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I wrote this, and posted it here, in June of 2012.  As I now ponder how I will continue to be involved - if at all - in the political processes, including my participation here, it seems appropriate to offer it again.  And as I say at the end, do with it what you will

I have been active in politics since i was an adolescent, a period now of more than 5 decades.

I have often been willing to support politicians with whom I had some strong disagreements on the issues, perhaps because I believed they were as good as we were likely to get.

As I get older, the world seems to go by far more quickly.  And while I do not have biological children, I think of the future in terms of the several thousands who passed through my care before i retired from teaching at the end of this school year.

Because I think of them, because I am concerned about the world and nation we will be leaving them, I have come to find myself at the point where I am far less inclined to support in any fashion those unwilling to think honestly about the rights and needs of all of our people.

So below the fold, I will offer what is for now a tentative list of items that are not negotiable for me.  

At a minimum it means I will not offer financial support.  It may well mean that I cannot bring myself to write/advocate on behalf of someone's candidacy, and/or cast a vote for that person.

This is still a work in progress, which I admit.

But there are times where we must make clear our values, and be prepared to take a stand on their behalf.

Full rights for all on an inclusive basis it the underlying principle for all of the following items that should not be negotiable

- no one should ever be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age unless the government can show a truly compelling state interest

- full marriage equality, recognized not merely state by state, but at a national level, recognizing that marriage should be considered a fundamental right of all persons

- a return to the original constitutional understanding that a "person" was a living, breathing human being, and nothing else

- that when Constitutional Amendments say "person" that prohibits the government from making distinctions among humans on the basis of alleged terrorist activities or immigration status

- that because the air we breath and the water we drink are a common inheritance to which not only we but the rest of the natural world are entitled, companies and individuals shall be held to account for the damage done to these, by taxes, fines, criminal punishments

- that since all benefit from public facilities such as schools, roads, the military, all shall pay according to the benefit they have received, which shall be best judged by the income and wealth they have accumulated

- that we shall cease and desist from privatizing the commons, be it schools, the social safety net, or anything else, and shall attempt to reverse such privatization as has occurred - this includes prisons, public schools, public libraries,

- that all are entitled to a life not threatened by lack of access to affordable health care, including reproductive services, mental health, and dental and vision care.  We in the United States are far from a leader in caring for our people, and this needs to be changed immediately

- that the amount of money one has should not give one a bigger voice in governing the nation, which means we must find a way of restricting the damage money currently does to our political processes

- that Dwight Eisenhower was right when he warned us about the military-industrial-congressional complex (that was his original formulation), and that we need to stop the wasteful spending on wars of choice, on interventions that have little to do with either stopping imminent or ongoing slaughters

- that we recognize that unrestricted accumulation of wealth into private hands is contrary to the ideals of a democratic republic as laid out by our founding documents -  it is time to have both a healthy graduated income tax and a healthy inheritance tax, one that does not allow loopholes such as generation-skipping trusts

- that someone believes in their religion does not give them the right to impose their religious values upon the rest of us - if you cannot make an argument other than on the basis of your religious beliefs, you do not have a valid argument

- all workers should have the right to freely organize together and collectively bargain - it may be the only way to provide a counterbalance to the accumulation of wealth and power

- that when productivity goes up, workers are entitled to share in the revenues thereby generated

- all person should be entitled to a secure future after they can no longer work.  That means either expanding Social Security and including all and making it universal (some are now excluded) or moving to restore defined benefit pensions in the private sector

- that it is past time we join most of the rest of the civilized world and ban capital punishment

This list is incomplete.  The items on it remain more than a little inchoate.  My thinking is far from being finished.

I only know this - that if I am not willing to stand myself on matters of principle, I can hardly expect our politicians to act as I might want.

This is my list

This is my thinking.

Do with it what you will.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great list! (8+ / 0-)

    Maybe we could put something in that says stop running covert ops and drones. Don't be international thugs. Work with other nations, don't clobber them over the head.

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 05:20:44 AM PST

  •  some comments on generation skipping trusts. (7+ / 0-)

    the problem, i think, is less GST trusts than it is the perpetual nature of some of those trusts.  so, say my grandson wants to start a business or buy a home, and I gift him $50,000 to get a good start.  do we want to levy a tax on that?  most people would probably say no.  the mechanism by which we prevent tax is to provide everyone a certain amount of exemption against GST tax (that amount is equal to the unified credit against estate/gift tax).  so, if you can exempt transfers to an individual, you can exempt a transfer to a trust for the benefit of that individual.

    so far, so good.

    it used to be that there was a limit to the duration of those trusts: each state had a "rule against perpetuities" that forced a trust to terminate at some point and pay over to the beneficiaries, where it would be added to the base for the estate tax.  state law, then, really backstopped the federal estate tax system by ensuring assets would get pulled back into the asset base at some point.

    as states jockied for trust business, they started eliminating their rules against perpetuities, which cleared the way for perpetual trusts: assets can now escape the estate tax forever! to his credit, Obama has proposed reimposing a rule against perpetuities at the level of the federal tax code such that assets would be subjected to the GST tax once that federal tax perpetuities period has run.  very good proposal and, of course, unlikely to be enacted while the GOP controls the house and has >40 senators.

    •  It strikes me as appropriate to repeat a (9+ / 0-)

      comment I left on another thread.

      U.S. currency is an invention of and is disseminated by the federal agents of government. Therefor, it is entirely appropriate and to be expected that the agents of government should make rules about how and when the currency is used, by whom and under what conditions it is to be returned to its source (via taxation) to be counted and disseminated anew. In other words, the function of taxes is to keep the currency moving.
      That our currency is being used by the Congress as an instrument of social control is an example of how any tool can be abused. The fault lies not in the tool, nor the victim, but in the abuser.
      That our representatives are serial abusers is a matter which calls for corrective action. That the potential for this happening existed from the start, no doubt accounts for the scheduling of frequent elections. Two years is typically how long it takes to judge whether or not an employee will work out.
  •  Excellent list... (8+ / 0-)

    ...and a depressing one.

    The Greatest Nation Ever on the Earth™ still hasn't solved any of this?  How do we define this word "great" again?

    •  I am less concerned by national comparisons (11+ / 0-)

      I think we obsess too much about where we stand with respect to others, as a nation, as parts of nations - schools, colleges, athletic teams

      I certainly do not object to competitions in some arenas that are legitimate

      for now, however, my focus is on things I consider far more basic.  This list was a somewhat incoherent attempt to lay out some  basis for how I would operate within the political arena.  

      It is mine.

      I found it still spoke to me.

      Insofar as I participate it serves if not as a manifesto as a set of clear principles for me.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 05:40:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's a pretty good list. (13+ / 0-)

    This one:

    - a return to the original constitutional understanding that a "person" was a living, breathing human being, and nothing else.
    Which refers to, of course, Citizens United. The President still has time to change the Supreme Court makeup to strike down this odorous ruling.
  •  I wrote a shorter list (5+ / 0-)

    in a comment yesterday, as I was trying to think of what "we" (the Democratic Party) stand for (or should stand for). Sometimes we get too much into the "we're not as bad as the republicans", which just serves to suppress turnout. Who wants to vote for the best of two evils?

    Anyways, here's my condensed list, which I have added to a little.


    1) Equal access to franchise.
    Everyone gets to vote, and everyone's vote counts equally. (Corporations don't get to vote.)

    2) Equality for all. In all. Race, gender, sexual preference. And that includes a woman's right to control her own body and the right to meaningful collective bargaining.

    3) Evidence- and Reality-based social, economic, and environmental policies that try, as much as possible, to leave no person behind, and to leave our country and our planet to our children in better shape than when we found it.

    4) Transparency in government.
    More democracy is better democracy.

    I think that everything else that we want to do will flow naturally from these three bedrock principles. I'm willing to work with just about anyone - Democrat or Republican - who agrees.

  •  Decades ago - I was less than 1/2 my current age (6+ / 0-)

    One of the wisest people I ever met in Chicago was Ruth Shriman. At the time Ruth was over 80 years old and still an activist. Her words of wisdom:


    If, on your 70th birthday, your friends and family don't think you have become a liberal, you are brain dead.

    Those who fought the war in Afghanistan won it. Get them out of Afghanistan NOW . . . It's long past time. The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

    by llbear on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 07:41:34 AM PST

  •  A very thoughtful list that pretty much gets to (4+ / 0-)

    core of what it means to be a liberal today.

    Thanks very much for sharing this with us.

  •  Your list is much expanded from what I posted (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    in another diary yesterday.  Someone actually thought that we didn't have expressed core values.  I said something to the effect of:

    Support for the safety net such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, welfare,  and unemployment.  Support for unions, civil rights and reproductive choice are all core values, whereby if someone didn't espouse those values I would have a hard time calling them a Democrat.

    That said, I agree with your list.

    "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

    by Sychotic1 on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 07:57:53 AM PST

  •  Thanks, again, Ken! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, elwior, Bisbonian

    I always look for your posts because you say what I think in a very clear straight forward way.

    Today's list is an important statement of what we should all expect, at a minimum, from our elected representatives. Unfortunately, due to the realities of politics, we seldom find it in our best.

    My wife, daughter and granddaughters should have more privacy in their doctor's office than I have buying another rifle or shotgun.

    by NM Ray on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 08:17:14 AM PST

  •  Thanks, Ken (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, elwior, Bisbonian

    This is a good, thoughtful list. I agree with every point. I know we all have to periodically evaluate the level of involvement we can give to any cause. I hope that, whatever the future holds for you and Leaves, that you know that your posts will always be welcome here. You are a kind and gentle soul, and your presence here makes dKos a better place.

    Namaste

    Zen is "infinite respect for all things past; infinite service to all things present; infinite responsibility for all things future."--Huston Smith's Zen Master

    by Ree Zen on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 08:41:49 AM PST

    •  I, too, agree with every point. (0+ / 0-)

      I might have worded them differently, or changed emphasis, but that's just nuance.  It's a very good list. I would feel better if you stuck around.

      "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." --Townes Van Zandt

      by Bisbonian on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 11:25:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Ken, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, elwior

    You have brought another teaching lesson to DKos...

    Thanks again.

    "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

    by doingbusinessas on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 08:59:45 AM PST

  •  Elections are choices. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    In a primary context I hope you will find a candidate who shares these values.  In the general election I hope you will at least vote for the person who comes closest, even if you are not enthusiastic about it.  Remember, ultimately the people have more to lose than the candidates.  Most candidates for significant offices are well enough off that if they lose all they will suffer is a bruised ego.  The people, on the other hand, may suffer greatly in very practical terms if the wrong person is elected.

  •  This is the diary that other whining (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Mr Robert

    "echo chamber" diary could have been, if only the point of that diary had been to outline principles instead of having a snit.

    Non futuis apud Boston

    by kenlac on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 09:50:08 AM PST

  •   spending on the environm,ent should be mandatory (0+ / 0-)

    and at the level of what we spend in foreign aid, if not higher. since we spend about 65 billion a year on foreign aid, thn we should be spending 65-70 billion a year on conservation. making it mandatory means congress cant cut it, and doesn't get a say in it. as of right now we spend less than 20 billion on the 4 conservation minded agencies in government, and that's not enugh. i agree with most of the list. ss should have its cap be att 200K right now and monthly benefits should increase
     the estate tax should be graduated, the more possessions the higher the rate, so that the walton family cant pass down 110 billion to their heirs unmolested. 75% for anything over 10 billion.

  •  "...a 'person' was a living, breathing human being (0+ / 0-)

    and nothing else...when Constitutional Amendments say "person" that prohibits the government from making distinctions among humans on the basis of alleged terrorist activities or immigration status."

    Do ANY of our elected officials stand for this?  Maybe Bernie Sanders, but I can't think of another.

    "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." --Townes Van Zandt

    by Bisbonian on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 11:29:03 AM PST

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