Project Vote Smart has a Political Courage Test that they try to get all candidates to answer. Most don’t, but the group tries to determine what their answers would be from their public statements. I’m not one to avoid a question–although I will admit that there are some issues where, if asked, I may answer “I don’t know” until I can gather sufficient data for form an educated opinion–so here are my answers.
Abortion Issues: Do you consider yourself pro-choice or pro-life?
Pro-choice, if you hold a gun to my head, but it’s a more nuanced position than that. See this post for a clarification.
Budget, Spending, and Tax Issues: Do you support the elimination of the federal estate tax?
Yes, but only as part of a complete overhaul of the tax system.
Budget, Spending, and Tax Issues: Do you support using government funds in an effort to stimulate and improve the economy?
Yes. I consider one of the prime responsibilities of government to build the infrastructure needed for a thriving economy. In a down economy construction jobs are often the first lost, since people stop buying new homes. Shifting these workers toward government-funded large construction projects can help lessen economic downturns.
Business and Employment Issues: Do you support privatizing elements of Social Security?
Yes. I think people should be able to allocate a certain percentage (no more than half) of their SSI contributions toward low-risk private investments in American companies, probably in a mutual-fund-type format.
Crime Issues: Do you support capital punishment for certain crimes?
No. While some crimes certainly warrant the forfeiture of the criminal’s life, I don’t trust the government enough to give it that responsibility. However, if a confessed and convicted criminal sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole would rather be executed than spend the rest of his life in prison, I have no problem accommodating that request.
Education Issues: Do you support federal education standards and testing requirements for K-12 students?
Yes. I do believe the current standards and tests are deeply flawed. The test of schools or teachers should not be how their students perform on a test compared to the rest of the country, but how much their teaching improves the knowledge of their students. Schools and teachers should be rated–partially–based on the difference in scores between start-of-term and end-of-term classes. A school where the students score 85% at the start of the term and 90% at the end may not be as good as a school where the students start at 40% and end at 70%. Without setting a baseline the final result is inconclusive.
Environment and Energy Issues: Do you support enacting environmental regulations aimed at reducing the effects of climate change?
Yes. The U.S. should be a leader on this issue, and if we lead, we can profit from the new environmentally-friendly (or -friendlier) technologies we develop.
Gun Issues: Do you support restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns?
No. I do support the right of businesses to prohibit guns, and I support local governments being able to ban guns from certain public areas. Irresponsible use of firearms should be severely punished.
Health Issues: Do you support a publicly-administered health insurance option?
Yes. See here.
Immigration Issues: Do you support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants?
Yes, until an immigration overhaul giving any non-American a chance to enter the country legally is in place. See here.
International Policy Issues: Do you support United States military action in Afghanistan?
Yes, although the answer is more correct if the question is “Did you support…?” I’m not sure the world can afford to spend enough money to convert Afghanistan from a land of warlords to a working democracy in any reasonable time. I don’t like what the Taliban represent, and I may be naïve in saying this, but if we could get a peace treaty where they agree to allow all children to attend school until at least age sixteen, we just might fix their country over the long-term.
Social Issues: Should marriage only be between one man and one woman?
No, but no church should be compelled to perform same-sex marriages. See here.
I’m not a black-or-white person, but when pushed, like this test does, I will give a yes or no answer. I may not like it, but I’ll give it, but I expect you to listen to my explanation as well.
Thanks for your time. Spread the word!