Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dear Elected Officials (A Citizen's Ask)

President Obama, let's pick up where FDR left off ...

As a citizen of the United States of America, I'd like to ask the following of my elected representatives ...

Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a second Bill of Rights in his 1944 State of the Union Address. In time for the 70th anniversary of his proposal, I humbly ask that my Representatives and Senators work towards preparing and passing a Joint Resolution enumerating those six rights: 
  • employment with a living wage, 
  • public education -- including, but not necessarily limited too, an undergraduate degree for those who would seek it, 
  • Social Security, 
  • universal health care, 
  • housing, and 
  • the right of every business to trade fairly without monopolies or unfair competition at home or abroad,
 to be ratified per Article V of the Constitution.

If, as a society, we can afford a decade plus of wars, a nuclear weapons stockpile, and hundreds (!!) of millions of dollars in spending on political campaigns*, then we can certainly afford the costs of the programs proposed. There is no question we are a wealthy enough society to pay for these things. It is simply a matter of priorities. It will take tremendous will, political courage, and a superhuman effort to make this happen. I will do everything in my power as a private citizen to assist, anything my country would ask of me, but only Congress can make it happen -- and they'll need strong direction from the Chief Executive to get this, or anything, done. 

In addition to the economic Bill of Rights proposed by FDR, the following rights should also be enshrined in the Constitution so no state can strip them unjustly from an American citizen:
  • the right of any adult person to marry another adult person provided neither are already married
  • the right of every person to obtain contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy
  • the right of every woman to terminate an unwanted pregnancy based on her own judgment
  • the right of every person to be free from prohibitions against the use of recreational drugs provided they do no harm to others and do not support criminal organizations by their use
Finally, while amending the Constitution (as long as the hood is already up, so to speak) we should modernize, clarify, fix, or outright repeal, the Second Amendment. It is a dangerous, misunderstood antiquity. We must recognize that our Founding Fathers simply did not foresee the developments in technology that would lead to weapons that allow people to kill dozens, hundreds even, of their fellow citizens in a matter minutes, nor did they know we would maintain such a large military force to protect the nation. The idea of armed citizens forming militias to protect the nation from an invasion is laughable, Red Dawn notwithstanding. We can, and should, debate the rights and responsibilities of sportsmen and those who make an informed decision to maintain a firearm for defense of home, but there is no reason for anyone other than an active duty soldier or law enforcement officer to carry, never mind own, an automatic weapon.

* Can any of the things in this post be done before meaningful campaign finance reform is accomplished? Publicly financed elections, candidates able to get exposure based on the merit of their positions instead of their fundraising skills/connections, inclusive debates, an opening of the political system to those outside the plutocratic class: these are necessities for a properly functioning democracy, not mere nice-to-haves. 

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