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It’s become a bit cliche, but it still holds true: the Chinese character for “crisis” is made of the symbols representing “danger” and “opportunity.” I believe we Americans are living in revolutionary times that call us to envision a brighter and drastically different economic future. I will fight to fund and promote credit unions, not big bank bailouts. I will work to cap interest rates, especially on existing balances, and will vigorously investigate the failures of the Treasury and its abdication of responsibility.
I will fight vigorously to ensure that the rights guaranteed to every citizen under the 14th Amendment are not undermined by arbitrary and capricious state or federal laws. Equal rights inherit to the citizen, not to a particular family structure. We have wrongly developed varied laws based on family units that discriminate against gays and their families, Muslims and their families, single-parent families and others. Returning to the Constitutional roots of citizens’ rights will end the conflict between protected religious rites and the rights of all citizens. I do not support the Defense of Marriage Act or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
I will work to protect the right of religious institutions to be free from state interference. This means allowing religions to perform their own marriage ceremonies, to enjoy tax exempt status, and allowing religious exemptions for organizations such as Catholic charities seeking federal funding for medical institutions. I would not force pharmacists to violate their religious faiths to work at state hospitals and would work to create legal accommodation for the many faiths that make up our body politic.
Freedom to Bear Arms
An armed citizenry is the best protection against attack from without and tyranny from within. I will support common-sense controls on assault weapons, but will stand firm in protecting the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear sidearms and rifles. I favor strong sentencing for gun crime, and barring felons from legal access to deadly weapons.
Reform Drug Laws
When elected to Congress, I will immediately move to legalize and regulate the sale of marijuana. Tacit legalization through state-by-state decriminalization and “medical cannabis” (as tested in California since 1996) has proven a disastrous failure. Our prisons are dangerous and overcrowded, non-violent criminals who could easily be rehabilitated languish under harsh minimum sentences, and Mexican cartels and urban gangsters flourish. Prohibition of marijuana, like alcohol before it, has proved foolish and far too costly. Legalization would not only reduce drug-related violence, it would create funds for increased mental health funding and counseling for those who find themselves dependent on the drug.
Universal Health Care
I will join President Obama in his vision of a new health care system for America. Universal and portable health care for all Americans is necessary for resuscitating our economy, as more workers seek independent careers as freelancers and small business owners, and fewer each year see a single career as a viable or attractive life choice. Massive health care reform, while protecting the rights to choice of care, will claw back billions of dollars for care instead of insurance systems.
Communications Reform/Open Government
I will fight to make the legislative process transparent and simple, and to end the practice of lumping together disparate issues in common bills. I will fight to end duplication of services across the federal government, and to ensure that records serve a purpose and are not simply stacked and stored. I support process systems that will end punitive regulation of business and instead ensure that they are fully knowledgeable of and compliant with environmental and safety regulations when they open, not following punitive inspections.
I will fight to fully fund public education and provide parents with a choice of options, including small schools and those with arts and tech focus. Programs like “Teach for America” inspire talented young teachers to work for low wages in inner-city schools. We can do the same across America by inspiring a new generation of teachers, reducing bureaucracy and increasing pay through the savings of technological reform, including one-stop data entry and “smart” enrollment systems.
Israel, Terrorism and Foreign Aid
Terrorism flourishes in the Middle East because violent non-state actors have become the de facto social services providers for a wide swath of the region’s poor. I would fight to dramatically increase social services funding in unstable areas, and continue the U.S. strong support for the progressive Israeli democracy. I will oppose, by any means necessary, Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon.
I will work with President Obama and Van Jones to usher in a new era of energy, with smart systems, jobs for laborers and craftsmen, and new engineering centers around clean power.
Democratic Reforms at Home
I will support creating and empowering local government councils to advise Congressional leaders on their increasingly large districts. I will be seeking advice on this issue from a number of populist activist groups and minor parties.
I have taken the Change Congress pledge, and will work to reform electoral finance system to allow for public funding of all federal elections and create systems that encourage greater competition for high office.
I talk about these issues and my background for 70 minutes, here.