It will not surprise you to learn that I am not running for president this year. There are many reasons for this.
• I am a virtual nobody, just some guy who runs a blog
• My closest brush with political office was being vice president of the condominium association, hardly the sort of qualifications most voters are looking for
• As you will find out, my positions would make me unelectable
• I tend toward introversion. Shaking hands, kissing babies and making speeches are all things that I do not enjoy.
• I hate telephone soliciting. Yet if you are serious about running for any office, unless you are independently wealthy your first act is to call everyone you know and schmooze them for dollars. Where’s the fun in that?
• I am a federal employee. There is this inconvenient law called The Hatch Act, which means if I want to run for any political office, I must first quit my job. I am quite attached to my pension and do not want to diminish it.
Still, if dumpy middle-aged guys can give tens of thousands of dollars to attend fantasy sports camps, I can run a fantasy presidential campaign. I thought that since this is a fantasy I would give you my positions on the issues so you can cast your fantasy vote for or against me. You will quickly see that I am unelectable. In my defense, I will say that if my positions could be enacted into law, the world would be a much better place. Unfortunately, my positions while they probably would be effective would also be politically unacceptable.
While my run for the presidency is fantasy, I am quite serious that these are my real positions on what should be done on some of the important issues of the day.
Civil Rights. I believe that not only are we all created equal but also we all must be treated equally by the law. I would require that all trial attorneys spend a court specified percentage of their time to ensure that the poor and indigent get the same quality of legal representation as the rest of us. All lawyers would be reimbursed for their services, but all at the same rate based on the local cost of living. Citizen review committees would assess the quality of a lawyer’s legal representation for those who cannot afford a lawyer. If a trial lawyer failed to provide roughly equal representation for his poor clients compared with his paid clients, he would be disbarred.
Defense. I think our defense budget is vastly bloated with much of it going toward weapons systems that attempt to solve military problems with 20th century solutions. I would work to chop it by at least a third and invest some small amount of the savings into greatly expanding the State Department and our foreign aid. Let’s turn at least some swords into plowshares! The Peace Corps would be dramatically expanded. We would typically operate as part of multinational forces based on broad international consensus. Our defense budget would go principally toward dealing with 21st century threats, including deterring nuclear proliferation, securing existing nuclear sites, securing our borders and expanded intelligence gathering operations.
Economy. Future growth must be environmentally sustainable. The key to smart growth is not just to invest in clean technologies, but for the government to get its fiscal house in order too. This means a government that is on a financially sound footing, which does not spend beyond its means and is not afraid to raise taxes to avoid deficit financing.
Education. We need to pay teachers commensurate with the future value we expect from their pupils, which means a pay increase of roughly twice what they currently get. This would make teaching much more competitive resulting in better teachers. Yet, we cannot raise test scores in a vacuum. We must also address the socioeconomic problems that result in so many students doing poorly academically. If a parent cannot provide the nurturing and stable environment needed for a child to succeed in school, courts should have the power to remove children from these homes and place them into social environments that will nurture them personally and academically.
Energy and the Environment. We all have to learn pollute less and consume less energy. We should embrace Al Gore’s challenge to have all our electricity come from non-carbon producing sources by 2020. We should not allow another tract of undeveloped land to be developed until all existing tracts of land that are no longer used are developed first. I would massively increase our public transportation and fund initiatives to build bike trails in our communities.
Ethics. Politicians should adhere to the same ethics laws as federal employees. This would effectively mean public financing of campaigns, because no outside source is allowed to give this civil servant anything worth more than $25 in value.
Faith. Your faith or lack thereof is your own business and not the government’s business, but your faith must be practiced openly and must not harm children. Faiths that raise their children in isolated compounds and make them marry older men while they are not of legal age would not be a protected religion. Public money should never be given, directly or indirectly, to religions or faith based groups.
Family. We must work toward a stable population in this country or future generations will not be able to live in a sustainable world. To achieve this as benignly as possible, we should allow tax exemptions for the first two children in each family only, unless the children are adopted. We should encourage single-family households by doubling tax exemptions for these families. We should end all discrimination against gay and lesbian couples as parents. Parents should be required to take parenting classes before the birth or adoption of their child. Parents should get tax credits for taking continuing parental education courses.
Fiscal. The government should live within its means and only deficit finance for true national emergencies such as unprovoked wars or national catastrophes.
Foreign Policy. The United States needs to stop being an arrogant nation and to project a humble foreign policy instead. We should work quietly with other nations working for the greater world good, not just our own parochial interests. We should become much more invested in and supportive of multinational organizations, and work to reinvigorate the United Nations. I would decrease aid to Israel by ten percent each year until a comprehensive peace has been negotiated with its neighbors.
Healthcare. We need universal health insurance now. There are plenty of successful examples out there among developed countries. Let’s pick one example that looks like it would work best in our culture and implement it, adjusting based on lessons learned as we go.
Iraq. Our troops would be out by the end of 2010 except for military personnel needed to train Iraqi troops and secure our embassy.
Poverty. It is time to narrow rather than widen the gap between the have and have-nots. This means the rich need to pay much more in the way of taxes. In the long term, poverty is addressed by investing in our children’s education and addressing the socioeconomic conditions that cause poverty.
Signing statements. Signing statements would not be allowed. Attempts by the president to execute the law other than faithfully would be impeachable offenses.
Social Security. Mend it, don’t break it. Make it fiscally sound even if it means higher payroll taxes or waiting longer for retirement.
So, it’s clear: don’t vote for me!