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Confront Global Threats
As I see it, the Democratic platform addresses half of the problem. Yes, we need to assemble and maintain an international coalition to defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups. Yes, it would be nice to end the Syrian Civil War in a manner that gets Assad out of power. Yes, we need to work with the international community to help the refugees in and around Syria.
The last of these is particularly important. We need to show those who currently hate the U.S. and Western culture that we aren’t the bad guys. We shouldn’t be known primarily as the ones dropping bombs and guiding drones. We should be known as the ones opening hospitals and schools, as helping farmers and small businesses, and as the ones making them feel safe.
The big picture is that too many people in the world feel hopeless. Hopeless people don’t see a problem with blowing themselves up, because they don’t think they have any reason to live. So, we should invest in schools, making especially sure that girls are getting educated. Make sure teenage girls have pads so they don’t miss several days of school every month. If girls are educated, they have fewer children, if for no other reason than they know where babies come from. Fewer children means more opportunity and resources for the children that are born. And, most importantly, hope. This isn’t a problem that can be fixed overnight, but it could be fixed in one generation.
Iran, North Korea, and Russia
Decent sections, but essentially all they really say is “stay the course.” The position on Iran is to strengthen “our Gulf partners,” which I fear only exacerbates the Sunni-Shi’a conflict. The platform complains about human rights in Iran while ignoring the horrible human rights record of Saudi Arabia. It complains about Iran contributing to terrorist organizations while ignoring Saudi Arabia doing the same. Unfortunately, the Saudis are instrumental in our anti-Russia strategy: By keeping the supply of oil high, we have severely injured Putin’s economy. So, it’s complex, as usual.
Democrats will protect our industry, infrastructure, and government from cyberattacks. We will strengthen our cybersecurity, seek to establish global norms in cyberspace, and impose consequences on those who violate the rules. We will do all this while protecting the privacy and civil liberties of the American people.
No, you won’t. Until the Democratic Party realizes that privacy and encryption are two sides of the same coin, they cannot be trusted to defend the online “privacy and civil liberties of the American people.” Effective encryption is one of the best ways to protect from cyberattacks, and the recently defeated Feinstein-Burr bill would have crippled encryption, making U.S. industry and the government more vulnerable to attack.
Elect some people who know technology. Hire some people who know technology. Don’t have technophobic senior citizens draft technology legislation.
The U.S. has made no progress toward nuclear disarmament since the 2010 New START, but relations with Putin would have made any progress difficult at best. The world is under 4,000 deployed warheads, and is on a downward track. It looks like proliferation is under control, with the exception of North Korea, as most countries with nuclear weapons, besides the U.S., Russia, United Kingdom, and France, do not have deployed nuclear weapons. It would take a while to activate and use those warheads.
I think we are getting to the point where the majority–90%+–of nuclear weapons could be secured to make them unusable without advance notice. For example, we could create a locking system that operates on a seven-day timer, where when the lock is started to be opened, the United Nations is notified. This, at least, would give countries a chance to come down from the brink prior to launch. I would suggest that a small number of warheads would remain unlocked as a deterrent to the one nuclear rogue state (North Korea), but if the North Koreans come into compliance, even that might not be needed.
I haven’t had coursework in nuclear proliferation in twenty-five years, so I am rusty on the subject.
Protect Our Values
By values, they mean inclusion and tolerance, which makes sense, to a point. I’m a fan of reciprocity: If you’re intolerant, I’m not terribly interested in tolerating your intolerance. If you or your group doesn’t believe that others should have the same rights and privileges that you have, I’m not terribly interested in protecting your advantage. My primary value is fairness. Without fairness, inclusion and tolerance don’t mean very much.
Women and Girls
As I said above, education is key here. I get why the platform puts such great importance on safe abortion for women abroad, as the restrictions currently in place are heavy-handed, but I’m not sure this is where I choose to fight my battles this election cycle.
Trafficking and Modern Slavery
There isn’t anything controversial here. I can’t see the Republicans thinking much differently.
I am cynical enough to believe this is self-serving, as younger people are generally more progressive. Having said that, this agrees with what I said above about the importance of education.
The difference between the Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans are mostly interested in protecting Christian religious minorities, and are fairly heartless toward Muslims.
If your neighbors are in trouble, you help them. Republican policy toward Syrian refugees has been “Help yourselves–not our problem”…or worse. The Democrats are right on this one.
Democrats support progress towards more accountable governance and universal rights.
No argument there.
I like what they say, but I don’t trust them to back up words with actions. Too many Wall Street people love their offshore tax havens for me to believe that the Democratic Party will make reasonable progress toward shutting them down.
Prove me wrong. Please.
The platform is unequivocal in its opposition to torture, and I agree. When I researched this issue years ago, I managed to find one case where torture actually worked: A carjacker stole a car with a baby in the back and abandoned the car in the summer sun. The carjacker was caught shortly thereafter and the police beat him until he told them where the car was, allowing them to save the baby. Having said that, most information acquired via torture is unreliable, so it should never be an official government policy. Even in the case I found, the police were willing to pay the price for torturing the carjacker, because it was worth it to save the baby (as it turned out, the carjacker took a plea bargain to avoid the kidnapping charge, so the police weren’t charged).
Closing Guantánamo Bay
Imprisoning people without charges for over a decade is wrong. Period. There is no declared war, and we have pulled most troops out of Afghanistan. If they are still a threat, charge them and move them to American prisons. If not, release them and let them go home.
Yes! Americans routinely overestimate how much of the budget is spent on foreign aid: Most people think it is 25%, as opposed to the actual 1% of the budget. Money spent on foreign aid makes people like us, and, in most cases, it really doesn’t cost us anything, as there is a solid return on investment. For non-military aid, every dollar spent in aid results in seven dollars of economic activity in the U.S. economy. If this is taxed at the lowest standard rate of 15%, we break even.
Democrats are right on this one as well. We need to make sure American companies aren’t exploiting lax foreign labor and environmental regulations to increase profits.
Tomorrow, I will cover the last section, “A Leader in the World,” as international relations is one of my strongest subjects.
Last night, I went to the Chattanooga FC match where they won the conference championship. The best thing about the night is that I let my daughter go where she wanted in the stadium, under my standard directive “Go talk to strangers!” People are good. She made new friends, and we had a great time. Get out of your bubbles and meet new people–especially those who are different from your current friends. Make the world a better place, one friend at a time.