Political Convictions, by Christopher Pope (Half the Battle)
This is a statement of my selected beliefs and perspectives about politics in general, and particularly in the present-day United States.
Table of Contents
- I. Government and Culture
- A. Governmental Philosophy
- B. The American System
- C. Electoral Issues
- II. Foreign Policy
- A. Peaceful Cooperation
- B. National Security and Defense
- III. Domestic Policy
- A. Rights and Civil Protection
- B. Human Flourishing
- C. Health and Welfare
I. GOVERNMENT AND CULTURE
I.0. SUMMARY STATEMENT
I believe governments exist to provide some measure of justice in this world and to secure the liberty of their people, and that governments should carry out these duties according to principles of wisdom and righteousness. While on a traditional left-right spectrum I land a fair bit right of center on average, I seek to understand political issues within a biblical framework that transcends the progressive, libertarian, and conservative approaches that dominate public discourse.
I.A.1. Government as an Institution
- The Foundation of Government
- The institution of government is established by God, meaning the Father of Jesus Christ whose will is expressed in the Bible. Ruling authorities are appointed by God, are accountable to God, and must obey God in all things. This does not conflate the government with the church, or place the government under the church, since these institutions have separate roles and authority over different areas of life. While government should serve the common good of society and glorify God, it is neither right nor wise for it to constrain its people's liberty or attempt to coerce the reordering of society for the sake of that common good or in supposed service to God's glory.
- The Role of Government
- The government is one of several institutions that are essential to a healthy society, alongside families, churches, businesses, charities, and private associations of common interest. It is also the only institution to which God has delegated the inherent right to employ constraining force against adults in the carrying out of its duties. It uses the power of restraint to compel the good behavior of those who will not restrain themselves. The original and primary purpose of government is to be a human steward of God to provide just retribution and recourse for harm done to people within a society, however that is not its only purpose. The Bible commends actions by governments to keep an orderly society, reward and incentivize good acts and human flourishing, defend from outside threats, cooperate in good causes with other nations, including defending them from attack, and provide humanitarian aid to those in need both among its own people and elsewhere. Government's decisions to those ends should be made with wisdom, compassion, a recognition of humans' sacred dignity and corrupt fallenness, and a humble sense of its place under God and in service to the people.
- Liberty under Government
- Consent of the governed is a biblical concept that became part of the American legacy through Protestant theology generally and congregationalism in particular. Just as people associate in other institutions by common consent, so a government ought to exist among its people by their choice. In short, people have an inherent right to choose their rulers and their form of government, and the government should be held to account by its people for the carrying out of its duties, chiefly the preservation of the people's lives, liberty, and freedom to pursue their own paths to happiness. Further, the Bible's pervasive themes of liberty and equality, and its condemnation of oppression, require that a government must not violate the very rights it exists to protect, and society should be permitted to develop organically rather than being engineered.
- Human Nature and Progress
- Humanity has benefitted greatly through advances in science, medicine, and technology, as well as the propagation of democratic institutions throughout the world in the past couple centuries. Nevertheless, human nature is the same from generation to generation, and there is no permanent progress in our moral sensibilities. In any era, moral reforms in one area of life are often offset by moral degradation in other areas. Even our idea of what a utopia would look like changes from one culture to the next, and from person to person. We must therefore be always reforming and aspiring to virtue, seeking wisdom from other times and places rather than assuming past cultures to be primitive and foolish. This reality also calls for humility among our chief leaders and thinkers, and a reluctance to try to move society forward by force rather than by persuasion and democratic processes.
- Moral Reform
- I firmly support efforts to make a society, and the world at large, a kinder and less unfair place, and to oppose those who seem to devote their energies to making life more difficult. Moral reform in society, especially on issues of controversy, is successful and lasting when it is advanced persistently, positively, and peacefully, with visible compassion, and from the ground up rather than from the top down. I generally favor an incremental approach to issues of controversy until a consensus can be obtained.
I.A.2. Politics and Worldview
- The Political Spectrum
- The concept of a one-dimensional left-right political spectrum does not reflect the breadth of approaches and philosophies in political discourse, or the elusive definitions of "conservative" and "liberal." As I see it, political theory involves three axes: libertarian vs. statist, populist vs. elitist, and individualist vs. collectivist.
- Progressivism and Social Liberalism
- I understand the foundation of socially liberal progressivism to be a worldview that sees political issues primarily in terms of (usually private-sector) oppression vs. liberation, with the state as liberator. I identify with social liberalism's compassionate advocacy of social justice since this is a major biblical theme. However, I disagree with its collectivist tendencies, its bent toward cultural elitism, its reliance on an optimistic view of human nature, its frequent assumption that wealth and success are the results of oppression, and its tendency to trust government to compel the direction of society.
- I understand the foundation of libertarianism to be a worldview that sees political issues primarily in terms of (usually government) tyranny vs. autonomy, with the state's proper role being minimal. I identify with libertarianism's valuing of dignity and self-determination, and its wariness of corruption in both big government and big business. However, I disagree with libertarianism's often low view of law enforcement, its penchant for isolationism, and its tendency to miss the moral character of government's divine purpose in preserving justice as well as liberty among its people.
- I understand the foundation of modern American conservatism to be a worldview that sees political issues primarily in terms of delinquency vs. responsibility, with the state as enforcer of social order. I identify with conservatism's traditionally high regard for moral character and the dignity of owning the fruits of one's choices. My views align more with conservatism than with the other approaches to politics. However, I disagree with conservatism's penchant for overestimating the role of personal choice in the plight of those less well off, for casting the political arena as a war for the soul of the nation, and for unduly prioritizing clean living over care for others.
- I understand neo-conservatism to be a desire to use American foreign policy to export American principles of political liberty and capitalistic economic freedom to the rest of the world. While liberty is indeed the proper condition for all mankind, history has shown that liberty cannot be imposed on a people who are not willing to cherish, sacrifice for, maintain, and defend it themselves. We can and should seek to persuade nations toward greater liberty and respect for human rights, but any effort to unilaterally "liberate" a people through simple regime change is likely only to exchange one tyrant for another.
- I oppose misusing the label "neo-conservative" as a pejorative for conservatives generally or for moderate Republicans who are not deemed conservative enough.
- Conspiratorial worldviews
- Conspiracy theories arise and are sustained by pride (of understanding "the real truth" missed by the masses) and fear (whether suspicion of a group of people, class resentment, or a persecution complex), and such theories are often used to manipulate or exploit those who believe them. The idea that society is secretly being directed by sinister human forces is especially loathsome, since historically such theories have been used to persecute minorities out of envy and suspicion. It is worthwhile to expose the errors of such theories, but it is not especially worthwhile to debate "true believers" who are unwilling to consider ideas at odds with their preconceptions.
I.A.3. Politics and Responsibility
- Leadership and expertise
- Only wise leadership is good leadership. At the same time, the fundamental idea of a free society is that the direction of its culture and institutions be steered by the free choices of the people at large, and not by an elite aristocracy. While the voices of experts offer valuable guidance to the public, they should not have authority to overrule the will of the people in their decision-making capacity, nor should "experts" be preferred over other good men and women in representing the people in government. A good understanding of law and history is important for lawmakers, but an Ivy League degree is not required for a sufficiently good understanding, and matters of character, attitude, and real-world work experience are just as important as education.
- Leadership and character
- The Bible assesses leaders, both believing and unbelieving, based not on accomplishments or policies, but on whether their official actions and personal lives accord with what is good or evil in the eyes of the Lord. Therefore the highest priority in my voting is whether a candidate is of good moral character, and how that character works itself out in the candidate's past and anticipated leadership. The qualities I seek most are humility, gentleness, and quickness to acknowledge and learn from mistakes.
- Civility in government and politics
- Order, decorum, and dignity are fundamental to the fair administration of justice, and should, by rule and policy, be expected of anyone acting in their capacity as a public official. For the public, political speech should be given broad latitude in society, although it is reasonable to direct political discussions away from forums that are devoted to specific non-political topics. Political issues are also known to be contentious, but people entering a political discussion should do so with an intent to listen as well as to speak. Political discourse should be respectful, considerate, and a sincere attempt for people on opposing sides to arrive at a mutual understanding, whether by changing hearts and minds, or simply to be better informed of the opposing viewpoints. Arguments should not conflate issues or divert the discussion, and should avoid generalization and stereotypes. They should not include threats, wishes of harm, personal attacks, bitter sarcasm, or mocking language. This also rules out name-calling, degrading language, assumption of bad motives, and unfounded accusations of conspiracy or bribery.
I.A.4. Religion and Government
- Religious Pluralism
- The American project originated to establish a place where people could serve God as they saw fit, seeing that it is both improper and impossible for the government to effectively regulate beliefs and conscience. Government should not, in its official capacity, evaluate the truth claims of a religion or the sense and morality of religious practices. (Government officials, being people of free conscience themselves, may certainly do so in their capacity as citizens, but not in a way that curtails others' equal right to do so.) The equal right of people to practice their own religion does not mean that people should not discuss, debate, or try to persuade others to their own beliefs and practices; in fact, such peaceable discourse is the only natural alternative to coercion or coerced silence.
- The Role of Religion in Political Action
- Religion, by its nature as an understanding of what is supreme in life, naturally calls for particular modes of behavior, attitude, and conscience. As public officials ought to exercise their duties conscientiously, their views about religion will inevitably affect how they carry out their work. This cannot be fairly or reasonably restricted. Likewise, citizens will vote, advocate for issues, and support or oppose candidates for reasons of conscience. The Constitution's "no religious test" clause means no candidate can be officially judged eligible or ineligible based on religious considerations, although such considerations may still guide the conscience of voters. The First Amendment's establishment clause likewise forbids churches and other religious bodies as institutions from having authority over or favor from the government, but religious citizens may still advocate and petition the government based on their own religious concerns.
I.B.1. The American Identity
- Nationalism and Exceptionalism
- The exceptional principles, origins, and history that bind the American people together make it proper for the United States to continue as a self-determining nation, and its primary obligation is to the people within its jurisdiction. However, that does not translate to a general right to increase the power and prestige of the United States over other nations. The US should also respect the sovereignty and distinctiveness of other nations and their responsibility to their own people. In short, it makes sense for the US government to prioritize the interests of the American people in many respects, but it should not expect other nations to put America before themselves.
- The commonness of our humanity, the global interactions of modern society, and America's inescapable influence mean that it is right and necessary for the US to seek the good of the world, and to prefer cooperation over competition or adversarial relations with peaceful nations.
- The American identity is grounded not in geography or ethnicity but firstly in its aspiration to be a haven of liberty marked by self-determination, equal right of access and opportunity, freedom of expression and especially of religious faith and practice, and a political system that allows the people recourse to hold their government accountable to its purpose; and secondly in its structure as a union of states that are mostly sovereign in their internal affairs but united via the federal government in their common pursuit of those aspirations, their harmony with one another, and their interaction with the rest of the world. For all of America's historical faults, its founding, story, heritage, and aspirations are special outworkings of God's providence that have influenced the rest of the world toward greater freedom, justice, and prosperity. It is good for Americans to vocally cherish, promote, preserve, and defend these principles, and to seek the welfare and flourishing of the American people, for the good of their country and the world.
- America as a White/Western Nation
- There is no historical or cultural legacy, set of values, or innate character specific to being "white." The advancements and global influence of Western civilization arise from a host of historical factors, and Western culture is a mixture of contributions and influences from myriad societies across three continents. It bears mention that non-Western cultures also have virtues and perspectives valuable to modern society, and the impact of Western influence on the world is very much a mixed bag. Additionally, a rise in visibility, influence, and equality of diverse groups of people does not in itself constitute oppression or an existential threat to the cultural majority. America becoming a majority-minority nation is a good thing,
- America as an English-speaking Nation
- America speaks English by custom, but while this is part of America's heritage, it is not essential to American identity. The US does not need to designate English an official language by law, nor should English literacy be required for voting or other exercises of American citizenship. Nevertheless, for obvious practical reasons, English should be taught universally in childhood education, and some minimal facility with English should be required as part of the naturalization process. For the sake of global interaction and in light of our internal diversity, the government should promote multi-lingual study and make reasonable accommodation for those who prefer a non-English language.
I.B.2. Constitutional and Structural Issues
- Our nation owes its freedom, longevity, and peaceful transitions of power to the system of the US government established by our Constitution, and its selection of which powers it grants to that government and which are left reserved to the states and their people. Even today, our government should respect the structures, limits, and rights expressed in the Constitution; Legislators, Presidents, judges, and administrative agencies should hold the Constitution, rather than the status quo, foreign systems, or their own sensibilities, as their standard for law and justice. Furthermore, the Constitution should only be amended when necessary for maintaining orderly continuity and accountability of government, or for preventing the federal government from infringing on the liberties of the states and the people.
- Interpretation of the Constitution should be based on the ordinary meaning of the language chosen by their authors, as it would have been understood by reasonable people at the time.
- Branches of Government
- Despite the common expression "coequal branches of government," I believe the Founders intended Congress to be the supreme branch, both for its role in creating the law which the executive branch enforces and the judiciary applies, and for its power to check and shape the make-up and jurisdiction of the other two branches, compared to its relative independence from their actions. It is a violation of the separation of powers for the President to spend taxpayer money on items for which Congress has specifically declined to allocate funding, or for judges to set aside or ignore federal laws for reasons other than constitutionality, or for judges to set aside executive actions for reasons other than the Constitution and laws passed by Congress.
- The growth of national government and the rise of administrative rule-making in the twentieth century have made the federal government bloated, wasteful, and domineering. There should be a gradual return of power to the states, especially in matters of commerce and personal behavior, though matters of civil rights should remain with the federal government.
- Term Limits
- Elected representatives should be chosen from among the people and not constitute an elite class of "career" politicians. In the interest of accountability and in recognition of both the advantages of incumbency and the temptations of power, I support a Constitutional amendment to limit members of both houses of Congress to twelve years of service. Supreme Court justices should serve for a term of 18 years, so that a new justice is normally appointed once every two years. Other federal judges, not being of the political branches, should continue to serve for term of good behavior. However, a pattern of judicial lawmaking or defiance of the law should be considered a violation of good behavior and subject to impeachment and removal.
- Congressional Oversight of the Executive
- Oversight of the executive branch is one of Congress's Constitutional duties, and the President may not defy Congressional subpoenas or bar officials from testifying before Congress. Since federal prosecutors and investigators answer to the President, they are hindered in their ability to investigate the President or his cabinet objectively and free of interference when criminal actions are suspected. Such investigators should be appointed by and answerable to Congress, independently from the President. Advice given to the President by officials should be privileged from public disclosure unless illegality is reasonably suspected.
- Conditions for Impeachment
- The term "high crimes and misdemeanors" for which a President may be impeached is intended to describe a broad range of misconduct in serious dereliction of duty or abuse of the office, including not only crimes but other extremely serious offenses that corrupt or subvert the political and governmental process and are plainly wrong in themselves to any decent and disinterested party. Given the ways impeachment was discussed by the Founders, I believe it was intended to be a much more commonly sought remedy for public officials' overreach than it has been thus far, and exercised on principle regardless of likelihood of success or considerations of political viability. If the President's duty is to enforce the law regardless of political expediency, then it is Congress's duty to hold the President accountable regardless of political expediency. In cases where officials ought to be impeached, their resignation is of course a preferable outcome.
- Prosecution of Public Officials
- If any official, including the President, is found to have committed crimes while in office or to obtain that office, those crimes should be prosecuted separately from Congress's decision whether to impeach, and statute of limitations should not apply to such crimes, nor should the President or his cabinet have any authority over investigations or proceedings against himself. Besides the foundational principle that no official is above the law, having officials stand trial permits them opportunity to have their name officially and publicly cleared if innocent, whereas immunity from prosecution means a cloud of scandal hangs over them while the facts remain in dispute.
- Emergency Powers
- Federal law currently delegates too much statutory emergency power to the President. Except in true emergencies whose extreme urgency does not permit Congress time to gather and pass legislation, the President should keep to the powers normally permitted by law. Even such a true emergency should not permit the President to allocate money or other resources contrary to the will of Congress except to meet the emergency itself, and then only until Congress has had time to address the crisis through legislation. Even under current law, Congressional inaction does not justify the President or the courts assuming power to act unilaterally in matters assigned to Congress by the Constitution.
- Nationwide Injunctions
- For the sake of the separation of powers, a single federal district court should not be able to issue a nationwide injunction against a law or executive action.
- Article V Convention
- Activists and commentators periodically wish for an "Article V convention" to clarify Constitutional issues, usually in the interest of federalism or to address debt, government accountability and transparency, election concerns, etc. I oppose the idea of invoking Article V, since it would open up the Constitution's rights and the government's very structure to renegotiation in a time when those rights and that structure are poorly understood and radically undervalued. I believe such a convention is highly unlikely, but if it were to take place, it would only leave America less just and less free.
I.B.3. Partisan Issues
- The Two-Party System
- The current state of the two major parties has made our government dysfunctional by the animosity of their rivalry and by prioritizing the winning of elections over the principles they purport to represent. The two major parties as institutions do not really care about their issues (abortion, immigration, climate change, gun control, etc.); rather, they use the issues to gain leverage over voting blocks so that people vote for party without considering the character and qualifications of the candidates, for fear that the other party will ruin and despoil the country. In the meantime, they neglect "third options" on contentious issues, and entirely neglect potentially important issues that do not pit the parties against each other. While I see no problem with citizens voting for third-party candidates, I am not certain a third party would remedy the situation. At present, the best improvement would be for voters to field less-partisan candidates, and to consider candidates on their own merits rather than defaulting to voting for a particular party.
- Bipartisanship and Tribalism
- It is understandable that officials with mutually exclusive solutions to problems, or who wish to move in opposite directions, will be in competition on those particular matters. But whenever possible, public officials should work together toward practical solutions to the most important matters under consideration. Citizens should strive for education, awareness, and discernment in finding right positions on issues and assessing candidates, not attaching themselves uncritically to any one information source, movement, party, or personality. Most importantly, no one should assume the moral character, wisdom, or mental health of a person based on their political orientation or party preference.
- Media Bias
- Having an opinion is not the same as bias, which requires prejudgments or conflicts of interest that influence one's selection, description, and interpretation of information. Anyone who pays much attention to political and social issues will have their own perspective and positions on those issues. News reporters should be forthcoming about their own opinions where appropriate, but the reporting of news and "fact-checking" should be kept separate from commentary and should avoid loaded language, biased weighing of details, and selection of details to form "narratives." Regardless of opinion or bias, the government should not intervene to affect the tone of news reporting or take an adversarial approach toward news media, or show material favoritism to friendly news sources while showing hostility toward contrary ones.
I.C.1. The Electoral System
- Proportional Representation
- I am supportive of proportional-representation systems and methods such as single-transferable-vote, on state and local levels and for any state's members in the US House of Representatives.
- The Electoral College
- The electoral college is an essential element of the nature of the US as a union of states, in which the President is by design elected by the states rather than by the people at large. The electoral college as set forth in the Constitution is necessary to balance the power of larger states with the will of the people throughout the country. Without it, the interests of smaller and even medium-sized states, as well as of people in rural areas, could be safely ignored by candidates, who could win election by appealing solely to voters in the largest US cities.
- The Role of Money in Politics
- Those who complain about "money in politics" should realize that (1) traveling, public events, and public promotion naturally cost vast amounts of money, (2) the amount freely donated by an electorate the size of the US will also naturally be a vast amount, (3) giving money to promote a candidate or cause is one of the most effective forms of political expression and therefore rightly falls under Constitutional protection, and (4) money is typically not given to candidates with contrary views to get them to change those views, but to candidates who already share the donor's views, so that the candidate may be elected and govern by the views they already share. I support the general existing regime of campaign finance law, including public disclosure of donations to candidates, reasonable caps on individual donations, and laws against "quid-pro-quo" donations. Unions and other organizations whose members join as a condition of employment should only be permitted to donate money voluntarily given and designated by their members for that purpose, and with proper disclosures to all their members.
- Politics and Foreign Influence
- Elections within the United States should be free of material influence from foreign nations, groups, and individuals. Cooperation in such efforts, including the sharing of candidates' or voters' confidential information in either direction, should be prohibited by law and should disqualify a candidate from seeking office in the future.
I.C.2. Voting Rights
- Voting Rights
- I support voting rights for all US citizens age 18 and older who are not currently serving sentences as convicted felons, as well as options for absentee and provisional ballots under limited circumstances, and in-person early voting up to one month prior to an election. I oppose mandatory voting and am skeptical of the reliability of online voting. Governments should not restrict efforts to transport poor, elderly, or disabled voters to the polls.
- Criminal Voting Rights
- Citizens should not have voting rights while serving a sentence for a felony conviction. However, their voting rights should be unrestricted prior to conviction and following completion of their sentence.
- Voter ID and Voter Fraud
- A reasonable compromise between the need for voter access for citizens unable to obtain common photo IDs, and the need to ensure the integrity of the vote, would be to compensate voters for any costs incurred obtaining the necessary documents to register to vote, and to provide a free identification upon registration, to be used only for voting.
I.C.3. Voting Decisions
- Moral Duty to Vote
- It is every citizen's duty to be aware enough of candidates and issues to be able to cast an informed vote for Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, Governors, and Mayors. However, if a voter cannot in good conscience support any candidate for a particular office, there is no moral obligation to cast a vote for that office. I support a "none of the above" option when voting for candidates for office, as a way of registering opposition to all the candidates for that office in a way that is more discernible than simply not voting.
- Moral Duty and Party
- Most of today's political issues are not matters on which the Bible takes an unambiguous stance. One can be perfectly patriotic and a thoroughly biblical Christian while embracing political views that are generally conservative, progressive, or libertarian. Voting contrary to one's conscience or to God's express will in Scripture is sinful, but the morality of one's support of a candidate is grounded in the motives and reasoning of the voter. Christian principles do not bind all Christians to vote for or against any particular candidate for office. While individuals and groups may certainly advocate and persuade voters, no one owes their vote to any candidate or party, nor does declining to vote for a candidate imply support of another. It is flatly illogical to claim that not voting skews the result of an election in one direction as opposed to the other.
- "Lesser of Two Evils" Voting
- Voting is an act of conscience, positively endorsing a candidate as fit to hold public office; it is not merely a pragmatic instrument to engineer the advancement of a party or cause. Both major parties have fielded candidates of low character and poor experience, who would do more harm than good, and then pleaded for votes on the ground that their opponent would do even greater harm. This abuse of power does more long-term damage to the country than either party's policies ever would, because it ensures that the people will continue to vote for corrupt leaders. Even the best candidates have minor flaws, but voting for "the lesser of two evils" when no electable candidate is acceptable only perpetuates evil and gives the illusion of a public mandate for the winner's poor qualities.
II. FOREIGN POLICY
II.A.1. International Organizations
- The United Nations
- The United Nations is simultaneously a vital force for peace and international cooperation, and also hopelessly compromised and ineffective. The principal limitation of the UN's effectiveness and moral authority is the membership and high ranking of many nations that are corrupt, abusive of human rights, and hostile to Jewish and Christian interests. I support the continued influence of the US and its allies at the UN as a means of bringing about the best efforts of other nations in good causes as well as some measure of international accountability. I also desire free nations to be more outspoken in rebuking the UN for its toleration of cruelty and for hateful bias in its decisions and in the actions of its members.
- International Courts
- I support the existence of international courts and tribunals for the settlement of economic disputes between countries, as well as major war crimes, atrocities, and obligations of international law that cannot be settled through ordinary diplomacy, as a pragmatic way of globally promoting the rule of law and as an alternative to military conflict. Such courts have made valuable contributions. However, the courts have not fared well in politically charged cases and cases not submitted by mutual agreement, and a pervasive tendency toward inefficiency and bias means democratic nations should be cautious in referring matters to the court that may jeopardize the rights of their people and their sovereignty in matters of national interest. The US should be especially guarded against ICC claims of jurisdiction since it is not a party to the Rome Statute, and should not permit any US resident or citizen to be brought before an international criminal court or tribunal.
- Global Governance
- I strongly believe the world's independent countries should retain their own sovereignty due the drastically different needs, interests, priorities, and histories of the world's many peoples, and as a limitation on corruption and abuses of power. International cooperative organizations and treaty-borne alliances are a vital tool for peace and humanitarian assistance but should not act as authoritative bodies over any nation's people, and their influence on governmental policies and actions should be limited to the terms of the underlying treaties. Free nations should be especially careful not to cede their people's right of self-determination in the interest of solving international problems, as "the greater good" is a historically common justification for tyranny.
- Trade and Tariffs
- Free trade and the institutions that support a global economy are to the long-term advantage of all nations, including the US. We should remember that trade is not a function of government policy but results from the free decisions of consumers and businesses; government can only limit, tax, or incentivize those decisions. Except in very limited circumstances, tariffs are undesirable and hurt all parties involved. The right to enact, raise, lower, or suspend tariffs and economic sanctions lies with Congress, not with the President or executive agencies; that authority should not be transferred to the President on the mere assertion of national security interests. The US benefits greatly from participation in the WTO and the NAFTA trade agreement. Developing nations should not be seen as competitors to the US; on the contrary, when they prosper in their trade with the US, that is to our ultimate benefit as well.
- The Global Economy
- It is good to have global diversity in the ownership and location of business, sources of materials and labor, foreign and domestic consumer base, and globally agreed-upon standards for products, labor, and health and safety. There should be no penalty to businesses for sourcing abroad, nor do businesses have a moral obligation to get their labor and materials primarily from within their home country. Similarly, Americans should be under no pressure to exclusively "buy American."
- Foreign Aid
- It is good for the US government to provide disaster relief to other countries in the form of USAID coordination and supply, transportation and logistics by the military, and support of private relief organizations. The giving of money, food, and other donations is usually best raised, administered, and delivered by private entities. Longer-term aid to nations should not consist of general gifts of money but assistance (which may include designated funding) in developing systems, infrastructure, and methods (such as in agriculture) to enable their own freedom, prosperity, and self-sufficiency.
- Basic Immigration Policy
- Modern security and administration requires an orderly immigration process. Accordingly, we should have reasonable and compassionate laws governing immigration, and those laws should be enforced fairly and humanely. We currently apply those laws cruelly in some cases and hardly at all in others. Immigration policy should be guided by America's original purpose as a haven of liberty for the persecuted and oppressed of the world, and not toward punishing the poor and the desperate for the insufficiencies and inefficiencies of our process. At present, America's policies and treatment of refugees in particular are malign and inhuman, often deliberately for the purpose of discouraging people from seeking refuge here. Recognizing that immigrants are as productive and law-abiding as native-born citizens, we should welcome refugees and immigrants, viewing their presence as a benefit and not as a threat or a drain on the national wealth. Immigrants have sacred dignity as people, and are not just consumers but producers, creators, cultivators, innovators, and reformers. We should devote sufficient personnel and resources to manage as many as we can safely take in, keeping families together in healthy and comfortable conditions while approvals and determinations are in process. All children should have access to basic public education, but legal status should be obtained before residents may receive public financial assistance or admission to public universities. One of the most important ways to prevent overruns of immigration is to help troubled source countries become safer and more prosperous; solving the border crisis requires more cooperation and aid to the countries south of us, not less.
- Border Security
- We should find ways to screen out criminals and terrorists without placing an undue burden on people seeking to become responsible residents. Border security should focus on preventing smugglers, human traffickers, and "coyotes" who prey on migrants, and stopping the importation of drugs and other contraband which predominantly come through ports of entry. The current border fencing that already exists (as of 2018) needs to be properly maintained and fortified as needed, but is otherwise sufficient for its purpose. I support enforcement against visa overstays and newly-entered illegals as cases arise, but legal residency and proper documentation should be offered as easily and affordably to peaceable residents, especially those who came in as children, as to legal immigrants. The most pressing issue for undocumented residents is inhumane employment due to the under-the-table nature of their work and their lack of legal recourse. This problem may be addressed by aggressively prosecuting companies that employ undocumented workers under harsh conditions, requiring e-Verify or other authentication for hiring, and the obtaining of legal status by workers to bring them out of the shadows. Violent criminals illegally in the US should either serve sentences here or be deported to the criminal custody of their country of origin, so as not to export criminal activity to those countries.
- Immigrant Assimilation
- Immigrants willingly blend in to American culture, contributing to it elements of their own distinct customs, as they are embraced by the society at large and permitted to enjoy the rights and benefits of life in America. Naturalization and legalization policies should have as their priority the provision of a timely and unburdensome path to participation and mobility in American life. Adult citizenship tests should include a general awareness of America's origins, system, and ideals, along with a basic understanding of English, but should not be more challenging than what is required of students in primary education. Fluency in English should not be a prerequisite for financial assistance.
- Sanctuary Cities
- Enforcement of violations of immigration law should prioritize the punishment of violators who commit crimes that are violent or persistent. Since, in our federal system, immigration enforcement is handled by the national government while most crimes are matters of state jurisdiction, any effort to so prioritize requires the cooperation of state and local police in detaining such criminals and notifying federal authorities. I therefore oppose sanctuary cities' refusal to provide that cooperation.
- Dual Citizenship
- While naturalizing citizens should take the Oath of Allegiance to the US, they should not be required to renounce their prior citizenship, and neither naturalized citizenship nor dual citizenship should restrict an American's rights or access to the benefits of society, including holding public office (except for the constitutional requirement that the President be a citizen by birth). US citizens who hold a valid foreign passport should be allowed to enter the country on that passport.
- Accidental Americans
- The US should preferably not tax citizens who neither reside within US jurisdiction nor earn or spend any money there within a given year. The US should especially not penalize citizens abroad who were not aware of their citizenship status.
II.B.1. Stance Toward the World
- America and Policing of the World
- The political and economic pull of the United States, as well as its military might, place the US in a vital position to be a force for good in the world by persuasion and influence. I even support the US providing money, arms, and humanitarian aid to revolutionaries whose cause is just and whose methods are well-vetted and generally honorable. But any military action against a government that is not an imminent threat to us or to an ally with whom we have a defense agreement should be done only as part of a broadly international effort to prevent or stop major atrocities such as genocide.
- Nation Building and Exporting Democracy
- I support state-building efforts only with consensus support of the population and the voluntary and enthusiastic participation of the nation's military. Democracy cannot be secured from outside a nation when a sizable portion of its people are opposed to the new government.
- NATO and Other Defense Agreements
- Given the international reach of hostile nations and the many benefits of international partnership, I strongly support defensive alliances with free democratic nations across the world; that is, mutual promises to come to the aid of an ally under attack. I do not support alliances that would obligate us to enter a conflict in which an ally is the aggressor or enters a third-party conflict by choice.
- In conflicts where both sides primarily involve dictatorships or other nations hostile to human rights, the US should generally remain outside the conflict except to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its own people. Nevertheless, humanitarian concerns may sometimes necessitate intervening in such a conflict to prevent genocide or the rise of major regional or global threats.
- International alliances should be funded through mutual efforts based on the relative ability of the parties to provide that funding. The US should not approach such alliances as business ventures or regard their value as a matter of dollars and cents.
- Intelligence and Espionage
- International intelligence and counterintelligence, against any possible threat and in cooperation with other nations with a common interest, is necessary to national security. It is also by its nature fraught with perplexing ethical dilemmas. While many real-life scenarios have no clear moral resolution, spy agencies should be guided by inductive morality and by the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives. Congress should not leave intelligence agencies to their own devices with the order to protect the country at all costs, only to treat them as villains after deciding they went too far; the red-line moral boundaries should be set down ahead of time. This requires transparency regarding the limits of policy (while still protecting sources and methods), and accountability to Congress for violations of policy.
II.B.2. War and the Military
- Declarations of War
- Constitutionally, the decision to engage in armed conflict rests with Congress, and the exercise of warfare is carried out by the President as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces (who, as a civilian leader, ought not to micromanage strategy and tactics). In cases where immediate action is necessary, I support current law which allows the President to address truly imminent threats to Americans' life and liberty and obtain approval for military force from Congress at the first opportunity. No President has authority to initiate armed conflict without Congressional authorization, and every theater of war should receive its own appropriately-defined authorization.
- Just Cause for War
- Military action against foreign acts of war is justified (1) under proper authority as defined by our Constitution, treaties, and laws; (2) just cause (defense against aggressors; restoration of people, things, and territory wrongly seized; or proportional retribution for wrongs done to the people); (3) morally honorable motivation by decision-makers; (4) a measurable and well-defined objective and a reasonable hope of achieving it; and (5) military action being the only means of righting the wrong. Soldiers fighting under lawful orders and serving justly with regard to their own conduct are not to blame for leaders' wrongful decisions, and so we should support and pray for the safety of our armed forces even in an unjust war. However, we should not desire the success of unjust endeavors even when they are pursued by our own government.
- Just Practice of War
- Fighting justly in a just cause is a good, not an evil, but fighting unjustly is abhorrent even when done for a good cause. War necessarily requires the killing and incapacitation of enemy forces, as well as destruction of its military resources, supply lines, and factories. But the aim is not to cause pain, suffering, fear, and antagonism, but to end the war and achieve a livable peace. War must also be waged with no intentional targeting of noncombatants, with reasonable measures taken to minimize the suffering of innocents, and with prudence of proportionality that weighs the likely success of a mission and its contribution to the war effort against the suffering and loss of innocents. Since insufficient use of force leads only to prolonged suffering and mounting of casualties, military action should be sufficiently overwhelming, severe, and powerful to achieve swift killing, a swift end to the war, and a swift return to peace.
- Nuclear Weapons
- The original use of nuclear weapons in World War II, while perhaps necessary to prevent an even greater loss of innocent life, was a tragedy that must not be repeated. Preventing nuclear proliferation should be the highest goal of our defense policy, since indiscriminate nuclear weapons are incompatible with the just practice of war. We should renounce the current nuclear deterrence policy that relies on the threat of killing millions of innocents, and openly work to replace it with a victory-denying strategy of developing low-yield, high-precision nuclear weapons to inflict severe enough military losses to quickly incapacitate an enemy. Such a use would require the renegotiation of any treaties that forbid any first use of nuclear weapons or development of new types of weapons, and in the course of that renegotiation we should strive for the worldwide dismantling of the entire current indiscriminate nuclear arsenal. Conventional forces should be strengthened and reoriented accordingly to maintain security.
- Interrogative Methods and Torture
- Torture and "enhanced interrogation" have been proven to be unreliable as means of gaining information or legitimate confessions. Regardless of reliability, brutality and torture as defined in the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (including extended periods of solitary confinement) are inherently immoral and should be illegal, whether used by the military, federal agencies, or state law enforcement.
- Detention of Foreign Terrorists
- People captured via armed conflict while lawfully making war against the United States should be held and treated according to the customs for Prisoners of War outlined in the Geneva Conventions and similar treaties. When suspected terrorists, saboteurs, and other unlawful combatants are captured outside the US, I support holding and trying them under military jurisdiction outside the US. Terrorist suspects captured inside the US should be tried in civilian federal courts. The expectation that prisoners of war be released at a war's end requires that our wars not be open-ended but conducted with a goal of conclusion and a return to peace. Unlawful combatants found guilty of war crimes may be held beyond the end of the war, but even these should be treated humanely and not subjected to torture or degradation.
- Assassination of Foreign Leaders
- Targeted killing is a natural tactic against enemies in times of war. However, sponsoring or engaging in political assassination, however indirectly, should be strongly proscribed by law for any US entity, and it is both foolish and dangerous for any leader to speak positively of political assassination, even in jest.
- Mandatory Military Service
- Military service ought to be voluntary except in cases of absolute necessity during wartime. The US should endeavor to keep its voluntary standing forces sufficient to meet any need so that a draft is not required, but in case of a draft, all citizens of suitable age and physical and mental capacity should be equally eligible to be drafted, with the exception of conscientious objectors and incarcerated criminals.
II.B.3. Present International Issues
- Terrorism Defined
- I agree with the UN's definition of terrorism as "criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes...whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them." I also affirm the US code's more concise definition of "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents."
- Islam and the Global War on Terror
- Today and in past centuries, most Muslim societies have often been on par with the West in terms of peace, trade, modernization, and cultural contributions. Since the rise of anti-Western terror groups among radical Islamists in the late 20th century, free governments' responsibility to protect their people requires them to be proactive and aggressive in destroying those terror groups, preventing attacks against their people and interests, and killing those behind the attacks as a matter of just warfare. This ongoing effort is not a conventional war as against nations, and any action we take against other nations, or in other nations without their consent, should require its own justification and Congressional authorization.
- The War in Afghanistan
- It may well have been necessary to topple the Taliban government in Afghanistan as part of our initial effort to decimate Al Qaeda following the 9/11 attacks. However, trying to establish a democracy in a country both strongly factional and with pervasively corrupt leadership, whose people had twice rejected democracy in the past century, was never going to succeed. I believe the Taliban could have been defeated with a greater dedication of troops and resources as recommended by generals, and that the best outcome the US can pursue now is to keep terror groups that target the US from gaining a secure haven there.
- The War in Iraq
- The international intelligence consensus in 2003 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that might be used to threaten free countries, was based on flawed assumptions and overdependence on unreliable human sources, and was ultimately incorrect. For that reason, the allied invasion of Iraq was justified in its intent but based on an error and therefore a grave mistake. Additionally, the US used unlawful means to ensure UN approval of the invasion. Given Iraq's history, establishing a pro-Western democracy was more feasible in Iraq than in Afghanistan, but the US failed to secure its territory or anticipate the influx of hostiles from other countries. The surge of 2007-2008 would have succeeded in bringing lasting peace if we had not pulled out with AQI's successor group still intact in 2011, had prevented spillover from the Syrian civil war, and had answered Iraq's request for assistance in destroying ISIS when it was in its infancy. US, Iraqi, and Kurdish forces deserve shared credit for taking back ISIS territory, but the US should not leave this effort until ISIS is permanently incapacitated.
- Israeli-Palestinian Issues
- I support the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish homeland for reasons of recent and ancient history rather than theological reasons. The holocaust, as well as the persistence of anti-Semitism in Europe and Asia, prove the need for a safe haven for Jews, and the current population and government of the land are as valid a reality as the presence of non-indigenous populations anywhere else in the world. The occupied portions of the Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza Strip are legitimately part of Israel as a just outcome of the Six-Day War. Israel has the same right to self-defense against threats within and without as any other nation, and Palestinian leadership has been consistently unappeasable and explicitly murderous, which makes diplomatic solutions unlikely. Nevertheless, a two-state solution is the best mid-range goal for peace in the region. Israel also has its own issues of corruption and mistreatment of Palestinian people which the US ought to address, and the second-class status of Christian and Muslim Palestinians is a complex issue for which I have no answers without more knowledge of the political and security situation there.
- China's Ji Xinping administration is not our friend, but we should not make it our enemy. China has in recent years had great success in building itself up as a global economic superpower, at the same time becoming increasingly antagonistic to the interests of free nations and oppressive of the political and religious rights of its own people. Our debts and economic dependence on China, to say nothing of its military capacity and its influence on North Korea, make it important for us to maintain peaceful diplomatic relations with the country. Our China policy must therefore be extremely careful and strategic as we address tyrannical human rights abuses and cybersecurity concerns, and seek to dismantle barriers to free trade without provoking aggression.
- North Korea
- North Korea's attaining of nuclear weapons was a failure of American policy, and we should join China, Japan, and other regional powers in multilateral efforts to prevent further nuclear development. I do not believe denuclearization is feasible under the current DPRK government, and any promises on their part should receive a skeptical "trust-but-verify" response. Our highest priority in the region should be to protect South Korea from acts of military aggression or retaliation.
- US and other NATO nations should seek to protect former Soviet and Eastern Bloc countries from Russia's expansionist posture, especially in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and the Baltic states. The Russian annexation of the Crimea should not be allowed to stand, and free countries should by their trade and diplomatic policies present a united front against Russian aggression. Russia should also not be permitted to expand its influence in the Caucasus, Middle East, and Latin America. I do not support direct military action against Russia at this point.
III. DOMESTIC POLICY
III.A.1. Life And Its Protection
- The most basic purpose of government is protecting the lives of the persons within its jurisdiction, including those not yet born. Therefore, states should (and should be free to) outlaw the practice of abortion from the time of conception. There may be cases where saving the mother's life requires medical treatment the unborn child may not survive; in such cases measures should still be taken to save both mother and child if possible, but loss of the child in that one context (though tragic) should receive no legal penalty. In light of the sanctity of human life, abortions are not justified for reasons of economics, disability or disfigurement, non-life-threatening health concerns, or the circumstances of the conception (rape, incest, etc.). Citizens opposing abortion should continue to demonstrate their conviction of the sanctity of life by adoption, assistance to new mothers, and care for the poor, as well as peaceful, lawful, and positive efforts to persuade voters to cherish all human life from conception to natural death.
- Government Funding of Abortion
- Government money should not be designated for abortions or abortion advocacy at home or abroad, nor should it be legal for government employees to perform abortions or for assistance to be spent on abortion services or health plans that cover abortions. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood that receive a substantial portion of their revenue from abortions (over 20% in PP's case) should not be eligible for Medicaid funding.
- Euthanasia and End-of-Life Care
- Medical services exist to preserve life and health, and should not be permitted to take action to end a person's death unnaturally, assist in a suicide, or fail to provide basic life necessities such as air, hydration, and nutrition. While euthanasia and assisted suicide should be illegal, this should not require keeping a body functioning after permanent cessation of consciousness, which for legal purposes may be regarded as natural death. People should be at liberty to decline medical care, and it is important for people to make record of their end-of-life care preferences ahead of time. The law should require such wishes, excluding euthanasia or assisted suicide, to be respected, and to withhold treatment when and only when clearly indicated by the patient (or by parents for juvenile patients). Palliative care is appropriate in cases where curative treatment is impossible or exceedingly traumatic and survivability is near zero.
- Self-Defense and Gun Control
- The right to life logically implies a right to self-defense, which in our time includes a general right to own and carry common firearms. For the sake of public safety, I support minimally restrictive gun licensing, universal background checks, and laws requiring safe storage and transportation. I also support "red flag" laws, provided they are subject to appeal for the sake of due process. As for prohibitions and limitations on certain weapons and ammunition, I believe the measures already in place in federal law are sufficient. I oppose the concept of "duty to flee" in favor of "stand-your-ground" laws, and I believe gun-free zones are ineffective and even counterproductive in the absence of the means to prevent guns from actually being brought into such zones. Suicide, individual homicides, mass shootings, terrorism, and other criminal activity should not be lumped together as "gun violence" but should be approached as their own issues, each with its own causes and solutions.
- Liability for Firearms Dealers
- As with any product that has a legally permissible use, manufacturers and dealers of firearms should not be held liable for the wrongful use of their products.
- Security from School Shootings
- Schools and other public spaces should have reasonable procedures in place to prevent or stop shootings and other violent attacks. Preventative measures should not be overly burdensome or worrying to students. This may include arming security personnel or trained administrative faculty, but should not include arming teachers or placing firearms in classrooms or other student-accessible areas.
III.A.2. The Free Exchange of Ideas
- Freedom of Speech
- "Under the First Amendment, there is no such thing as a false idea," and there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. The government has no rightful authority to censor peaceful and orderly expressions of ideas and beliefs, only against speech whose purpose is to threaten or incite crime, or material injury directly caused by words (e.g., defamation, tortious interference, breach of non-disclosure agreements, etc.). The state may not punish speech whose hurt or damage consists only of the subjective feelings of the people who hear the words, or the possibility that someone may come to believe the ideas expressed. Private entities are not engaging in improper censorship or abridging freedom of speech when they insist that speech therein be on-topic, reasonably civil and truthful, appropriate to their audience, and not contrary to the entity's purpose or fundamental beliefs.
- Freedom of the Press
- Any individual or organization should have free rein to investigate public affairs, report events, and disseminate unclassified information, from whatever perspective and with whatever interpretation they wish, barring malicious libel or slander.
- Government Censorship and Obscenity
- The government's interest in maintaining social order should include restricting the non-metaphorical use of explicit and graphic sexual language, imagery, and behavior in public settings and in the presence of minors. However, adult individuals and voluntary gatherings should be left free to determine and enforce internally their own standards of expression.
III.A.3. Religion and Conscience
- Religious Liberty
- People must be free to express, advocate for, and live according to any religious beliefs (or lack thereof) without interference or condemnation by government, provided there is no harm to person or property. Any restriction of this by government must be the least restrictive means possible to preserve truly necessary government interests.
- Separation of Church and State
- The government should acknowledge its accountability to God and the religious/spiritual elements of the nation's heritage, but the government should use neither force nor money for the primary purpose of advancing the spiritual cause of specific religious entities, nor seek to regulate the religious activity of such entities.
- Government Aid to Faith Based Charities
- While it may be unwise for faith-based charities to depend on the government for funding, the government should not discriminate against organizations or disqualify them from public funding due to their religious nature, for purposes for which it would otherwise be available. Such funding should not be used to justify restricting the charity's right to operate according to its held principles.
- Civil Disobedience
- Voters and public officials should always remember that they simply cannot require people to sin against their God. When a law requires people to do what they believe to be sin, or forbids them to follow what they believe to be the command of God, it is to be expected that the people will obey God as the higher authority rather than human institutions. Where such disobedience is truly necessary, it should be carried out peacefully, in obedience to all just laws and with respect for the authorities and public servants whose job it is to enforce the law. The government must still enforce the laws as they stand, and their enforcement should not be resisted by illegal means. Where laws are found to be unjust, the government should remedy the situation by the means available to them, whether by new legislation, judicial review, pardons, or simple prosecutorial discretion.
III.A.4. Gender and Sexuality
- Women's Rights
- Women should be legally guaranteed the same rights and opportunities as men throughout secular society, particularly with regard to health and safety, legal standing, property and custody rights, civic and political participation, employment, compensation for labor, access to public services, eligibility for military service, and protection against violence, harassment, and abuse.
- Women's advocacy under the label of feminism has done much valuable work to address abuse and exploitation of women, to outlaw discrimination and remove unfair institutional and cultural barriers to their life, liberty, equality, and pursuit of happiness, and to correct negative attitudes and stereotypes about women. Yet I have many concerns with feminism as a movement:
- (1) I oppose abortion as an abhorrent practice and believe it ought to be illegal in almost all circumstances.
- (2) I reject the sexual revolution and many feminists' support of lewdness and the sex industry.
- (3) I uphold the Bible's calls upon wives to submit to their own husbands and upon churches to restrict their authoritative teaching roles to men.
- (4) I believe that men and women, being equal as persons, have inherent psychological differences, and that feminism wrongly discourages women from embracing typically feminine traits.
- (5) I believe political advocacy for any issue should generally have a gentle, positive tone.
- Gender Roles
- Care should be taken throughout society to avoid prejudice and stereotyping of all sorts, including gender stereotypes, though without legally restricting the peaceful expression of ideas about the nature of gender and natural gender differences. The liberty of homes and churches to have their own understandings and arrangements of gender roles is sacrosanct and off-limits to the government, although men and women still deserve equal protection from violence and abuse within those institutions. A free society should permit men and women to pursue their own career paths and place in the community without negative social pressure, even if inherent gender differences result in disparate life choices between men and women, and disparate outcomes that result from those free choices.
- Hiring and Pay for Women
- For comparable positions within any particular company, pay should vary based only on job-relevant factors such as merit, experience, and seniority, and never according to gender, race, or other discriminatory factors. Some systematic inequalities remain between men and women in our society (particularly within the creative industries), but I am convinced that in most fields the "pay gap" is largely the result of men and women having different priorities and making different choices, rather than discrimination by employers. Where there are inequities, or where women perceive they are disfavored, employers should make an ongoing, high-priority effort to make their businesses a place where women want to work and where they and their contributions are respected and welcomed. Company policies should ensure that consideration of women for jobs or promotions are not negatively affected by the reservations some men may have about interviewing or working closely with a woman, as this is a form of discrimination.
- Marriage and Sexuality
- While adults should generally be free to choose their own voluntary relationships, living arrangements, and understanding of what it means to be a family, the government has a vital interest in upholding permanent marriage between one man and one woman as the basic unit of society, as the preferred environment for the raising of children, and as the primary basis for matters of family law. Yet the government should also recognize the validity of nonmarital relationship contracts and long-term domestic partnerships with regard to property ownership, support obligations, estate administration, tax issues, etc. Sexual promiscuity, and sex without childbearing, are not rights per se, but are difficult or impossible to police and generally outside the role of government to enforce against, as long as no person is being harmed or otherwise victimized.
- LGBT Issues
- Adult individuals and couples should be free to live out their chosen peaceable relationships and arrangements of gender roles, and to pursue their own understanding of themselves, without the threat of harm, or of exclusion or discrimination in matters unrelated to sex and gender, and so long as others' right to privacy is not violated. Likewise, people should also be free to hold, express, and abide by their own conscience and understanding of sexual morality and its implications without threat of harm, exclusion, or discrimination, nor should they be compelled to participate in or express approval of others' views and choices contrary to their own conscience.
- Regarding gender transitions, more research needs to be done on the appropriate treatment for people perceiving a difference between their personal gender and their biological sex. Even if gender transition is the only natural means to self-acceptance for some, it may be psychologically harmful to many if not most others.
- Children should be raised to align with their birth gender, with medical/hormonal transitions banned prior to adulthood.
- Gay Conversion Therapy
- Same-sex attraction is not a mental disorder and cannot be reliably treated through psychotherapy. It is a temptation that is only overcome through the power of the gospel. Government should restrict conversion therapy to adults, since it has often proven harmful to juveniles treated against their will. But government should not attempt to dictate what treatments are appropriate for adults' physical and mental health issues, as long as all participants are willing and no harm is being done to anyone. Any legal restrictions on conversion therapy must be clearly worded so as not to restrict teaching and counseling in a religious context, or public speech and personal persuasion outside the realm of psychotherapy.
- Human Trafficking and Sex Workers
- Because of their inherent deprivation of liberty, governments should aggressively investigate and prosecute human trafficking, modern slavery, and child pornography and molestation, as well as the lack of consent prevalent in the industries of prostitution, sex tourism, and pornography. Efforts should also be made to raise awareness of the plight of those trapped by such institutions, and to provide means of personal recovery and reentry into free society.
III.A.5. Race and Nationality
- Affirmative Action
- Where classes of people have historically been excluded or disadvantaged, I can support careful policies of affirmative action to provide compensatory opportunities for the disadvantaged, and to ensure diversity and sensitivity—provided that those accepted through affirmative action are actually qualified, and that sufficient opportunities for inclusion are available for all. However, affirmative action as practiced often operates unfairly for one group to another's clear disadvantage, or brings people into positions, school programs, loans, etc., for which they are not prepared and in which they will not succeed. Furthermore, affirmative action by its nature only corrects already existing disparity, and greater energy should be directed toward addressing the roots of the disparity itself. Also, diversity of opinion, background, and perspective are just as important and may also be just grounds for affirmative action. The government should be deferential to employers' and private entities' efforts to find balance here, so long as no group is being targeted for disadvantage.
- Racial Advocacy
- Americans need to do a far better job accepting Muslims, Hispanics, and other groups who are subject to stereotypes and treated with suspicion and contempt. Even once conditions improve, it is only reasonable that groups who have endured hardship, oppression, exclusion, or neglect due to their identity would come together based on their shared experiences and perspective for all manner of purposes, to have observances that emphasize their contributions to society, and most obviously to advocate for equality, representation, and protection from mistreatment. Such groups and observances are not necessarily racist or discriminatory since their existence is a natural element of the members' efforts toward equal liberty and justice in the larger society. However, as every individual has his or her own convictions, opinions, and unique experiences, no organization can speak for everyone of a particular race, gender, or other group, especially on matters unrelated to membership in that group.
- Racial Profiling
- It is both unjust and unreliable to apply statistical or assumed traits of a group to a specific member of that group; thus, racial/ethnic profiling has no rightful place in law enforcement or prosecutorial discretion. Since disparities in searches, arrests, convictions, and sentences outweigh any behavioral statistical disparities between blacks and whites nearly everywhere in the US, racial profiling is a pervasive issue and has a severely detrimental effect on race relations and the effectiveness and reputation of our justice system. It is, of course, reasonable when searching for particular individuals to direct one's attention to individuals matching their description, but that is not what is commonly meant by the term "racial profiling."
- Southern Pride and Confederate Remembrance
- The experience of African-Americans is still deeply affected by the history of slavery in the American South, along with the oppression that followed and the disparities that continue to exist today. There is no harm in celebrating positive aspects of Southern identity and heritage, but in light of the primacy of slavery among the causes of the Civil War, we should not give honor or reverence to the Confederate cause, the plantation system, and other foundations of injustice.
- Seeing that Confederate flags and statues were often used in the 20th century to promote the continued subjugation of blacks in the South and perpetuate the Confederate cause as honorable, such symbols are at best insensitive as a public display, deeply offensive to large segments of the population in their implications, and should not receive government funding or endorsement.
- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other southerners who supported slavery or segregation but who made overall positive contributions to society may be honored for those contributions, though with a historically informed understanding of their shortcomings.
III.A.6. Other Civil Rights Issues
- Discrimination vs. Freedom of Association
- Ideally, institutions such as businesses and schools would be free to choose employees, clients, customers, faculty, teachers, students, etc., with the same liberty with which individuals form friendships and other social groupings. However, given people's equal right to live and move within society, and in light of the historically prevalent exclusion of entire classes of people, it has become necessary for the government to broadly prevent discrimination in secular employment, education, housing, finance, and businesses open to the general public, with regard to race/ethnicity, place of origin, religion, age, sex/sexuality, marital status, parentage, or disability.
- Military Inclusion
- Service in the military and law enforcement should be open to all US residents who meet relevant physical, mental, and behavioral qualifications (as well as relevant standards of age, number of dependents, etc.), regardless of race, gender, or sexuality. Such qualifications should also be the same for all who enlist; likewise, the conformity of behavior normally expected for military service should apply across the board as well.
- Right to Privacy
- People should be generally free to control access to and use of their body, home, possessions, and intellectual property, and to decide for themselves when and whether to disclose their beliefs, opinions, feelings, lawful secrets, and personal history.
- Legality of Gambling
- A free and just society should not permit gambling wherein money or other assets are placed at risk and transferred from losers to winners by chance, due to the addictive nature of gambling, its longstanding connection to crime and extortion, and its diminishing of the place of an earned living as the normal way of life in civilized society.
III.A.7. Law and Crime
- Hate Crimes
- A crime committed against a person or group deserves punishment in and of itself, regardless of motive. But when the crime's purpose is to threaten, intimidate, and traumatize a larger group (i.e., people who are like the victims), the crime is essentially terroristic in that it aims to inflict trauma on a population for an ideological purpose, and should be separately chargeable as a form of intimidation against that population as a whole. The mere expression or promotion of hatred or hateful opinions—in the absence of overt criminal acts or of advocating or threatening such acts—should not be included within the definition of a hate crime.
- Flag Burning and Anti-Patriotic Acts
- It is a mark of civilized behavior to speak respectfully of one's leaders even when criticizing, and to treat the symbols of one's people with honor. It is reasonable for citizens to consider a person's regard for the nation, its principles, and its symbols when determining whether to support that person in public life. Nevertheless, the government should not compel expressions of patriotism from its citizens, or punish expressions of opposition to the government and its actions and policies.
- Claims of Sexual Misconduct
- Sexual harassment and assault are a gravely serious problem in our society, far more prevalent than false allegations thereof. Too often, misconduct is not addressed because victims' claims are met with active disbelief and retaliation. Quickness to believe victims should be the general rule; what few false allegations there are tend to arise from fairly transparent motivations and fall apart soon enough, whereas true allegations tend to be corroborated as more victims are emboldened to come forward (since assailants rarely limit themselves to a single victim). In any criminal case, the prosecuting state bears the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and in civil cases, the burden of proof (usually by preponderance of evidence) rests with the plaintiff. However, both in court and in public discourse, firsthand and eyewitness testimony constitute evidence, and multiple independent testimonies corroborate one another. It is ignorant and improper to discourage alleged victims of harassment, assault, or bullying from making their stories public for lack of proof, to confront them as liars, or to disbelieve them based on the timing of their coming forward or their subsequent interactions with the accused. Above all, it is simply not the case that women level false allegations out of desire for attention or to jealously tear down successful men.
- Whistleblower Protection
- Those who disclose legal or ethical misconduct through established, legal processes ae not leakers but whistleblowers and should be protected by law from retaliation or improper disclosure of their identity. I support state and federal anti-SLAPP laws and other measures to protect complainants from being silenced, punished, or intimidated by costly litigation.
- Leaking of Classified Information
- The press is an important check on the government's affairs and operations, including national defense, but it should not be exempt from laws against the dissemination of classified information. People who disclose classified information regarding activities they know to be lawful should not receive whistleblower protections, and journalists have no justification for withholding from legal authorities the names of sources who leak such information. Yet the government should also avoid secrecy for its own sake and should prosecute only the leaking of information that truly endangers national security or places personnel at risk. It is no crime to discuss information that is already public, but editors should exercise discretion and self-restraint about sensitive matters that may be a threat to US interests. Yet officials should not try to hide corrupt behavior under the pretext of national security interests.
III.A.8. Crime Prevention
- Domestic Surveillance
- I have not given much attention to the issue of domestic mass surveillance, but I am concerned about the potential for misuse or theft of collected information, and I question whether the prevention and solving of crimes via public surveillance and mass information gathering are sufficient to justify the loss of privacy and confident liberty by the general public.
- Police Militarization
- I generally oppose providing municipal police with military equipment, on the principle that the cultures, roles, and tactics of the police and military are meant to be vastly different. It has been found that militarized police forces have more violent encounters with the public regardless of local crime rates.
- Police Brutality and Shootings
- Every culture should take steps to prevent brutality and abuse of authority by police, and to minimize the frequency of violent encounters with law enforcement. While I acknowledge that the vast majority of police uses of force are reasonable and justified, there are far too many cases of lethal actions against people not presenting a threat. It is important to understand facts and contexts before presuming guilt or innocence in police shooting cases; the number of high-profile cases that have been misrepresented and politicized (in both directions) have contributed to polarization on this issue. I support body cameras to provide both accountability and protection for the police by producing a record of hostile encounters.
III.A.9. Criminal Punishment
- Restorative Justice
- I favor a justice system that embraces the biblical link between justice and reconciliation, prioritizing rehabilitation with accountability, making amends where possible to repair the harm done by crime, and just retribution for irreversible loss, with the aim of restoring harmony between the offender and the person and community offended.
- Prison as a Method of Punishment
- Confinement may be necessary for violent and/or predatory criminals whose freedom would put their community at risk, but it has proven ineffective for deterrence or rehabilitation, and may not be a fitting punishment for many crimes. I favor non-violent alternatives to prison for lawbreakers who are not a danger to their community.
- Prison Reform
- Life in prison should be unpleasant and austere but humane, with proper medical care and other life necessities, adequate protection from other inmates, and not damaging to mental health. Prisons should be managed by the state and not by private entities. Abuse of inmates by authorities should be aggressively prosecuted. Restorative justice and alternative punishments would solve the problem of prison overcrowding.
- Bail Reform
- I support the general concept of ending the system of cash bail, since it is extremely burdensome for the poor and lower middle class. However, I have not seen a replacement system proposed that does not carry the same potential for unequal treatment of arrested persons irrespective of the nature of their charge and the strength of the case against them.
- Capital Punishment
- The Bible invests the government with the primary duty of protecting the sanctity of human life, and the authority of capital punishment is entrusted to civil government for that purpose, though not even in the Bible is death prescribed for every case of murder. I support swift and humane capital punishment following due process, for cases of multiple premeditated murders and those committed with exceptional brutality and cruelty, as well as for acts of treason or desertion that result in the loss of human life, for adults whose guilt is proven beyond any reasonable doubt. Beyond the jury's own verdict, capital cases should be monitored and reviewed to ensure that guilt has actually been established to that standard before approving a sentence of death.
- Mental Health and Culpability
- With regard to pleas of not guilty by reason of insanity, I favor the current federal standard that the defendant must present clear and convincing evidence that he was unable to comprehend the nature of his actions due to severe mental illness. Other instances of mental illness contributing to a crime may be considered mitigating factors but should still leave the defendant culpable for the crime.
- The power to pardon convicted men and women is inherent to the authority of chief executives, and is necessary since no government should be without mercy. Pardons should most commonly be used in individual cases where strict application of the law has an unjust result. It is not the appropriate remedy for whole classes of offenders, or for laws that are unjust in and of themselves. Pardons should especially not be used for offenders who are unrepentant, or for cases in which chief executives or their family or appointees have a vested interest. Nevertheless, the pardon power should not be legally restricted except by the limits of jurisdiction (i.e., the President cannot pardon state crimes or contempt of Congress; a state's governor can only pardon crimes in that state). If the pardon power were to be abused grossly, flagrantly, and on a large scale, the better remedy would be impeachment and removal from office, rather than a restriction of the rightful powers of future leaders.
III.B.1. The Economy
- Basic Approach to Economics
- Having something to offer in exchange for one's livelihood being an essential element of human dignity, healthy adults ought to earn their living through labor of equivalent value, ideally doing so by using one's unique talents and skills to provide goods and services for the betterment of others. This divinely ordered arrangement entails the right to control and enjoy the fruits of one's own labor, attended by the responsibility to voluntarily help those unable to provide for themselves. Related to this overall concept is ownership of one's rightfully obtained possessions and property. While government has an inherent right to tax by virtue of its divine purpose in serving its people, any economic system or governmental action ought to keep in line with these economic principles.
- Economic Systems
- Capitalism is the best and most successful known economic system, provided there is a system of accountability, and is responsible for raising much of the world out of starvation and poverty. Proper regulation in the interest of honesty and safety and to prevent consumer mistreatment is part of a healthy capitalist society, as is the presence of a social safety net. For capitalism to achieve its potential in the US, we desperately need to recover the principle found in Adam Smith's writings, that economic self-interest must be restrained internally by moral sympathy and externally by competition. We should also remove regulations that unduly hinder competition and economic development. Socialistic systems fail for their lack of incentive to create wealth, their immorality in denying people's right to enjoy the fruit of their own labor, and the tyranny necessary to force sameness on a population whose diversity of talent and effort must tend toward disparate outcomes.
- The Federal Reserve
- The Federal Reserve has generally behaved responsibly and has proven a useful instrument in managing the economy. It should not be politicized or placed under orders or pressure from the executive branch of government. In normal circumstances, interest rates ought to be kept reasonably low (mid-single digits), but not so low as to disincentivize savings and investment or to deprive the Fed of the possibility of lowering interest rates when needed.
III.B.2. Taxes and Spending
- Tax Policy
- A mildly progressive tax rate seems most fair. Every individual should pay at least some percentage, and taxes are better assessed on expenditures than on wealth or income. One general tax at each level of government ought to be sufficient for that government's general operations and services.
- Property Taxes
- Property taxes are burdensome because property is not a liquid asset, and one's living space may not reflect what resources a person has from which to pay the tax. They also discourage home ownership and (in the case of local taxes) provide inadequate funding for municipalities with poorer residents, which only worsens their situation. There is also the problem of double-taxation, since the money used to buy the property was already taxed either when it was earned or when the purchase was made. For similar reasons, I also oppose charging more than a nominal amount of money for annual vehicle registration.
- Taxing Capital Gains
- The issue of taxing capital gains is challenging since, on one hand, much of the money from investments relates to retirement plans for lower- or middle-class workers, while on the other, many wealthy corporate executives receive most or all of their income as stocks. Under the current system, I favor a capital gains tax that exempts retirement investments. Of course, given my preference for taxing expenditures instead of income, there would be no need for a capital gains tax at all.
- Estate Taxes
- The passing on of an inheritance is a sacred act that accompanies grief and loss, is essential to human flourishing, and is especially important to farmers and others whose work is intergenerational. Taxing inheritance is inadvisable for all these reasons, but also, under a system based around income tax, it constitutes double taxation. Currently the lifetime exemption is high enough for most families, but ideally, all estate taxes and associated gift taxes ought to be abolished.
- Government Spending and Debt
- It should be remembered that government is only one of several institutions in society that do good things; not every good cause needs to be funded through or managed by government. While voters have wide latitude in how they want taxpayer money spent, it is best to limit government expenditures to the particular functions of government and necessary things the government alone can provide (meaning those that require the use of force or universal participation, or whose scale exceeds that of any private entity). Most worthwhile projects are best handled by the private sector. The people may choose to have their government provide them with social services, only so long as they themselves are willing and able to pay the taxes necessary to provide those services.
III.B.3. The Government and Business
- Pro-Business and Jobs Legislation
- Generally speaking, a free economy thrives as people make free choices selecting goods and services, how much to give, spend, or save, what work to pursue, where and how to do business, whom and how many workers to hire, etc. Jobs are created via that network of choices. Government can incentivize business and job creation mostly by getting out of the way: by eliminating corporate taxes, cutting payroll taxes for new hires, and keeping regulations and legal "red tape" at a reasonable level. In times of recession, government should further stimulate the economy by reducing interest rates, temporarily extending unemployment benefits, and moving forward scheduled public works projects. Deficit spending and wars are limited in their short-term help to the economy and are costly over the long-term, and thus are not beneficial to national prosperity.
- Bailouts and Corporate Welfare
- Corporate bailouts, federal subsidies to large corporations (including most farm subsidies), and industry-specific protective policies are contrary to the spirit of economic liberty and ultimately undemocratic.
- Local Corporate Subsidies
- I support the use of state and local susbsidies to incentivize the location of businesses and institutions, so long as officials involved have no conflict of interest. This is a matter of competition that can function well within a capitalistic framework.
- Corporate Mega-Mergers
- I support a requirement that "mega-mergers" of large corporations be subject to federal approval, because of such mergers' potential to stifle competition to the detriment of the industry and its consumers.
- Immorally high interest rates, price gouging, and predatory lending, in which the wealthy place the needy at their mercy for profit, have no place in a free society. The government should cap credit card and other private interest rates at 15% for the protection of consumers.
- Use of Eminent Domain
- I recognize the right of government to purchase property via eminent domain for genuine and necessary public use, such as for roads, schools, and military bases. However, this right does not extend to economic development, demographic steering, efforts to increase property values to raise tax revenue, or any other acquisition that involves forcibly taking land from some to give it to others.
III.B.4. The Government and Labor
- Income Inequality
- In any free and just society, people who devote more time and work toward endeavors of greater value to society will generally receive more income than others. Unequal outcomes that are the result of care, talent, work, experience, and invested time are a good thing. While the government should not regulate wages over a minimum amount, employers should pay their employees a fair return for their labor. However, the main problem the working class currently faces is wage stagnation, rather than income inequality per se.
- Minimum Wage
- There ought to be a minimum wage, with certain exceptions/waivers, but the current minimum wage is too high.
- Labor Unions
- Collective bargaining with arbitration is desirable, since an employee on his own is unable to negotiate on an equal footing with a company's management. Even in a capitalistic society, employment options are often limited and unjust policies are common in both the private and public sectors. Unions can alleviate this problem, and in extreme cases a strike may be necessary after less coercive options have been exhausted. However, most larger unions as they currently operate do more harm than good, particularly in their politicization, their quickness to resort to coercion, their frequent bullying of workers more loyal to the company than to the union, their lack of transparency, and their occasional valuing of dues over actual worker interests. No worker who chooses to cross a picket line for the sake of needed income should face pressure or retaliation for doing so.
- Overtime and Benefits
- Increased pay for overtime for full-time workers, a reasonable amount of break time, and a guarantee of return after a leave of absence for new parents should be mandated by law, but the provision of paid vacation and personal leave time, retirement plans, insurance coverage, and other benefits should be the free choice of the employer.
- Government Pensions
- Government pensions should be substantially equivalent in value to the retirement options of comparable positions in the private sector. The determination of such pensions (as with any government pay) should in some way be accountable to voters under the principle of "no taxation without representation." Most importantly, governments should not promise higher pensions than they will securely be able to pay upon workers' retirement.
III.B.5. The Government and Infrastructure
- Public Transportation
- Having one's own vehicle is highly preferable for convenience, privacy, and autonomy. Nevertheless, public transportation is an important service for people who lack their own means of transport and cannot afford more convenient forms of mass transportation. Subway systems are especially helpful in the major cities where they operate, and it is helpful to have buses and passenger trains available for those who need or prefer them. But most high-speed rail projects in the US have proven enormously expensive and have been unsuccessful for lack of funds and/or lack of interest.
- Self-Driving Automobiles
- I believe a transition to self-driving vehicles is inevitable over the next century. Although self-driving vehicles would provide a much safer and more efficient transportation system, the transition itself will present many challenges. Governments at all levels need to consider how to update traffic laws over this period, and what role government should play as industries based around human operation of vehicles try to adapt to the changes or are phased out altogether.
- Net Neutrality
- Despite alarmist predictions from both sides, I do not believe the debate over "Net Neutrality" is of much practical significance. The Internet has operated fairly and without serious restriction of access both before and during the adoption of "Net Neutrality" regulations, as well as after they were rescinded.
- Regulation of Social Media
- Social media platforms serve a good purpose in society but have run into major issues with harmful content and disinformation campaigns, as well as failures to respect users' privacy and control of their content and personal information. Businesses that operate in virtual space should have the same legal rights, standards, and obligations as "real-world" companies, though it will take time to bring laws and regulations into the modern age. Government should aim at making virtual space less harmful, not on making the companies less profitable, and I oppose laws aimed at a single business or organization. For now, the public should press social media platforms on the importance of self-policing and urge the government toward laws that address harassment, theft, fraud, and other actionable abuses of social media.
III.B.6. The Government and Science
- Government Funding for Research
- As both basic and applied scientific research are vitally important to the advancement of knowledge and innovation, I support public and private funding of all research fields. Federal support of science and technology is granted or implied in many of the enumerated powers in the Constitution. I am concerned that some studies receive their funding based on an expectation that their findings will support a particular narrative or agenda, but this is the case both for corporate and public funding and cannot be effectively addressed legislatively.
- Research Ethics
- The humane treatment of human subjects and respectful use of human tissue and remains in research should be regulated by law. There should also be some regulation of the treatment of animals, but with the recognition that some harm to animals is necessary for important research, such as developing medicines and other products that are safe for humans. One major failing in modern research is insufficient peer review: better investigation and reproduction of findings are necessary to detect and remedy bias, fraud, experimental confounds, and poor reliability and validity.
- Cloning and Reproductive Advancements
- I support the total ban of human cloning of any sort. I support fertility treatment and surrogate motherhood, which is akin to adoption. However, reproductive assistance paid for with government money should respect human life by not destroying embryos, and should respect the institution of marriage by joining the sperm and egg only from the husband and wife, not from outside donors.
- Stem Cell Research
- Given the sanctity of human life, it should be illegal to harvest stem cells or other tissue from unborn children for research purposes in a way that destroys the child. Stem cells from other sources, and research on already-existing stem cell lines, should be permitted as they do not involve the destruction of human life.
- Space Exploration
- Exploration and eventual colonization of Mars, along with other study of space, should be one of the highest priorities of our scientific research, both public and private. The benefits of space research far outweigh the costs of the program, as is evident from the prospect of answers to questions about life found from examining extraterrestrial water, the earth-practical discoveries already obtained from research in space, the intellectual capital of young science students excited about space, the closeness of such a major new chapter in human experience, and the fact that societies grow when they challenge themselves and stagnate when they do not.
- Paranormal Issues
- There may be life elsewhere in the universe, and I believe in supernatural forces and the afterlife. However, I do not believe earth has been visited by extraterrestrial life, that angels or demons take visible form without clear purpose, or that the dead have any influence over this world. I therefore believe unexplained phenomena would have a natural explanation if all the facts were known.
III.B.7. General Education
- Educational Systems
- Ideally, and in keeping with childhood development, childhood education should focus on the most basic and practical knowledge of the world (language, mathematics, science, history, and culture, including music and other arts). Adolescent education should further develop and apply that knowledge to prepare students to be functional adults and productive members of society, including teaching "adulting" tasks and instilling general critical thinking and problem-solving skills. By graduation, the student should be ready and qualified to work most living-wage jobs. For those who opt to continue in adult education, that experience should focus either on training for a more specialized career or on an advanced academic understanding of how the world works and how various disciplines fit together. At primary and secondary levels of education, control should be kept as local as possible to maximize responsiveness to parental needs and concerns.
- Mandatory Preschool
- Mandatory school attendance should begin at age six with first grade; preschool and kindergarten should be optional.
- Public vs. Private Education
- Public schools, existing to make a decent universal education available to the whole population, should be funded fairly through state budgets rather than through property taxes. I also support the provision of means-tested, state-sponsored vouchers to enable parents to send their children to the private school of their choice, if they so desire.
- Charter Schools
- I support the existence and accountability of a small number of charter schools as an excellent place to offer alternative learning styles and test new techniques and resources. However, states should not jeopardize the funding of standard public education in the pursuit of charter school projects. I do not believe charter schools offer a general solution to problems in public schools.
- I recognize both the right of parents to direct their children's education, and the public interest in ensuring universal childhood education and child welfare. I therefore support the policy recommendations of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, which affirms responsible homeschooling and its potential for flexibility and innovation, while advocating for better oversight, assessment, and protection by state authorities.
- Colleges and Universities
- College should not be required or expected for most living-wage jobs; as a corollary, standard pre-adult education should be structured to adequately prepare all graduates for such jobs. Parents, teachers, political leaders, and society at large should recognize military service or going straight into the work force to be as respectable as pursuing a college education.
- Tuition, Scholarships, and Loans
- Both public and private universities should have as their primary purpose the providing of education to qualified students, not the maximizing of profits. As such, tuition at all schools should be kept affordable for the average family, with need-based and academic scholarships readily available. Society should promote and incentivize private donations to universities for this purpose. The federal government should cancel outstanding student loan debt for middle- and lower-class graduates and end the burdensome regime of student loans in favor of need-based financial assistance (preferably from the states) that may be used at any accredited school, without constraints on the school's faith, religious practice, or political persuasion.
- In-State Tuition for Non-Citizens
- Applying students who meet residency requirements for in-state tuition at any institution should be eligible regardless of their citizenship status, but they should need to obtain legal residency status before being admitted to public universities. It should be made reasonably quick and simple to obtain that legal status.
- One of local government's highest educational priorities should be to generously fund and enthusiastically promote libraries. Besides providing public access to information, media, computers, and the Internet, libraries are a safe and peaceful place for children and youth, a haven for the homeless and those without water and power, and provide important assistance to the blind, deaf, and people with special learning needs.
III.B.8. The Content of Education
- Federal Education Standards
- The federal government has no Constitutional authority to establish national education standards or even to have a Department of Education. Education should not be too standardized across the country, since different regions of the country, with different industries and ways of life, will vary in their educational needs. Standards should instead be set by states and communities, preferably by free coordination with one another.
- Alternate Learning Styles
- Teaching styles should be tailored to students' learning needs based on their demonstrated effectiveness, more than for tradition or ease of teaching. Opportunities should be available for students who would benefit from specialized teaching methods, whether through IEPs or other programs. Schools should endeavor to minimize social stratification, isolation, or stigma based on participation in such programs.
- I generally believe students with very different learning styles, capacities, and needs should be taught in different settings and with teachers ready to focus on those needs, and that this is one of the greatest obstacles for students who currently fail to receive a successful education. The disadvantages to mainstreaming are especially damaging to gifted students, concrete and active learners, and the Deaf.
- Values Education
- As there is no longer a cultural consensus on moral values, it is unlikely that public schools can be relied upon to teach moral values without contradicting the moral sensibilities of a large proportion of families. However, for the sake of education and basic social functioning, children should be taught how to be respectful, cooperative, and non-disruptive, and to respond appropriately to teacher and faculty authority. Public education need not be strictly value neutral, but should recognize and accommodate students' liberty of conscience, neither requiring nor disparaging personal beliefs or belief systems.
- Sex Education
- Inasmuch as marriage and sexuality are inextricably linked to moral and religious beliefs, in which public schools ought to defer to the liberty of parents to raise their children as they see fit, the public education system is poorly equipped to provide sex education to children or adolescents, beyond the reproductive process itself as appropriate in a biology class. I oppose providing contraceptives to students, as this both encourages immoral behavior and seeks to remove the natural consequences that ought to discourage it. The problem is not teen pregnancy or disease, but the immoral behavior itself, and that is remedied through the gospel via parents and churches, not through government and education.
- Religion in School Curriculum
- As most schoolteachers do not meet biblical qualifications for Christian teaching ministry, I do not support religious/devotional Bible teaching as an official activity in public schools, although a factual knowledge of religions and of the Bible's historical and literary influence can be an appropriate part of any school curriculum. I also do not support teacher- or faculty-led prayer in public schools, since any prayer broad enough to accommodate all students' beliefs would be so vague as to be meaningless. Local communities should determine the extent to which they desire their schools to accommodate creationism or other religion-based alternative understandings of the world into their curriculum. I believe the current anti-theistic assumptions of modern science should be rejected and that intelligent design is a genuinely scientific alternative to naturalistic evolution as the origin of biological diversity, and may be taught as such. At a minimum, all schools should acknowledge the historical and current resistance to evolutionary theories and endeavor to teach without disrespect to the religious or irreligious convictions of students and their parents.
III.B.9. Other Education Issues
- Zero-Tolerance Policies
- Zero-tolerance policies are contrary to the principles of liberty and justice, since they by definition rule out considering context, common sense, and fairness in the application of rules and consequences.
- Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings
- Hate and harassment have no legitimate place anywhere and should be excluded from forums with moderated discussion, including classrooms. With regard to education, it is reasonable to scale subject matter and its manner of discussion according to students' age and maturity, to be considerate of common or known sensitivities, and to provide warnings when content may reasonably be expected to be disturbing or offensive, especially to students who have been traumatized. Nevertheless, one purpose of college and other adult education is to explore and examine challenging or unpopular ideas, including confronting historically important evils and errors to discover better ways of thinking. This necessarily includes difficult discussions for which students ought to be prepared.
- Religious Expression in Public Schools
- Outside of class, public school students should be at liberty to pray, study religious texts, discuss religion, and meet as groups for religious purposes, on school grounds at any time, and inside during times the school campus is open, so long as such activities are respectful and non-disruptive. Such groups should have the same access to school facilities as student groups meeting for any other purpose. Teachers, faculty, or adults from the community who facilitate student-led groups may do so as private individuals; this does not constitute a violation of church-state separation. The right of religious groups to associate and choose leadership according to religious criteria is essential to the nature of such groups and should place them at no disadvantage. Bibles, religious jewelry, and religion-associated clothing do not in and of themselves disrupt the learning experience and should not be prohibited.
- Public Schools' Relationship with Churches
- It should be legal for schools to allow church groups to meet in their facilities during non-student hours, and to partner with churches for various purposes so long as student attendance at church-associated gatherings is optional.
- Women's Athletics and Transgender Issues
- As physical activity is a vital (and often neglected) element of healthy maturation, it is important for both boys and girls to have access to athletic opportunities. Since athletic competition depends on physical factors, it is a matter of course that boys' and girls' sports should be divided according to the physical differences between them, regardless of their personal gender identification. Shower and changing facilities should also be separated by physical sex, since body privacy with respect to the opposite sex is a matter not of social custom but of fundamental decency.
III.C.1. Health Policy
- The Government and Public Health
- The power to prevent and contain outbreaks of communicable diseases, including the power of quarantine, is basic to the most essential purpose of government to protect the lives of those under its care. The government also has an essential interest in regulating to a reasonable degree a healthy and safe environment in the public space, in the workplace, in constructed buildings, etc. However, the normal provision of medical care and the general health habits of individuals are best left in the private sector along with matters of food, clothing, housing, and other life necessities, which are normally purchased with one's earned living as a matter of basic human dignity and liberty.
- Access for the Disabled
- Whereas individuals without disabilities may occasionally be inconvenienced by the layout of buildings and public spaces, those with disabilities often find access impossible. All facilities open to the public should be accessible to people in wheelchairs or who require trained service animals. These and places of education and employment should also make sufficient accommodations for blind, deaf, and other special-needs persons. I also believe ADA regulations on access ought to apply to new church facilities in the same way as standard building codes. The government has no rightful authority over religious hiring practices, but churches and other religious bodies should of themselves be nondiscriminatory with regard to any disability not specifically prohibited by their Scriptures. (The Christian Scriptures have no such prohibitions.)
- Mental Illness and Institutionalization
- Much educational and promotional work needs to be done to remove the stigma of counseling, mental health issues, and natural variations of personality, and to counter the suspicion that people with mental illness are necessarily prone to violence. Treatment for mental illnesses and behavioral impairments should be covered by insurance on the same level as non-psychiatric medical services. The greatest thing that can be done to reduce homelessness and poverty among the mentally ill is to provide the option of healthy and positive institutionalization (or living assistance, depending on severity) for those whose conditions render them unable to handle basic activities of daily living. Where their mental condition interferes with their ability to consent to institutionalization, responsible means should be available for that decision to be made by proxy. Institutionalization should be mandatory, with due process, for those who demonstrate a likelihood of danger to themselves or others.
- Mandatory Vaccination
- Vaccines, vaccine combinations, and vaccine schedules have been thoroughly researched and found overwhelmingly safe. Notwithstanding the infinitesimal risk of serious side effects, the government should compel universal vaccination against communicable diseases where medically practicable (with the obvious exception of those who cannot be safely vaccinated). This includes vaccination as part of the immigration process for those not already vaccinated. Besides the fact that no major religion currently forbids vaccinations, the government's interest in protecting the public health from infectious diseases cannot afford religious exemptions.
- Abuse of Dependents
- Abuse of children (as well as the elderly, disabled, or institutionalized) by people in positions of trust should be aggressively prosecuted and severely punished. With the understanding that some with mental illness or dementia may be prone to perceive or report abuse that is not actually present, all reports of abuse should be carefully investigated.
III.C.2. Drug Policy
- The War on Drugs
- Since drug abuse is addictive and both personally and socially destructive, the government should aggressively fight the importation and production of illicit drugs, as well as their distribution, funding, and sale, while also working to reduce drug demand and steer users toward rehabilitation. Currently there is a need for better community policing, intelligence gathering and research on the drug industry, and assessment of current drug control strategies. I have not studied the issue of decriminalization of drug use or the question of mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses, although I recognize that penalties for drug possession may be key to prosecuting dealers. I believe it may be helpful to compare the effectiveness of other countries' approaches to drug enforcement to find what approaches might be most beneficial to solving America's drug problem, within constitutional limits.
- Safe Havens for Drug Addicts
- I am skeptical of the wisdom of "safe havens" for supervised use of illicit drugs. While they may reduce the incidence of overdose, addiction needs to be treated rather than facilitated, and it is generally unwise for a society to remove the natural risks and consequences of irresponsible activity.
- Regulation of Marijuana
- Federal law should permit carefully overseen clinical research to determine the safety and efficacy of cannabis and cannabinoids for medical purposes, and based on positive results, approve their prescription for appropriate medical purposes. Marijuana should not be legalized for recreational use.
- Regulation of Alcohol and Tobacco
- Alcohol and tobacco are legal drugs in America largely for historical reasons (and also because fermentation is a naturally occurring process). However, several factors call for regulation of the two: their addictive nature when used to excess, the judgment-altering effects of drunkenness, and protection of the public health from second-hand smoke. In light of varying cultural and historical realities from place to place, I support the diversity of regulatory schemes in different states. However, more should be done to prevent underage drinking and smoking, as it seems almost all users begin their habit as minors.
IIII.C.3. Health Care Costs
- Government and Health Coverage
- As a rule, especially for a country as large as the US and for a government with such a poor track record of inefficiency, the normal provision of medical care and the general health habits of individuals are best left in the private sector along with matters of food, clothing, housing, and other life necessities, which are normally purchased with one's earned living as a matter of basic human dignity and liberty. Nevertheless, a free people should have the right, by vote, to have their government provide social services that benefit the general public and especially the poor, and this includes assistance with the high costs of medical care and health insurance. Decisions about the extent of those services should be made mindful of the government's limited resources, capacity for quality service, likelihood of waste, fraud, and abuse, and the relative necessity of the government to provide that service, compared with the more basic functions of government. In short, I believe efforts to improve health coverage should focus on making private insurance affordable, sustainable, and fairly accessible; and on working with health industries to make medical costs competitive.
- Coverage of Pre-Existing Conditions
- The premise of insurance requires healthy customers paying into the system to provide the money that needs to be paid out in claims, and so people should not be able to wait until they are sick and need insurance before signing up. However, people with chronic conditions or with problems whose significance is not yet realized must be able to have their needs covered. Balancing these considerations, I believe as long as premiums are being paid by or for the vast majority of adults, coverage should not be denied to people with pre-existing conditions.
- Coverage of Mental Health
- Insurance and other medical financial assistance should cover physical health and mental health as equal priorities.
- Coverage of Contraception
- Except in cases of true medical necessity, insurance companies should be free to decide whether or not to cover contraceptive devices, methods, and medications. Some non-covering plans need to be available for purchasers who cannot support contraception for reasons of religion or conscience.
- Medical Bankruptcies
- Since medical debt is usually incurred faultlessly, I believe the burden of bankruptcy for medical bills in the US is an injustice that places the poor at an especially unfair disadvantage. I believe there should be a special form of medical debt forgiveness available which frees debtors while compensating medical creditors for the loss, and which does not damage the credit of those affected.
III.C.4. Public Assistance
- The Social Safety Net
- It is good for government to provide a survival-level safety net for those who have exhausted all other means of support and assistance, but private charity should take precedence since genuine help is relational, not power-based, and not merely a handout, and is noble only when voluntary. Where government assists, there must be accountability on both ends, to improve efficiency and ensure against waste, fraud, abuse, and redundancy.
- Welfare and Public Housing
- Adequate public assistance in food, housing, medical care, and other basic necessities should be available for all residents who cannot support themselves due to disability and who have exhausted any other means of support. The long-term goal of any public assistance given to able-bodied, able-minded individuals of working age (whether unemployed or underemployed) should be to help them attain financial self-sufficiency. As a matter of human dignity, any adult who is not an invalid should provide something from themselves for the assistance they receive.
- Social Security
- As a forced-and-false savings program (essentially a Ponzi scheme), social security was always unconstitutional, in conflict and competition with other social spending, and doomed to eventual failure. Longer lifespans and stagnant wages in the face of a rising cost of living have made Social Security especially unsustainable. Payouts to citizens who have paid in must be honored, but the government should quickly pursue a transition away from mandatory Social Security to a replacement program, voluntary and investment-based. This would take two or three generations but could involve gradually raising the age of eligibility while reducing benefits on an age-based declining scale. Funds to pay for benefits yet to be paid out from Social Security could come from the sale of government land and facilities.
- Government at all levels should work to prevent homelessness and treat the homeless with compassion. Prevention should include public assistance such as rent supplements for those who need it, drug rehabilitation, and ensuring care for the mentally ill and for young people leaving custody of the state. Compassionate treatment should include, where possible, providing space for campsites and free publicly accessible bathroom and shower facilities. The homeless should also be expected to follow the same laws as other residents, but governments should not pass laws or design facilities for the purpose of inconveniencing or driving away homeless people.
- Universal Basic Income
- Addressing extreme poverty should be one of a society's highest priorities, but almost every other way of addressing poverty ever proposed makes more sense than Universal Basic Income. Consider that in order to send every adult in the US $1,000 a month, the government would have to take $1,000 a month from every adult in the US, on average, plus administrative expenses. Earning the necessities of life by contributing one's labor to provide some good or service to the community is a matter of human dignity and a necessity of individual liberty, and should be the norm for any society.
- Drug Testing for Public Assistance
- Addiction to alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs does not justify the government's public assistance programs leaving a person starving or homeless. Those receiving public assistance should be drug tested, but those testing positive should receive rehabilitative assistance rather than be excluded from help.
III.C.5. Environmental Policy
- Environmental Role of Government
- The central purpose of government in protecting the lives of its people implies a responsibility to cultivate and maintain the environment in the interest of public health and safety. As a matter of basic compassion, proper care for animals and their habitat is an additional role whose scope often requires government regulation and other intervention (such as licensing and quotas for hunting and fishing). However, it is contrary to the government's purpose to sacrifice or jeopardize human lives, only livelihoods, or essential liberties for environmental causes in which others' lives, livelihoods, or liberties are not equally at stake. That being said, government may work with private industry to help develop environmentally-friendly technologies which may end up making some jobs obsolete; this should be regarded as a natural consequence of the general advancement of society. However, government cannot compel inventions and innovations by fiat or threat, and so I oppose legal deadlines for new technologies or premature phasing out of the old before the new is truly ready.
- Human Overpopulation
- For families, for civilizations, and for life on earth generally, human beings are an asset, not a liability. The overall human population is not too large, and people are not just consumers but producers, creators, cultivators, innovators, and reformers. The challenge of providing food for all of Earth's people can be met through economic development in developing countries and the pursuit of more efficient farming methods.
- Waste Disposal
- As technology permits, governments should facilitate the efficient recycling of waste, especially from non-renewable sources, and dispose of non-recyclable waste in a manner that minimizes disruption to humans and wildlife.
- Government should seek strategies to limit pollution of the land, water, and air within its jurisdiction as well as pollution of the ocean, working cooperatively with industry to balance environmental responsibility with economic efficiency. Restrictive action should be based on actual data rather than alarmism, and should take into account feasibility, economic impact, and reasonable times for implementation.
- Animal Rights
- The welfare of animals is a human responsibility rather than an animal right per se. God cares for the well-being of animals and plants, yet human life is worth far more, and God has granted humans the right to use animals and plants for food, clothing, labor, and other purposes. Government should permit the use of animals while penalizing poaching and inhumane treatment, and should enact reasonable measures to protect habitats and species from endangerment or extinction.
- Genetically Modified Food
- Genetically modified food is generally no less safe or healthy than conventional food products, and once tested should be permitted alongside any other food with no legal restrictions other than honest labeling for the sake of people who wish to decline their use.
III.C.6. Energy Policy
- Fossil Fuels and Drilling
- The use of fossil fuels has been a necessary ingredient, not only of developed nations' prosperity and freedom of movement, but of much of the world's rise out of poverty and starvation. While a gradual transition toward renewable energy is desirable, the use of cleaner fuels and methods will suffice in the meantime. I support the use of offshore and directional drilling to make domestic oil and especially natural gas more readily available, especially as we should not be dependent for oil on foreign powers that are often cruel to their people and hostile to our interests. However, the apparent link between hydraulic fracking and minor earthquakes means it should be used cautiously in a limited fashion, if at all. Our reliance on fossil fuels means our energy reserves, refineries, and other essential energy facilities should be maintained and protected as a vital element of our national security.
- Fossil Fuels and Climate Change
- I believe human activity is contributing to a gradual increase in global temperatures, with both positive and negative climatic effects, and that the negative effects outweigh the known positive ones. I further believe this ought to be addressed (and is being addressed) by redoubled efforts to cultivate renewable energy sources and limit CO₂ emissions without disrupting people's livelihoods or way of life. However, the threat of climate change is exaggerated and is often hijacked by advocates for socialistic economies and increased government control. The exaggerations and political agendas of climate alarmists are to blame for the widespread skepticism that global warming is occurring; that alarmism actually inhibits the search for solutions.
- My primary concern against biofuels is the farming space they require, which land is better left either forested or used for growing food.
- Water, Wind, and Solar Power
- I support the development and increase of hydroelectric power. Wind and solar power are useful but are not yet sufficient to replace other sources of energy with current technology, and some environmentally detrimental effects of wind and solar farms are being overlooked and need to be addressed before expanding their use. The claim that windmills are harmful due to infrasound is a false rumor and should not impede the development of wind power.
- Nuclear Energy
- Nuclear energy currently offers the safest and cleanest source of renewable energy with the potential to replace much of our use of fossil fuels. The production of nuclear energy should be restricted to peaceful, democratic nations whose history and transparency can ensure against the weaponization of nuclear resources.
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