The Second Amendment: Our Right to Keep and Bear Arms
This section could have been written by the National Rifle Association, because there is nothing here that shows any willingness to improve gun safety or even to improve existing legislation. Everything here is about expanding gun rights–some of which I do agree with–but nothing to prevent gun violence.
The Fourth Amendment: Liberty and Privacy
I agree with the GOP’s position to limit the use of drones on U.S. soil, and in limiting the use of tracking devices in motor vehicles. I do think that we need to be careful with the latter, as having vehicle transponders–even if anonymous–might be beneficial to safety as we move toward driverless vehicles.
The GOP’s position on encryption is troubling, as it shows a lack of comprehension on the technology. The problem is that making encryption accessible to the government when a warrant is issued inherently weakens the encryption.
I agree with the GOP’s opposition to the warrantless searches of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), but I am cynical of their motives, as there’s no move to resolve the problem of individuals and corporations dodging taxes by keeping funds outside the U.S.
The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Human Life
Like the Second Amendment section, this section could have been written by an interest group, in this case the National Right to Life Committee. I covered this ad nauseum here and here. Short version: The GOP is extreme on the right, the Democrats are extreme on the left.
The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Private Property
The GOP is against the abuse of eminent domain for private development projects, against the abuse of civil asset forfeiture, and against the seizure of environmentally sensitive property without adequate compensation. I agree wholeheartedly with all of those positions. Now, where do they stand on the seizure of private property from Indians?
The Fifth Amendment: Intellectual Property Rights
The GOP is great at protecting intellectual property rights–but they don’t say anything about getting intellectual property released to the public domain after a reasonable period. The original terms of copyrights were fourteen years, renewable once, but now we are up to life plus seventy years. This is ludicrous, and needs to be fixed. Lawrence Lessig wrote an article on “Re-crafting a Public Domain” which I think every Member of Congress should read.
The Ninth Amendment: The People’s Retained Rights
The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution declares that “[t]he enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” This provision codifies the principle that our national government derives its power from the governed and that all powers not delegated to the government are retained by the people. We call upon legislators to give full force to this fundamental principle. We welcome to our ranks all citizens who are determined to reclaim the rights of the people that have been ignored or usurped by the federal and intrusive state governments.
So, which rights do you mean? The right to privacy, so that people don’t have to worry about the government arresting them for acts that happen in their own bedrooms? The right to equal protection under the law, like the right to marry, even if your partner is the same sex as you? The right to travel freely, regardless of your religion? The right to fair sentencing, regardless of your skin color?
Because I’m hearing the exact opposite of these things from the GOP.
The Tenth Amendment: Federalism as the Foundation of Personal Liberty
I would feel better about this section if the GOP were any better at limiting government than the Democrats, but they just aren’t: They just want government involved in different areas. Yes, the federal government has overstepped its constitutional mandates, but states have repeatedly shown that they are often unwilling or unable to defend the rights of individuals. I would have absolutely no problem with the federal government cutting spending and federal taxes if I had any confidence in some state and local governments actually spending money–and taxing accordingly–to make sure people had adequate education, health care, police protection, and other government services. Unfortunately–I’m looking at you, Kansas–we’ve seen quite clearly that Republican state governments often gut their programs to cut taxes at the expense of the poor.
Honest Elections and the Electoral College
The GOP, for some reason, thinks there is widespread electoral fraud in the U.S., and they think that keeping the Electoral College helps prevent electoral fraud affecting presidential elections. Because of the Electoral College, my vote for president doesn’t matter. Barring an unlikely collapse, Trump will win Tennessee by a huge margin, and because my vote won’t help sway things nationwide, it doesn’t matter who gets my vote. Also, the Electoral College helps maintain the two-party system, because the assumption is that no third-party candidate can get enough votes to get any electoral college delegates. If we restructured things for first-to-the-post or runoffs–in the event no candidate gets 50% on the first ballot–then third parties are viable.
Honest Elections and the Right to Vote
To guard against foreign involvement in our elections, we call for vigilance regarding online credit card contributions to candidates and campaigns.
How about allowing the cases of Trump’s campaign soliciting foreign campaign donations to move forward? I think that would be a good way to “guard against foreign involvement.”
I have no problem with Voter ID laws, provided that they:
- Provide a free government ID option.
- Provide a free way to get the necessary documentation, like birth certificates, for the purpose of obtaining 1.
- Provide assistance in transportation to ID-issuing offices.
The GOP has shown bad faith in wanting people to vote by cutting early voting hours, reducing the number of polling places, and cutting the hours polls are open on election days. If you support the right to vote, make it easier for people to vote, not harder. Personally, I would like to see progress made in secure online voting, but as the GOP is trending older, I am pretty sure that is not a priority for them.
The next section is on “Agriculture, Energy, and the Environment.” I am pretty sure that is in order of importance.