Taking Positions- Rich On Social Issues


528742_10151168953617536_2082217701_n

Social Issues are not what motivate me in politics. This could be in no small part because i’m a white, straight, upper-middle-class, Catholic, male, and have been my whole life. This could also be because I believe that many of our social-ailments would be cured by a more progressive, more equitable economy. Either way you want to look at it, I’m not a huge fan of debating social issues. Unfortunately, in 2015 America, you have to. You really have to when white-supremacist lunatics shoot up an African-American church in Charleston. So I’m going to take this moment to flesh out my thoughts on many of the major social issues in the country.

Guns

  • You will never round up all the guns and take them away from all Americans. It’s not possible. You will never repeal the Second Amendment either, as it is also not possible. People will own guns in America, regardless of whether or not that is desirable. The goal should be to make them as safe as possible, and regulate how they will exist in our country.
  • I support universal background checks on every sale. Every recipient of a gun should have to undergo a background check. This should apply to gun shows too, even if it is cumbersome. Every gun owner in America should be licensed, even if that is “scary” to some fanatical 2nd Amendment supporters. We make you have a license to drive a car, fish, and even be a financial advisor, the least we could do is make you be licensed to have a gun. Finally, the mentally ill should not have access to guns- including those of their family members. We should increase funding to tackle mental illness in general in America, aside from gun laws.
  • For the most part, i’m not as staunch of a supporter of banning types of guns. I don’t see the need to have “assault rifles” that can’t be used for hunting, however these guns often have special types of licensing requirements to buy or sell, which regulates this already. I am against the sale of hollow-tip, “cop killer” bullets though, as they serve only one, terrible purpose. Limiting the magazine size of guns that civilians can purchase is sort of limited in it’s ability to save lives, as it takes one shot to kill someone, however it can help limit mass shootings as it forces a killer to stop and re-load.
  • Increase penalties for trafficking of illegal guns. Increase penalties for gun owners who do not secure their weapons in their household, allowing children and mentally ill family members to get a hold of the guns and do damage. Make mandatory the reporting of any lost or stolen hand-gun, something that is not currently law in Pennsylvania.
  • For the most part, many of these things already are on the books. Some aren’t enforced, and some aren’t funded. Congress and state legislatures should start by funding and enforcing existing laws. They should then move on to enforcing background checks, limiting access to some weapons, and increasing penalties on those who misuse weapons or make “mistakes.”

Race Issues

  • Remove the Confederate Flag from all government buildings and property in America. The flag is a symbol of rebellion. The flag is a symbol of treason. The flag is a symbol of hate. It is not a symbol of heritage, or at least anything redeemable and decent in that heritage. The Confederacy lost the war, the flag should sit in museums as a relic.
  • Affirmative Action is still very necessary in today’s society. There is still not equality of opportunity in all places, between all races, meaning not all children and applicants are receiving an equal chance to realize their dreams. That can only be fixed through affirmative action programs.
  • “Reverse racism” does not exist. Pointing out the barriers to success for other races, and then working to fix them, does not harm the “white majority” in this country. “White privilege” does exist, and we can see it in the way our criminal justice system treats white people differently than others, both in outcomes and in process.
  • The Civil Rights Act should apply to private businesses, as well as the government. Going into the public market, you should not be able to use your bigotry to deny services to people. The Civil Rights Act should be applied as expansively as reasonably possible.
  • The Voting Rights Act must be re-strengthened after the Supreme Court damaged it. Areas with deep histories of denying rights to minority voters should be subject to pre-clearance when changing any rules regarding voting.

Policing Issues

  • The #BlackLivesMatter movement has made several issues very clear for me, and millions of other Americans. I grew up in a law enforcement household, and I support police for their hard work and dedication to the communities they serve in. With that said, justice is not being equally distributed in America, and there must be changes.
  • All police should have body cameras- it’s good for them and the public. It protects them from bogus accusations, which happen a lot, but it also protects the rights of those who are abused by the justice system. Local prosecuting authorities should not oversee investigations of police within their jurisdiction, as inherent bias exists. Finally, cases like this should not go to grand juries, which simply re-affirm a prosecutor’s thoughts on the case, and let them off the hook for their judgment.
  • End “Stop-and-Frisk” and all other racial profiling programs. They are inherently unfair, and assume guilt for some groups over others. I understand that sometimes these programs are driven by statistics, but they are practically applied by race. If you treat a race unfairly, you cannot be shocked when it mistrusts those charged with protecting it.
  • Diversity in police forces, the court system, and across the law enforcement spectrum is crucial. It builds trust and moves us forward.
  • End the “War on Drugs” and stop wasting our time and money. You cannot fight a war on drugs, nor can you force people to behave by prohibition. The “War on Drugs” has simply incarcerated millions in our poorest of neighborhoods and given them permanent records. Legalization of marijuana in Colorado and others have not lead to the sky falling at all, but rather a regulated, safer business model has emerged. Legalization kills drug cartels and increases revenues to the local and state governments. Sure, heroine and crack, and other highly dangerous drugs, should remain illegal, but we have to get real about spending millions of dollars at a time trying to stop drug use. It doesn’t work.
  • We have to reel-in our permanent labeling of felons and convicts in America. America should follow New York City’s lead and “ban-the-box.” Employers simply shouldn’t be able to discriminate against people who have paid their debt to society. Felons who have done their time should have their voting rights back, and should not be denied the ability to find work, as that only leads to them being forced to return to crime.
  • Don’t militarize small-town police departments. We do not need another Ferguson.
  • Hate crime laws are necessary in a society where bigotry is both unacceptable, and still alive-and-well. Attacking someone for their race, religion, gender, sexuality, or any other unique factor about them is unacceptable, and should pay a higher price.

LGBTQ Issues

  • Members of the LGBTQ community are human beings. They deserve full recognition as such, and the full rights of such. There can be no “second class citizenship” for this group within our nation.
  • Marriage Equality should be a reality. It is morally correct to recognize love as love. It is economically correct to grant the same benefits to all couples in our nation. It is constitutionally correct to say that equal protection applies to same-sex couples.
  • Transgender citizens should be treated as the sex that they identify as. If Caitlyn Jenner says she is a woman, she should be treated as a woman, and called by her female name. This may be new and uncomfortable for some people, but again, it’s important to treat all people with respect and dignity, and allow them to be who they are.
  • Workplace discrimination must be stopped. A person coming to work to perform their labor and do their job is not defined by their sexuality, they are defined by their work. Workplace anti-discrimination legislation should move forward.
  • “Religious freedom” laws only should apply to actual religious institutions, performing religious functions, not non-religious institutions or anyone performing non-religious services. In other words, I don’t want to hear about the religious beliefs of your bakery, store, hospital, or other public business. You are offering a good or service to the public, and should be willing to do so for currency to all citizens. Your right to be a bigot is not protected.

Women

  • Women make up the majority of our population, and the majority of our college students today. They should be treated as equal members of our society.
  • Equal pay for equal work. If a woman is carrying out the same job as a man, she should make the same pay. This should be universal across the private and public sectors.
  • A woman’s birth control should be covered under all health insurance plans. It is necessary for many women to take birth control. A woman’s reproductive health is integral to her well-being, and should be treated as such.
  • A woman should make the choice of whether or not she has a child. We can have our opinions on those choices, but the choice should belong to her. It’s her body and her life, and she is a citizen of our country. She is the one person who’s entire life will be changed by the decision, and she should be able to make that free of interference by the state or private citizens. No mandatory waiting periods should apply. No woman should be forced to watch an ultra-sound. She should not be regulated by men in state capitols who think they know best. While I agree with legal precedent on third-trimester pregnancies, even in late terms, the health of a mother should come first. I have no problem with someone believing in a pro-life stance, and living that stance out. They should not try to force others to comply though.
  • Integrating more women into more jobs is important for society as a whole. Saying women “can’t do this job” is not only insulting, it also limits fields from a perspective of half of our society.

Religion

  • I am not an atheist, and I believe all should be able to worship as they choose. I also recognize that we are not an officially religious nation, and we are definitely not a “Christian” nation.
  • Religion should not guide public policy. It can guide values, it can guide the way you live your life. It should not be forced on other people though.
  • Religious institutions should be protected to live by their own values in religious functions. A church should not be forced to marry someone, or do anything else that violates it’s beliefs.

With all of these said, I think it’s important to say a few other things. First, I think it’s important to remember in general that all people are people, and have rights, lives, and feelings all their own. Second, when we get into blaming people for the actions of others in their groups, we often times lose their ear on the issue at hand, and lose any chance to make them supportive of the positions we hold. Third, it’s important that in supporting the rights of a group, we don’t seek to invalidate the opinions and beliefs of other groups. If we follow these simple rules, a discussion of our beliefs and desired outcomes can yield progress.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: