America is facing an important election, in which many vital issues are on the line. As your representative,
I will work hard to bring real change to the status quo. Here are the issues that I am most passionate about:
Restore America's Image Abroad
The world community has grown to perceive America as an arrogant, militaristic nation. Our military has created an empire of over 700 bases in foreign countries, including Germany and Japan, where they are neither needed nor wanted. Our government plans to spend $965 billion on the military in 2009, more than all other countries in the world combined. If we didn't spend all this money on war, we could guarantee health care for every American, improve our school and university systems, research ways to stop our dependence on oil, and more. America's increasing military presence in the rest of the world serves primarily to protect U.S. economic interests, while destabilizing the world and making Americans less safe. This pattern is evident across many decades of American foreign policy, but for evidence, we need look no further than Iraq, where the Pentagon supplied Saddam Hussein with weapons in the 1980s, then decided he was a threat as soon as he used those weapons against someone other than Iran.
America's militarism has damaged our moral standing in the world; currently, the U.S. believes that it can kidnap and detain citizens of other countries if they fit inside the morally ambiguous category of "enemy combatants". In the past five years, the world has also realized that the United States tortures citizens of foreign countries.
The U.S. has lost its credibility when it comes to the environment. America is one of the world's worst polluters, and has put forth almost no effort to change that. When I showed my Moldovan students An Inconvenient Truth in 2007, I was embarrassed that my country was doing nothing in the face of a situation that affects the entire world. At the same time that we are polluting the world's environment, we are using trade agreements that benefit U.S. interests more than world interests.
As a member of Congress, I will work to cut the military budget in half and close all but the most essential of our bases abroad. I will drastically increase the size of the Peace Corps and other foreign aid programs. I will act to close our detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and stop the use of torture by the military, CIA and any other government agency. I will make sure that America takes the lead in international carbon emissions treaties and commits to researching sustainable alternative energy sources. Lastly, I will work for fairness in our trade agreements.
Improving Our Democracy
Many of the country's most pressing issues have been festering for years, but have been exacerbated by the current administration and the congress's lack of backbone to act as a check on the executive. President Bush has lied to the American people time and again, and he has run the national debt higher than ever before. We cannot allow another president to follow in Bush's footsteps. Congress has not wanted to challenge the president because the Democrats don't want to be viewed as too liberal. This is natural in a political system limited to two parties, because the weaker party will always hope to steal moderates away from the stronger party. This creates a harsh and angry political environment in which there is much more shouting than legislating.
In order to improve our democracy, I will take several actions. First, I will move to impeach George Bush, reasserting the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches. I will also work to add a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, so that no future president and congress can run the nation further into debt ever again. I will introduce legislation that would help political parties that are currently considered "third parties". With a check on the executive and the introduction of more voices into the political system, our democracy can function better, and it will with me representing the 15th District.
Improving the Lives of Everyday Americans
For many, the American Dream is getting harder and harder to make a reality. Our schools are not providing our children with the education they need, and the military reaches inside schools and recruits those kids to join the cause of war. More and more Americans, especially young adults and children, are living without health insurance. The so-called "War on Drugs" punishes marijuana users for consuming a substance that is proven to have no worse effects than alcohol or tobacco. At the same time that the American Dream is becoming more elusive to current Americans, it has become harder for foreigners to gain legal entry to the country.
As the 15th District's representative, I will work to double the amount of federal education money available, and remove the clause from No Child Left Behind that forces schools to allow military recruiters in their doors. I will work to make public healthcare available and affordable to everyone who wants it. I will introduce legislation to legalize marijuana and tax it at the same level as alcohol or tobacco. I will also help create an immigration policy that values the risks that immigrants take in leaving their homes and the strength that they bring to the U.S.
Special Addendum: The Bailout
The dire economic situation was created by both the Democrats and Republicans. The bailout (valued arbitrarily at $700 billion because, according to one staffer in Henry Paulsen's office, they "needed a big number") was passed with only slightly more discussion than the USA PATRIOT Act, and congressional representatives, including my incumbent opponent, refused to listen to the American public and acted to save the corporate interests that fund their campaigns.
America is indeed in economic trouble, but this is not a problem that happened overnight, and it is not something that the Democrats can blame on the Bush administration with a straight face. The U.S. Congress's job is to be responsible with money, and that is a mission it has failed completely for decades, whether run by Democrats or Republicans. Everyday Americans pick up the message from their government, so while Congress pays for two wars and a bloated military budget it can't afford, average Americans stupidly purchase a new big-screen TV that they won't be able to afford for another eight months, or they buy a house with a mortgage they can't pay.
I cringed while watching Sarah Palin in the vice-presidential debate as she blamed the heads of financial companies for the economic crisis and made a pledge of "Never Again," when it was the two major parties that have created a low-accountability system for financial executives and a no-responsibility system for the government and average Americans. Sarah Palin will not change a thing about the current system, and neither will anyone else in the Republican or Democratic parties, least of all Mike Honda.
While I have sympathy for all Americans in these tough economic times, I have the same message for elected officials as I do for their constituents: Your unwise spending got you into this mess, you should have seen it coming, you need to cut your debt, and you need to get your house in order.
When it comes to Congress, the first step toward getting the House in order is to vote out every yes man who approved the bailout, including Mike Honda, and vote in candidates who understand the true value of money.