If You Were Running for President

Apr 10

If You Were Running for President

IF YOU WERE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, what would your platform be? None of us seem to be happy with any of the candidates currently vying for the highest office in the land. We’d like to pick and choose from among the various planks of their platforms and stump speeches. One is all for regulating the big banks, but is too hawkish. One wants to build a wall and doesn’t want to let in Syrian refugees, which is pretty xenophobic, but we like his ideas about keeping our fingers out of everyone’s political pies. So, this morning, over hot coffee and oatmeal, I did a little Presidential day dreaming. Who would my ideal candidate be? What would they say?

First of all, I wouldn’t care if they were male, female, Republican, Democrat, black, white, Latino, or as my mom would say “pink and purple polka dot”. I just want them to have integrity. And I take that back about the political party affiliation. I doubt that any candidate that comes up through the ranks in one of the major  parties would be free enough from party politics to tackle the issues that are gumming up the current system. Before you read my list, create your own. I’ll bet most Americans, liberal or conservative, when it comes right down to it, want many of the same things. We all agree we need to clean house – and we don’t just mean the White House. The Legislature is even worse.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM This has to be first. Get the money and corruption out of the system. Every person pays some small, mandatory fee ($5.00) each year along with their taxes. Every candidate gets equal time on national TV. Every candidate gets a website. Debates are actual discussions of policies vs character-attacking slug fests.

My ideal candidate would have a clear mission statement that would say something to this effect:

As President I will work to create a peaceful, prosperous, safe, healthy America, without harming other nations or the planet. 

Simple.

Then I’d list a few specifics:

SIMPLIFY THE TAX CODE I’m fine with a flat tax, close ALL loopholes and everyone pays their fair share – a straight percentage. You’d have to ease it in so people wouldn’t lose their homes and small businesses wouldn’t go under, but this could be done tomorrow if anyone really wanted to.

STREAMLINE THE MILITARY Since there will always be bullies on the block, you need a strong military; but we don’t need to be all over the globe, trying to control everything. It’s not possible anyway, as we’ve seen time and again. The military should be focused on defense. A side benefit of not meddling in everyone else’s business is that we may not need as much military because we’ll stop pissing people off.

BASIC HUMAN HEALTH, HOUSING, & FOOD The problem with all of our current systems that purport to help Americans is that they don’t actually help.  When someone is sick, out of a job or injured, they should receive the maximum help for the shortest amount of time. Currently, it’s just the opposite. I’d focus on prevention, not sweeping up after the fact, or keeping someone dependent for years, but not helping them become independent. Every American deserves to have their basic needs met. Then, if they want more than that, they are free to invent, innovate, work hard and live the American dream.

EDUCATION Every American child deserves an excellent education. In order to do that, we’re going to have to revamp the way education is funded in America. Every school should be funded equally – not based on local taxes. Every classroom should be designed for optimal learning and equally equipped. Every teacher should be of excellent caliber – a person who wants to be a teacher.  Finland put its children first by deciding to pay its teachers a higher salary than its engineers, and that kind of investment takes political will. We are currently too worried about protecting states rights. We need to stop worrying about looking good, and focus instead on being good. We’re so worried about test scores that each state tries to outdo the others in having the ‘most rigorous’ standards, they make it almost impossible to speak the truth, based on international research, which is that students learn more when they master basic concepts first. But, states won’t lessen the number of standards taught in K-3, for fear of lowering their academic expectations for students.

THE JUSTICE SYSTEM We would have one. Currently, we don’t. Putting kids away for years for minor drug offenses, jails for profit, caring more about looking ‘tough on crime’ vs actually doing those things that would prevent crime and be tough on actual criminals – these are the issues I’d tackle.

IMMIGRATION Who is an American? Who do we let in? Who do we keep out? That question has been answered in many different ways – most of which were unfair to someone. We are a very new country, and our immigration history is messy. My Irish ancestor’s arrival on Ellis Island and some of my students who were born here, but whose parents are undocumented. As of now, both are citizens. Who’s to say who should be a citizen or can become one? Well…we have to. At some point, we need to make some firm decisions and decide what is beneficial to our nation, while not harming others, and then apply the policy promptly and fairly. In general, I think that if we stick to our democratic principles, we will let more people in legally, with shorter wait times, after thorough vetting to protect health and safety, and simultaneously reduce incentives for illegal immigration.

GOD, RELIGION, ABORTION, RACE, GAY MARRIAGE and all other sticky topics… We have a separation of church and state for good reason. People should all be allowed to worship freely as long as they do not harm others. Every American is entitled to holding a strong opinion – whether that opinion is based on religious beliefs, education, or life experience doesn’t matter. That’s what makes us Americans. What doesn’t make us American is to try to push our religious beliefs on others or do harm to someone else because of their religious beliefs, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or color of their skin.

Maybe someday I’ll hear a Presidential candidate say these things…

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