As a political moderate who values sanity and evidence over emotional rage in politics, I really tried to keep an open mind about the various candidates from across the political spectrum.
I wanted to listen to what they had to say, watch how respectfully they treated the other candidates — across party lines — and dissect and challenge their empty rhetoric.
Things I believe in
We live in a digital world, that will continue to become more digital as time passes. We need to support the continued freedom of the Internet against businesses/oligarchies/cartels who would try to de-level the playing field for monetary gains (see Net Neutrality).
God made us stewards of this earth, and we need to take that responsibility seriously — whether or not we believe that the earth will still be around at some point in the future. Also, yes, global warming and climate change are a real thing. God invented science, and science says that, yes, climate change is occurring.
As an American citizen, there are certain things that I believe should be considered rights because they are fundamental to the American way of life as a whole (whether you personally choose to use them or not). Running water, electricity, functional roads, Internet access, a police force, a fire department, access to doctors and health professionals. These should be parts of the safety net that holds America together at a fundamental level.
I strongly support “freedom” in America, by which I mean that I support laws and legislation that are the best interests of individual citizens. Laws that help and lift the American people, and NOT those which discriminate, NOT those those which are pro-monopoly/oligarchy, and NOT those that favor the rich more than the poor, and NOT those which support theocracy in America.
I believe that education is the singularly-most-important thing that Americans can do for ourselves. By ensuring that even the poorest of us has a good education, we raise the level for everyone in the nation. Comparatively to other nations, our scores have been dropping across the board. We cannot continue to do things the way that we’ve been doing them. I believe that Common Core is a good thing because it helps to push the next generation forward, even if it means that parents (who weren’t that good at math and english anyway) get left behind. Educate every child, regardless of their immigration, income or social status. Make college more affordable. Demand higher standards for graduating — with a strong focus on math, english, the Internet, and critical thinking.
My daughter will grow-up to be the greatest woman in the history of earth. Why is she only worth 77% of a man in the workplace? I’ve seen/heard how women are treated in the dating scene and it’s disgusting. I am ashamed of my gender. I want my daughter to understand that she’s worth so much more than how some idiot on the street will probably treat her. I want my son AND my daughter to know themselves, their emotions, their bodies, and how they work so that they can make better decisions for themselves in relationships.
Why is it OK for Fox to air movies by Michael Bay with violence and explosions and nobody bats an eye, or the Real Housewives of Wherever with constant cat-fighting and passive-aggressive jealousy, but everybody loses their collective minds when Miley Cyrus accidentally shows one nipple on the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs)? I mean, I understand that the American colonies were started by The Puritans, but it’s just a nipple.
The war on drugs was a failure, so let’s move on. Of the many lectures that my dad gave me growing-up, “you can’t change anybody but yourself” is the one that has stuck with me over the years. That includes drug users. Why is marijuana illegal but alcohol legal? Why is medical/therapeutic uses of MDMA by licensed professionals a felony when it has been used to help people all over the world?
We over-incarcerate, then make it nearly impossible for people to re-build their lives post-incarceration. We should de-criminalize drug offenses, and many non-violent offenses, and instead push harder for more, legitimate, rehabilitation. “Mandatory minimums” are based on flawed logic that is not supported by factual evidence and are simply the result of fear-mongering.
Sex-offense laws are fundamentally broken. A 17 & 18 year old boyfriend and girlfriend sleep together. The oldest of the two is convicted of “rape” and ends up on the sex-offender registry — in some places (like California), for life. The number of people on the sex-offender registry who re-offend are in the low, single-digit percents (<5%). What about the other 95% of people who made mistakes, are convicted of non-violent sexual indiscretions, but become social pariahs? Those who can’t get jobs to feed themselves and their families? Who can get additional time added-on to their punishments on a whim, but have it be considered an “administrative change” as opposed to being based on something objective like their sentencing by a judge.
I am pro-contraception, pro-sex education, pro-sex for enjoyment, pro-sexual responsibility, and pro-life. I believe that if you want to prevent abortions, you need to provide support for contraception, sexual health, sexual education, and adoption. You cannot support “abstinence-only ‘education’” and also be pro-life, and expect any kind of positive results. We need to give the people the education and tools that they need to make positive decisions. There are civil rights, and there are natural rights, and when in conflict, natural rights will always trump civil rights. This includes the right to be born in the first place. I believe that life begins when a fertilized egg implants itself into the uterine lining and, if left alone, would result in the birth of a child. Yes, there are horrible things and horrible people in this world, and bad things happen to good people. I sympathize very much with victims of violent sexual acts (including rape), and the unfairness/horribleness of the matter not something that can be easily dismissed. But, when all issues from all sides are considered, I still find myself squarely on the side of life.
I support the advancement of stem-cell research. If a child’s life has been lost to abortion, then instead of simply throwing-out the bodies (or pieces of the body, in some cases), allow that child’s death to be used for something positive. Studying stem-cells has already shown positive results in helping with cell-regeneration impacting hearing and sight recovery, as well as ALS (a.k.a., Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
Changing jobs from a congressperson to a lobbyist is a massive conflict of interest. The average congressperson spends 30-70% of their time fundraising for their next term. When they leave congress for a lobbyist job in the private sector, their salary usually jumps by 10x. How is this in the best interests of of the American people?
I absolutely hate it when politicians turn-on the mud-slinging, telling me who to vote against, instead of telling why they themselves are worth voting for. This is a gigantic negative for me, because an effective leader is NOT one who pulls to one side and stands their ground no matter what, but rather one who listens, collaborates, and finds ways to bring people together so that we can move forward as a single nation. This is one area where I’ve seen President Obama try very hard to bring both sides together, but wasn’t able to pull it off because most of our congresspeople choose to behave like babies.
I believe that only having 2 major political parties is one of the worst aspects of American politics. Anything we can do to break-apart the two-party system would be a fantastic improvement over what we have today.
I was raised in a very conservative, Christian, Republican household. I was taught that you had to vote Republican because otherwise the evil Democrats will win. And although they never actually said it, I was definitely taught that Jesus votes Republican. It wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I started seriously reviewing the issues, asking hard questions about them, and seeing where things still stood up vs. where they fell down. In the end, I realized that most things I’d been taught, politically, didn’t stand-up to scrutiny very well. I also wasn’t a strong supporter of most of what the Democratic party stood for either, so I find myself as an Independent — neither major party represents me.
With the direction that the Republican party has taken over the last 20 years, I find that they represent me less and less with each passing year. My own observations have shown me: More discrimination. More lying and misdirection instead of facts. More hatred towards people who aren’t WASPs (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants). More fear, uncertainty and doubt. More pro-theocratic thinking. Anti-women efforts. Pro-business/anti-citizen efforts. Support of the Constitution, but against the Government, because they don’t know how the Constitution works. Things are all things that a well-educated, thoughtful individual (as I see myself being) cannot get in-line with.
Rankings and Standings
For me, this is how the various candidates break down after the past several months of reading, watching, asking questions, and challenging their rhetoric. There are zero people whom I agree with 100%. Some issues matter more to me than others, and based on the ones that matter, this is where I stand with the current candidates.
Definitely Yes: Larry Lessig, Bernie Sanders — Both are pro-citizen, are willing to listen to others, campaign finance reform, do NOT take an us-against-them stance, and support positive change for this country. They have not accepted any money from Super PACs, except for Larry Lessig who founded the MayDay Super PAC — “the Super PAC to end all Super PACs.” I disagree with Bernie Sanders’ stance on abortion, but fully support his stance on reproductive health, contraception, and sexual education.
Wouldn’t be Angry: Hillary Clinton — She’s pro-women and pro-minorities, which could help to lay the groundwork for when my daughter comes of age. I have not seen her do any mud-slinging thus far, except to suggest that she disagrees with much of what was discussed during the Republican debates. At the same time, she’s done some really shady things around sending top-secret emails though her personal email server (!!), and she supports treating Edward Snowden like a domestic terrorist. She’s also raised most of her money from Super PACs.
Would be irritated: Rand Paul — He’s been really hit-or-miss so far. He started his campaign by slinging mud and rhetoric against Hillary Clinton instead of telling us why we should vote for him. He supports simplifying the tax code (yay!) but is against Net Neutrality (boo!). He is also a candidate that has enjoyed using the rhetorical call-to-action “we need to take America back” without ever explaining what on earth that even means. Back to the Salem Witch Trials? Back to slavery and segregation? Back to when women couldn’t vote? Back to the recession, multiple wars, and the Credit Crisis from last decade?
OMGWTFBBQ: Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina — Ted Cruz wants to kill the Ayatollah and thinks that Net Neutrality is ObamaCare for the Internet. Mike Huckabee believes that it’s perfectly OK for a government employee to violate the Constitution because it’s against Kim Davis’ faith to support gay marriage. Of course, so is sex outside of marriage and divorcing for reasons other than infidelity or abandonment¹²³⁴, but who’s counting? The others, I simply disagree with on the majority of issues — at least in cases where they are clear where they stand.
The worst possible thing for America: Donald Trump — Misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, sexist, selfish, pro-business at the cost of individual citizens, enthusiastically leverages tax/legal loopholes for personal gain, and is a supporter of continued “cronyism” in government. Although, I agree with him that we should stop buying oil from foreign nations, and should instead rely on ourselves.
I am most-aligned with Elizabeth Warren, although she isn’t running — this time around, anyway.