has been recovering at a much slower pace historically after the 2008 financial meltdown. This is due to the hoarding of their expanded wealth by the very rich in the United States. In no way am I arguing for a return to the extremely high top income tax rates of 70-90% that prevailed in the 1950's. These rates stifle investment.
The 2001 income tax cuts that the George W. Bush administration engineered took these rates to the other extreme. President Barack Obama could have allowed all of these cuts to expire but compromised with his Republican opposition which allowed many of the cuts to remain while raising the rates for the very wealthy.
My argument is that we need to re-circulate this dormant wealth by increasing the top income tax rates by a few percentage points. The increased revenue will then be re-invested in the middle and lower classes through the strengthening and expanding of our social programs. This will dramatically stimulate the economy by putting more wealth in the hands of the people who need to spend it. I would also increase our estate tax rates and cut many of the tax loopholes that the very rich and corporations utilize to avoid paying their fair share into our economy.
The cuts to our social safety net since 2011 when the Republicans regained power in Congress have been dramatic. I believe we need to restore these programs to their former strengthen and in most cases expand them. Programs for the poor such as Food Stamps and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were sharply cut.
Both Medicare and Medicaid were potential targets for expansion during the negotiations leading up to the passage of the 2010 Affordable Healthcare Act. Unfortunately the Democrats made cuts instead to Medicare to fund this new law instead of expanding it to more people. Congressional Republicans have failed to fully fund the Medicaid expansion for the poor to afford this new healthcare coverage. Also many states have refused to fund this major expansion because the Supreme Court ruled that they could not be forced to do so.
Social Security needs to have its funding strengthened due to the steady retirements of the baby boom generation. Republicans have responded to challenges such as this in the past by cutting benefits and increasing the retirement age.
My platform would be to restore past cuts in Social Security while increasing the funding base dramatically by raising the income threshold for taxing individuals. Small increases in this level would dramatically increase revenues with little pain to the general public. This level has remained constant for years and is way past due for an inflationary increase.
The Affordable Healthcare Act should also become fully funded with all of its Medicare and Medicaid reductions in spending fully restored. All of this spending would be instantly circulated throughout the economy raising all boats and sending us into a true robust recovery.
My last economic platform plank would be to raise the national minimum wage rate to a minimally livable rate of $15 per hour over a four year period. The minimum wage rate is very rarely raised and not to a large extent when it is. This is another example where a social program or device is allowed to lag far behind inflation therefore greatly watering it down.
The American people need a minimum wage rate that allows people to live albeit at a low sustainable level. The current $7.25 per hour rate is nowhere near a livable level and is terribly inhumane. Raising it to $15 over four years would remedy this and would be a tremendous shot in the arm for the U.S. economy. These workers would instantly have to spend this higher income increasing economic activity dramatically and quickly.
Most of the jobs directly effected by this wage increase are in local service jobs that cannot be exported so its impact on unemployment will be negligible. The job base will eventually be expanded as our economy grows due to this increased consumer spending. Thus it will be a win-win situation for everyone in our economy.
The first plank of my social issues platform would be in regards to ensuring equality of opportunity and treatment for all groups within the United States. This includes African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, the LGBT community, and any minority group that has been oppressed. Many of these problems are already being addressed though usually in a piecemeal fashion.
The problems that African Americans are having in a highly public fashion with law enforcement have actually been occurring for decades. Very few people consider themselves to be biased or racist but the fact of the matter is that everyone has biases and we are all effected by them. Fear and distrust of African Americans, especially young Black males, is highly palatable including within established institutions in our society.
My platform plank would be to work to ensure in every possible way that government strives for non-discrimination against all groups. This is being done now but needs to be supplemented by programs that would promote more active participation between groups which will help to foster empathy among them.
There is also a bi-partisan movement to reform the criminal justice system. The 1990's draconian drug laws were aimed at eradicating the booming crack epidemic but fell disproportionately upon minority communities. Black and Latino defendants were much more likely to be convicted of these offenses than their White counterparts. Furthermore these sentences were often for many years of incarceration even for minor drug offenses. There should be a determined effort to speed this process of reform to bring more normalcy to the process and free the prisoners who have not committed violent crimes.
Finally, the Justice department should conduct a more widespread and intense nationwide examination into police practices including racial profiling. This should be done in partnership with local police departments to ensure that minorities are not being targeted and incarcerated in an unfair manner.
The second platform plank would be to push for national legislation for women to protect them against the growing state and local regulations aimed at limiting their personal choices. These personal choices include reproductive rights, healthcare options, equal pay and employment options, as well as any other area that men consider sacrosanct for themselves.
The defensive moves we need to make are to challenge all of these new state and local laws in Federal and State courts. A key linchpin of this strategy would be the nomination and ratification of the ninth member of the United States Supreme Court whose jurisprudence would be amenable to the upholding of a woman's choice in all of her personal matters.
Voting rights and campaign finance control would form my final social issues platform plank. Many people would argue that these are not social issues at all. I argue that if we do not pass legislation upholding voting rights and do not take big money out of elections, then all of our social protections and programs will be in jeopardy.
Unfortunately the remedies to these problems once again will primarily fall on our courts to uphold. The Voting Rights Act has been seriously crippled by the U.S. Supreme Court due to their decision to allow states to pass their own voting laws without prior U.S. Justice department approval. Now it is up to the Justice department to go to the courts after each law's passage to prove that it suppresses the vote. This remedy process is much slower and less assured than the previous intact Voting Rights Act.
Democrats in Congress have tried to amend the law to satisfy the Court but Republicans have blocked every effort. Therefore it is imperative that the Justice department remains vigilant and aggressive at every turn.
Winning majorities in Congress would help their chances of passing a new Voting Rights Act but getting to select the next Supreme Court Justice will be the key to success in this area. The same holds true for changing or overturning the Citizens United decision which has allowed this flood of money from wealthy donors and corporations. Nominating a progressive Supreme Court Justice to the bench will greatly improve the chances of overturning the Citizens United decision or upholding a new replacement law.
My foreign policy platform planks all rely on one common theme. That is the continued working with other countries to accomplish our important strategic goals. The first and foremost being the defeat of (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) ISIL in the Middle East and beyond.
President Obama has ushered in a new era of strong diplomacy to gain support among our allies especially in the Middle East. This is in stark contrast to the President George W. Bush administration which essentially paid lip service to gaining international support for the Iraq War. Republicans have declared President Barack Obama to be weak on foreign policy due to these discussions and collaborations. They fail to acknowledge his successful drone bombing campaign against Al-Qaeda and now ISIL during his two terms as President.
I believe this current policy is a wise one and should be continued even against the backdrop of legal arguments against these missile attacks. The President's policy of working with allies to fight ISIL in Iraq and Syria has proven to be fruitful and should be continued. The Middle East nations are now on board with this strategy and are up front fighting these battles giving them ownership of their destiny. It is also keeping the United States from being portrayed as the villain by Arab citizens and leaders in the Middle East.
Secondly, we should re-double the efforts of the Obama Administration to strengthen its ties to Europe, Asia, and neighboring Latin America. Russia has been a rising threat in Europe evidenced by their invasion of the Crimean section of the Ukraine. We have to reassert our cooperation with NATO and their participatory nations to reaffirm our resolve to defend Europe against Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggressive actions and pronouncements.
We also need to show our strong support for the European Union so the recent Brexit event remains an isolated incident. The splintering of the European Union would decimate Europe and likely wreak havoc on the world economy. Totally separate European nations would also increase the chances of armed conflicts in this region.
Increased cooperation with our Latin American neighbors is also vitally important. Many of these economies are still reeling after the 2008 financial meltdown which means our support is important in preventing them from once again exploring the Communist or authoritarian options.
This brings us to to the Far East region. China has become the second largest economic power in the world and is arguably the second or third military power. Thus we have a very important relationship with them which is also very vital to the world's economy and security. This view was crystallized by how much the markets were shook when China's economic growth slowed earlier this year.
We need to continue to strengthen our diplomatic ties with them. They have grudgingly liberalized their markets in the past but they have been chastened by this new slower growth. More substantial changes could be made as the Chinese government attempts to revive it's economy's formerly robust growth.
The other nations in the Far East region have become extremely wary of China's economic and military strength. Therefore we need to also strengthen our ties with them to allay their fears and also to boost them economically especially with the new Transpacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.
North Korea's increased nuclear belligerence is terrifying the Far East nations including China. A tipping point for China could be coming in the near future concerning their support for North Korea due to these reckless military actions and insane vocal overtures. We should continue and even increase negotiations with China to see if we could become partners in further isolating and ultimately deposing the North Korean government.
The passing of the TPP agreement is critical to our relations with the Far East nations. I believe that people opposed to this agreement, mostly Democrats, are being very shortsighted in their views. Some jobs will be lost early on but this agreement will greatly increase economic activity increasing new jobs at a faster rate for all nations involved. Furthermore strong trading partnerships bolster friendly relations which is key for us in relation to this rapidly growing region.
My final foreign policy plank encompasses every category but I have decided to included it here. The issue of climate change is an existential one. We must partner with all of the nations of the world to halt this lethal trend and eventually set it on a course to return our climate to its optimal condition. We must quickly wean ourselves away from fossil fuels into alternative renewable fuel options. Our failure to do so will eventually render all other issues moot. This effort must begin here at home but cannot be accomplished alone. It must be a worldwide effort.
Most of the platform policies that I have outlined are in line with those of the Democratic party. My support of TPP and free trade in general is the notable exception. Many of these platform planks are highly dependent on one main event. That is the nomination and ratification of a new Supreme Court Justice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
The demographic voting patterns within the United States have been rapidly changing over the past ten years largely to the detriment of the Republicans. Their answer to these changes have been twofold and have been strengthened by the Supreme Court. These were the Citizens United decision and the Voting Rights Act alteration.
These decisions have resulted in a inundation of money from wealthy individuals and corporations into our election campaigns. Republicans have been the major beneficiaries of these funds due to their policies of lower taxes and regulations that are attractive to these donors.
Many states that have Republican majority governments have passed new voting laws that have been designed to limit the level of minority voters to ensure their own political dominance. These voters have proven to be heavily Democratic. Democrats now have to go to court after these laws are passed to have them examined instead of the other way around. This process can often take too long thus altering the upcoming election.
I have written a fairly comprehensive personal political platform. There are two views that I have stated that are most important and dwarf the rest of them. I am a Democrat and I do support the Democratic party. It is vital that we elect Hillary Clinton as President. The main reason is the United States Supreme Court. The next President will get to nominate at least one but probably more Justices. Many of the platform planks I have espoused are contingent on positive Court rulings in regards to my views.
The second issue is climate change. I know there are many conservative Republicans that have stated extreme skepticism regarding this issue. Within scientific circles there is overwhelming agreement that our planet is in peril. We must step up our response to it before it is too late. The clock is ticking on our children's futures.
I know this was a very long Hub though I did not intend it to be when I first embarked on this exercise. Hopefully this will not deter you from also developing your point of view on issues that are important to you in your decision on how to vote this November.
It is a crucial election as are all all elections, especially Presidential ones. Too often apathy and turnout decide these contests. I urge everyone to educate themselves on these issues and by all means, please vote. It does count and is vital for the future of this nation. Thank you for your indulgence.