My campaign thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=422344
A statement by Elendil’s Heir, a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States.
Education in this country has always been, and should remain, largely a local issue. However, the U.S. Department of Education has an important role to play in encouraging and supporting educational excellence, and that will continue. I have long been concerned about rising higher-education tuition costs. Colleges and universities obviously cannot, and will not, price themselves out of existence. Sooner or later the bubble of soaring tuition will burst for all but the very most selective schools. I don’t have any particular plan for financial aid, but would support increases in it, consistent with our need to reduce the current monstrous Federal budget deficit.
We must maintain our leading international role in the sciences, across all disciplines. The politicization of science, so baldly and unapologetically practiced by the Bush Administration, must stop. I will have a White House science advisor recognized as an expert in his or her field, who will provide me with candid, impartial, pragmatic advice on science issues as they arise. My priority in appointments to the many Federal science advisory boards and committees will be based purely on merit. I strongly support stem-cell research, which has tremendous promise to revolutionize modern medicine.
As a little boy, I was inspired by America’s bold ventures into space. John F. Kennedy rallied a nation to go to the Moon, not because it was easy, but because it was hard, and now we crave new challenges. I strongly support a mix of both manned and unmanned space exploration. Humanity’s destiny will someday lie in space; we should rebuild a vigorous, risk-taking but safety-conscious NASA. Every dollar spent on space exploration has tremendous spinoff and ancillary benefits for this country. I would also increase funding for efforts to locate and track near-Earth objects which potentially pose a catastrophic risk to life on our planet.
Gay Rights and Gay Marriage
Gay people are, and should be, valued members of American society. My personal belief is that we are all God’s children, and that we should care for each other and celebrate the contributions that each of us can make to our great republic.
I oppose the U.S. military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, unwisely codified into law. It has been an appalling failure, and has caused grave injustices to patriotic gay Americans who want to serve their country. We are now forcing valuable men and women out of the U.S. armed forces under the policy, including, for instance, Arabic translators whose services are desperately needed post-9-11. I agree with Vice President Dick Cheney, who while Secretary of Defense called the exclusion of gays “an old chestnut,” as I agree with former Reagan Pentagon official Lawrence Korb, who suggested that there is no rational military basis for it. It is long overdue for repeal. I am struck that virtually all of the arguments that have been made against permitting gays to openly serve were also raised against President Truman’s courageous decision to desegregate the military. Harry Truman did the right thing, and so should we.
I personally support gay marriage. I have gay friends who love each other just as much their straight neighbors, who want to raise families and have all of the benefits of marriage that the rest of us take for granted. Marriage in this country is far more endangered by domestic violence, lack of commitment, adultery and substance abuse than by gay marriage. If I were a state legislator, I would vote in favor of gay marriage here in Ohio. However, marriage has historically been a state matter, and I agree with Sen. John McCain that the Federal government ought to keep its nose out of it. If a bill to repeal DOMA reached my Oval Office desk, I would sign it, but I also recognize that is extremely unlikely, even with aggressive presidential leadership. We are not yet there, as a nation.
I will enforce all civil rights laws now on the books to the utmost. I support the recent line of Supreme Court cases permitting affirmative action, but not outright quotas, in providing broader opportunities for all people to fully participate in civil society. I favor adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes along with national origin, religion, race, and so on.
Abortion and Judicial Appointments
I am strongly pro-choice. I agree with former President Bill Clinton that abortion in the U.S. should be “legal, safe and rare.” I personally oppose the Federal so-called “partial-birth abortion” law, recently and unwisely upheld by the Supreme Court, because it contains no exception for the health and safety of mothers. Repugnant though the procedure is, it is sometimes medically necessary, and the law should reflect that.
George Washington said, “The administration of justice is the surest pillar of government,” and he was right. My appointments to the district and appellate courts need not necessarily be pro-choice, so long as I am convinced that they would be true to their oaths and follow the law. However, as I believe Roe v. Wade now hangs in the balance, my appointments to the Supreme Court, if any, would assuredly be pro-choice.
Ethics and Campaign Reform
The government of the United States belongs to the people of the United States. Public service, Grover Cleveland wisely noted, is a public trust. I will do my utmost to ensure that everyone who serves in my Administration takes that to heart, and I will have zero tolerance for self-dealing, corruption or unethical behavior.
I supported the McCain-Feingold Act at the time, but more and more I doubt its efficacy. Money is, as they say, the mother’s milk of politics. In a country as big as this, with campaigning as expensive as it is, money will find its way into the process no matter what. I would urge Congress to consider removing all limits on campaign funding, but to also require instantaneous and complete Internet reporting of all contributions, with stiff penalties - including large fines and, for the most egregious cases, prison - for violations. The Federal Election Commission needs to be reformed; too often it now issues its decisions years after an election and imposes fines which are little more than a bad joke.
Homeland Security, The Patriot Act, and Domestic Spying
My first duty as President, consistent with the oath written by the Framers, is to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” My second duty is to protect the lives and property of all Americans from our enemies. Domestic wiretapping and other surveillance should only be carried out with court authorization, as required by the Fourth Amendment and its later interpretations. Anything less sets an extremely dangerous precedent and would ultimately endanger liberty. This is one area in which I’m particularly critical of the Bush Administration.
Any invasion of privacy or strengthening of police powers needs to be carefully scrutinized. Is it constitutional? Advisable? Will it really make us safer? Do the benefits really outweigh the costs? More often than not, since 9-11, the answer has been “no.” We should remember the sage advice often attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up liberty for a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.” The Patriot Act will need major revisions.
I am strongly opposed to secret detentions, and even more so to torture. Torture coarsens those members of our military and intelligence services who practice it, and violates international treaties to which the U.S. is a party - and which are, as constitutionally defined, the “supreme law of the land.” It corrodes the rule of law and exposes us as hypocrites, badly undercutting the basis of our real and deadly serious struggle against international terrorism. I agree with Sen. McCain, who has had some grim personal experience in the field, that torture is a moral and legal wrong which stains our nation’s honor. In fighting our enemies, we must take care not to become them.
We are a nation of immigrants, and every day they make invaluable contributions to the United States, but we are also a nation under the rule of law. The current situation is untenable. We cannot be secure, as a nation, if our borders are not secure. Legal immigration should be encouraged; illegal immigration must be stopped or severely curtailed. I favored the immigration bill which died in Congress last year; for all its faults, it offered a way forward from the current crisis in immigration.