Wednesday, August 6, 2008

UU Presidential Campaign

While I'm a strong advocate for the separation of church and state, that doesn't mean I feel morality and governance should be exclusive. And like most people, the morality system I am most comfortable with is the one adhered to by my religious denomination (qualifier: these are the principles of UU congregations, not of UUs themselves, though Unitarians tend to agree with them).

That out of the way, here would be the focus of a presidential campaign I would run, with policies sorted by the principle they fall under.
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
There would be no barriers for marriage between two consenting adults. Sexual orientation and gender identity would be added to the federal roster of hate crimes.

The drinking age would be lowered to 18 - legal adult status should confer all the benefits of being an adult. I would appoint only justices who would rule laws such as cell phone bans that target only teenagers and curfews as unconsitutional. I would endeavor to end the criminalization of youth.

I would veto any proposed resurrection of the PATRIOT ACT, and I would do my best to end the one already in place. Civil Liberties would be guaranteed and fought for.
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Justice domestically would be re-thought. 1% of the US adult population is in prison. There is no way to justify this - even dangerous deviancy can't be all that deviant if it affects 1-in-a-100. That makes it almost normal. The big focus in rethinking the US criminal Justice system would be an emphasis away from jail time for victimless crimes (to either fines for committing the act or decriminalization of the act), a lack of disparity between state and federal sentencing laws (an emphasis away from federal drug laws here), and moves towards a system that rehabilitates.

Welfare needs to be moved away from a system of shame, and I think that looking at it as a vital task of the government, of society, to provide for the people most screwed by capitalism. Not that we should do away with capitalism; it's a great system, provided government steps in to pick up where it leaves people destroyed. The changes I'm thinking of are "free health care to everyone on welfare (and eventually universal health care. Hey, if post-WWII Britain can do it, why not the richest country in the world?), government-subsidized child care, etc. And all this could be funded by, get this, a windfall tax on oil revenues". (qaulifier: I'm following the advice of a current Foliage Commandant here)

There would be more tax forgiveness for charitable donations.

Affirmative action would be changed so that race or life below a certain economic threshold allowed eligibility.

While it wouldn't be possible in the space of even a couple of presidencies, a shift of the justice system away from one that punishes for the benefit of the state to one that facilitates recompense so that parties in conflict end in right relation would be pursued.
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
This one, good though it is, is denomination-specific. It would just affirm Supreme Court Justice appointments to those who respect a diversity of religious opinion.
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
No Child Left Behind: Local 'burque blogger and perennial favorite of Duke City cynics, Scot Key has a good run-down of why the law has failed everyone. Under the UU-informed administration, this law would be done away with.

A free and responsible search for truth and meaning is impossible without qualified teachers. I think a national initiative to make public school teaching positions both high-paying and prestigious would create greater demand for teachers, and supply would adjust accordingly. Debt forgiveness programs for commitments to teach for 2-5 years in inner-city schools would be extended. The "responsible" search would be accommodated by a change to longitudinal testing, where each grade would be tested against their performance from the previous year; the tests would be a valuable metric to see what teachers were successful, what students were independently failing and in need of different practices, and this metric would be used to create a more reliable way for performance based hirings and firings. It's a hint of the free market, but that brings freedom and the potential for systems to self-perfect.
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
I'm an ardent supporter of Lessig and his Change Congress initiative. I realize that elected officials can take the pledge and act accordingly, but that this reform focuses on citizens being able to take public information, call politicians on it, and hold them accountable. As such, measures to ensure and create greater, moire useful transparency would be proposed, as would laws protecting citizen activists who hold politicians accountable.

Internet freedoms fall as easily under here as they do anywhere else, so I here is where I say support Net Neutrality, where I believe that individual freedom and privacy are fundamentals that most be adhered to at all costs online, and that warrants are needed for the government to access information online. While telecom immunity was recently passed, I believe that there shall be no protection for companies who act against their great moral and constitutional obligations to protect citizens privacy; acting under orders is not a sound defense, especially when the orders come from government but contradict founding tenets of government.
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
We need a new foreign policy. One that respects the rule of law, one that respects international standards, and one that treats terrorists as enemy nationals and not as stateless actors; the risk and the damage caused to innocents outweighs all the benefit done by the detention of terrorists, and has long since eroded any ideas of the United States as a moral bastion and an exemplar of conduct.

The US would negotiate a withdraw from Iraq at the UN, with elected Iraqi leaders taking part and with an eye towards stability in the region as paramount. Under UN authorization the US would be allowed to continue its efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

Th US, under a UU-informed administration, would support multinationalism, and would abide by international restrictions when it comes to the unilateral use of force. But the US would also use soft power to advocate for freedoms abroad, freedoms that it would no longer be denying to citizens, or to foreign nationals detained within the US. The US would go back to being a signatory and supporter for the International Criminal Court, and would allow for the trials of US leaders accused of war crimes.
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
The federal government is the trustee of public lands, and no land that is currently held in common would be privatized. That said, I believe it would be worthwhile to explore the possibility of minimum-impact domestic drilling, but that would be only supplemental to the development of green energy sources, and the smart development of modern nuclear reactors 9which would borrow technology and inspiration from France, who is 30 years ahead of us at this). We have a right and a duty to protect the environment, but it is politically impossible to at every turn chose the environment over people. This is about interdependence, and the best way to be a good steward is to see to it that meeting the needs of humans is met in a way that best protects the environment. Treating people and nature as oppositional hurts people, weakens the causes of the environmentalists, and makes green-friendly politicians vulnerable in elections to those who would despoil the earth.


I know, this is a lot. And yeah, it's mostly moot because I'm unelectable anyway. Still, I think this is a good idea of what a president informed by my take on UU values would espouse. If you have any other ideas of UU presidential aspirations, or re-thinking of how I see the principles applied to governance, feel free to leave a comment.

1 comment:

Mega said...

Can Kelseytopia be next to Scottland? I would like dual citizenship...But really, why can't we have more people like you running the show?