Vote for Me and I’ll Set You Free


September 17, 2008 at 1:09 pm

I have decided that instead of complaining about the inadequacies of the candidates running for president I would run as a write-in candidate. Here is my platform, as articulated in my stump speech:

My fellow Americans, or should I say my fellow citizens of the global community; reigning socio-political realities do not afford us the luxury of looking at ourselves merely as Americans, we now live in what has been popularly described as a global village. What happens in one corner of the village affects all of its dwellers. When we are able to see ourselves as citizens of that village we will be able to truly empathize with the poor folk living therein and work harder to address their needs. If we fail to think in this manner then we can rest assured that the problems of those suffering in one part of the village will eventually become our problems, especially in light of the fact that it is only through our exploitation of the fields, crops, cattle, and land of the poor on the outskirts of the village that allow us to live as comfortably as we do in the village center. Eventually, their silent suffering will become loud and angry, inevitably giving birth to violent discontent, rebellion, and resistance.

However, having said that, there are some matters here at home that we will have to address in a strictly American context, as this is an election for the American presidency. My opponents wish to place me on the defensive concerning a number of issues. Their efforts to do so are predicated on their poor opinion of you, the hard-working masses whose sacrifices and struggles are the stuff from which we will rebuild this country and help to create a more just world. Unlike them, I have a good opinion of you, and it is on the basis that opinion that I advance the positions I will now outline with so much confidence. Furthermore, because I have not received a single cent from political action committees, lobbyists, or corporations, bundled or unbundled, I can speak to you freely and openly, and I can advance policies I see as being solely in the national interest.

First of all, my opponents, their parties and the interests they represent promise to open up our coastal waters to off-shore oil drilling and exploration. They claim that this will bring relief from the high gasoline and heating oil prices that are wreaking havoc on your budgets and forcing you to make hard decisions such as choosing between warm homes in the winter or feeding your children to a level necessary to insure their healthy growth and general wellbeing. This promise made by my opponents is not only false, but it is disingenuous, for they know off-shore drilling will bring no relief to you in the foreseeable future, and that it will only reward the mendacious thieves whose greed has precipitated the crisis in oil and gasoline prices that are making you so anxious. It is a policy that will allow them to both expand the basis of their record earnings and profits, none of which are passed on to you, and to continue to avoid the moment of truth when they must admit that our current energy arrangements are not sustainable and we as a society must make a deep, irreversible commitment to clean alternative energy sources. As President, for the sake of future generations of Americans, and for the sake of the survival of this planet, I will lead this nation in making that commitment

You have to understand that the current high gasoline prices are not the result of scarcity, they are the result of the same type of wild speculation that has caused so many of you so much pain as you watch your homes being foreclosed in record numbers. That speculation in energy futures, coupled with unethical price gouging has led to record earnings and obscene profits in the oil industry. In 2007, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, and Conoco Phillips, four companies alone, registered profits of over $100 billion, with Exxon Mobil alone profiting to the tune of $40.6 billion. The sad truth, as I have mentioned, is not a penny of that profit was passed on to you, the consumer. You could be paying $2.50 a gallon for gasoline and the oil giants would still be making huge profits. If I am elected President, either you will be paying $2:50 a gallon for gas, or the oil giants will be paying windfall taxes that will allow every child to receive a quality education, every American without healthcare to receive a free comprehensive medical insurance plan, and billions of dollars of those profits will not only be going into alternative energy research, but to fund the immediate adoption of proven clean energy technologies.

My opponents, who have received lavish campaign contributions from the oil companies, will not talk straight to you about this issue. Instead, they throw a red herring like offshore drilling at you to create false hope for some immediate relief. To reiterate my position, I will never allow offshore oil drilling. Not only for the reasons I have just mentioned, namely it does not address the reasons for our high oil and gasoline prices, but also because our coastal beaches and wetlands are part of the natural heritage God has graced us with in this country, and I will work to preserve that heritage just as those great Americans who have preceded me have preserved it for the enjoyment of our generation. I would suggest that my opponents study the life of a great republican, Teddy Roosevelt, who had the vision to extend our network of national parks, and through visionary legislation, such as the National Antiquities Act, was able to preserve so much of the natural and historical sites and landmarks that serve as timeless reminders of who we are as a people.

Even as I speak, we see the damage that has been wrought by Hurricane Ike on the Texas coast. Parts of Galveston, Texas will be uninhabitable for the foreseeable future due in part to oil spills that have afflicted many parts of its island home. Much of that oil is a direct result of damaged offshore oil rigs, and spills from tankers and storage facilities. Again, my opponents refuse to talk about this. If they have their way, the coast of South Carolina would look like the Texas and Louisiana coasts, littered with hundreds if not thousands of offshore drilling platforms. Think of the fact that were it not for the reality of strong measures to protect our Atlantic and Pacific coasts, dating back to 1981, those platforms would have probably been built long ago and they would have been in the direct path of Hurricane Hugo, a monstrous storm far more powerful than Ike, when it slammed into the coast of South Carolina. Had the Carolina coast been scarred with those platforms at that time, it would have possibly precipitated an ecological disaster of unimaginable proportions. We cannot afford to sell our children’s birthright as cheaply as the price associated with a barrel of oil.

My opponents derisively refer to me as Mr. Green. I say to you my fellow Americans, it is better to green than mean, and when the future of our planet depends largely on the decisions we will make as a society and the types of policies we will pursue today, not at some far-off future date, I proudly accept the label. Not only will I work to extend the moratorium on off-shore oil drilling, within a week of taking office I will issue a moratorium on logging in all national forests and immediately grant protection to all old-growth forests in this nation. I will further work to restructure the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so that it will never again have the authority to engage in shameful actions such as overruling the initiative of California to raise the mile per gallon standards of all vehicles registered by the State. Such actions are antithetical to the Agency’s mission and make a mockery of the well-intended efforts of ordinary people who are trying to work through our existing institutions to effect meaningful change. Federal agencies should work for the people and not corrupt corporate interests and lobbyists. Furthermore, unlike one of my opponents, who wishes to complete the work of the current administration of gutting both the Clear Water and Clean Air Act, I will act to strengthen both.

My fellow citizens, the wild speculation that has wreaked havoc on our economy is not without cause. It is rooted in a financial system that allows for the creation of the illusion of wealth. Speculated home prices coupled with inflationary fiscal policies allowed many people to imagine that they had the purchasing power to buy a $600,000 home. However, as so many of our citizens are now finding out they had no real purchasing power and their homes were in reality worth far less than the prices they paid for them. The deceived home owners, who are forced to foreclose on homes sold to them with sub-prime, variable interest rate loans, are the victims of a corrupt, non-sustainable system. Again, my opponents want to reward the thieves who have reaped vulgar, obscene profits from that system by allowing them unethical tax shelters and immunity.

If elected President, not a single taxpayer’s dollar will be used to bailout the reckless, greedy, thieves whose profiteering, speculation, and swindling have created the mess we find ourselves in. These are the same people or their ilk that after creating the conditions for a bubble around bogus financial “instruments” in the 1980s, similar to the one created around the home mortgage industry, only to have that bubble burst also, raided the Savings and Loans industry, robbing it of its liquidity. That liquidity was in fact the hard-earned savings of your parents and grandparents. Not only were they robbed, but you are being forced to pay for the bailout of the industry that robbed them.

The half-measures being proposed to “fix” the problem are only unethical moves that saddle ours and future generations of Americans with huge amounts of unmanageable debt. Why is that? As I have mentioned above, one of the root causes of the current crisis is inflation. The solutions being proposed will only create more inflation. When the Federal Reserve Board or the Treasury announce that they are going to bail out the finance industry with $700 billion dollars, on top of the hundreds of billions they already spent to bail out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc., they do not have a pool of money that they are going to dip into to pay for these bailouts. How could they when our federal budget is deficit financed? They are going to essentially print more money, billions of dollars, in exchange for virtually worthless bonds. You and I are being forced to buy those bonds. The end result is more money being put into circulation, hence, in the long run, more inflation.

Instead of incomprehensible doublespeak trying to rationalize an untenable system, I will phase out the Federal Reserve System, and reinstate a gold standard. These are moves that will eliminate the main pillars of phantom economic prosperity and place this country back on the path to real wealth creation, and end the nefarious practices of those who have profited from a system that is predicated on the creation of an illusion of wealth, but has in reality fostered the conditions that have relegated a growing number of individuals to an expanding mass of impoverished, landless, 21st Century paupers.

My fellow citizens, if we are to contribute towards the meaningful solution to the daunting problems and challenges of the 21st Century, we will need an educated populace. Unfortunately, our current educational system is not working. It is controlled by an apparently incompetent national bureaucracy whose failures are evident across the length and width of this land. I trust the ability of our teachers to teach and the ability of our children to learn if they are unencumbered by the mandates of an out of touch and stultifying bureaucracy. If elected, that bureaucracy and similar ineffective governmental appendages will be eliminated. In light of the rapidly declining competitiveness of our students compared to their counterparts in many other countries, such a move could only be positive. Some of the money currently spent on that bureaucracy will be returned to the public in the form of lowered taxes and some of it will be spent directly on the schools and our dedicated teachers.

My opponents have questioned where the money will come from to fund some of my other admittedly ambitious programs. I answer directly with absolutely no equivocation: it will come from some of the money currently being consumed by a bloated military budget. Our country currently spends more on our military than all of the other nations on earth combined. Yet, for all of that spending, we apparently feel neither safe nor secure. One of the greatest sources of our insecurity, in the view of my opponents and their deluded neoconservative advisors, is Iran. Yet Iran, a nation with not a single nuclear weapon, a nation with no credible air force, a nation incapable of defeating the Iraqi army that we systematically decimated in less than a month during the Desert Storm operation of 1991, spends only $7.2 billion dollars annually on defense compared to our direct and indirect expenditure in excess of $1 trillion dollars. This huge disparity illustrates two points: First of all, we are in fact getting very little bang for our military buck, and secondly, military spending has very little to do with the creation of the conditions that actually engender security.

I will trim that inefficient budget by at least half. Part of the money saved will be passed on directly to every working citizen in this country in the form of greatly reduced federal income taxes; part of it will be used to assist the transition of workers displaced by the closing of military bases and defense contractors; part of it will be used to finance a Global Marshall Plan [1] that will be dedicated to sowing the seeds of peace and stability in failing or failed states, and part of it will be used to enhance the kind of police and intelligence work that has proven so effective in identifying, disrupting, and foiling terrorist networks and planned attacks.

The almost continuous series of wars this country has been engaged in for the past 40 years is good for no one. Here let me quote from one of the founding fathers of this nation, James Madison. He said, in 1795:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Indeed, no nation could preserve its freedom, and I might add its economic viability in the midst of continual warfare. America is no exception and I will work mightily to end the conditions that dictate a regime of permanent war in this country. This will require courage on the part of our citizenry, but I am confident that we are not a nation of cowards.

These are some of the general themes that will guide my foreign policy. In terms of some of the specifics, I will normalize relations with Cuba within 90 days of coming into office. With the demise of the former Soviet Union, the continued diplomatic and economic isolation of Cuba is senseless. I will further decommission the recently recommissioned Caribbean Fleet. The days of gunboat diplomacy, support for paramilitary terrorists and death squads, and treating the democratic nations of Central and South America as “banana republics” are over. Under my presidency, the United States will show as much respect for the democratic process in Latin America as its assembled leaders did when they recently met in Chile under the visionary leader Michelle Bachlette to express their support for the democratic process in Bolivia and that country’s embattled president, Evo Morales. Such a strong commitment to the democratic process by our hemispheric neighbors will be matched or exceeded by the United States under my administration.

These are policies that constitute a stark difference between what is advocated by my opponents in these particular areas. However, the most radical departure between me and my opponents lies in the area of the so-called “War on Terror.” Here I wish to speak forthrightly with you. I beg your indulgence and apologize if I am a bit lengthy in my comments around this point.

In recent days, surrogates of one of my opponents have been distributing, free of charge, a disturbing DVD entitled “Obsession.” This film attempts to portray the maniacal rants of a minuscule fringe of deluded Muslim fanatics as an existentialist threat to the United States that must be combated by the full might of the United States’ military and society. It tries to deceive you into believing that “Radical Islam” and “Islamo-Fascism” is the 21st Century equivalent of Hitler’s Germany. Both history and contemporary reality belie that claim. Nazi Germany was an industrialized state that had military means that rivaled or surpassed those of America. Had circumstances proved more favorable for the Germans, they could have well developed an atomic bomb before America. Similarly, under more fortuitous circumstances, Germany’s ballistic missile program, which produced the deadly V2 Rocket, and its fighter aircraft program, which introduced the Messerschmitt 262, the world’s first tactic jet fighter, could have given Germany a tactical advantage that could have turned the tide of the war in Hitler’s favor.

As a result of their combined military strength, combating the fascist threat of Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hirohito’s Japan would require the military service of 16.1 million American troops and cost 406,000 American lives. This is in addition to the sacrifices of the French, British, Russians, and Chinese, our allies in that struggle, which far exceeded those made by this nation. What has been the cost of containing the so-called “Islamo-Fascist” threat? First of all, there is only one real front in the so-called “War on Terror,” Afghanistan. There, the remnants of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the latter of which has not been implicated in a single terrorist act against the United States, have been held in check by 34,000 American troops currently on the ground, at a cost of 519 American lives, even though the conflict there has endured longer than World War Two. The number of troops committed, and the number of lives sacrificed, and the lack of any meaningful support from any of our allies gives you a clear indication of the true extent of the nature of the threat posed by Radical Islam.

Why is that? How could that be? First of all, neither the Taliban nor Al-Qaeda has a single state sponsor in the Muslim world. Secondly, the murderous ideology of “Islamic” terrorism is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims, and finally, as Lawrence Wright details in a brilliant article in the June 2nd edition of the New Yorker Magazine, the idea of terrorism is being increasingly rejected by many Jihadi groups within the very ranks of “Radical Islam.” In other words, the contrived justifications for the un-Islamic killing of innocent civilians are increasingly bankrupt among the world’s Muslims. The only reason that the Jihad movement has not been totally eclipsed in the Muslim world is due to the shortsighted, imperialistic, and belligerent nature of our policies. More specifically, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, anti-American resentment and resistance is increasing because of the growing number of civilians being killed by our raids and airstrikes.

Under my presidency, our policy in the region will not proceed on the premise that Radical Islam constitutes an existentialist threat to the United States or any of its allies. That being the case, I will call for an immediate cessation of military operations in Afghanistan and end all military strikes into Pakistan. I will call for the convening of a legitimate Afghan National Assembly (Loya Gerga) that will exclude all militia leaders and war lords who have been involved in identifiable crimes against humanity during the past thirty years of war in that country. Those leaders will be duly indicted an prosecuted by relevant international courts. That Loya Gerga will either affirm or rewrite the current Afghan constitution. Upon the conclusion of that assembly, the United States will assist the Afghan people in rebuilding a functional national bureaucracy, and in rebuilding the country’s civilian infrastructure. Upon the completion of those tasks, all American troops will be immediate withdrawn from the country.

As for Pakistan, as I have stated, I will call for an immediate cessation of all military operations that constitute a clear violation of Pakistani sovereignty. Our military and relevant civilian agencies will work to support the people of Pakistan through a “Marshall Plan” that will concentrate on building a viable economic and educational infrastructure in the Waziristan region, and other impoverished areas of that country. We will also foster an effort at political reconciliation in Pakistan through negotiations that bring all parties to the table as equals, including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and deposed Supreme Court Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudry. All American aid to Pakistan will be channeled through indigenous Pakistani NGOs and similar popular institutions. Not a penny will go to the corrupt feudal elite, nor to the military.

These efforts in both Afghanistan and Pakistan will be part of a wider strategy of real democratization in the Muslim world. This strategy will be based on a simple premise. Namely, the Muslim people are just as prepared and desirous for direct self-rule as any other people. As a nation under my leadership, we will aid and not thwart that desire. As is the case for Africa and Latin America, the days when the United States gives her unstinting support to dictators and autocrats is gone. If we support popular movements in the Muslim world, even if those movements are Islamic in nature, the people of the Muslim world will support us.

My opponents have asked, “How will this great transition be effected?” My answer is simple: we will withhold all support to any dictator who does not respect the popular will of his people by immediately beginning a process that culminates in free and open elections according to a viable time table. And we will provide every means of lawful political support to popular, pro-democracy movements.

As for Iraq, I will begin an immediate withdrawal of American troops from that country based on a time-line to be established by direct negotiations with the Iraqi government. That withdrawal will be accompanied by a “Marshall Plan” to complete outstanding development projects that were promised the Iraqi people as expeditiously as we have worked to complete the construction of our embassy and the network of military bases in the country. Those bases will be handed over to the Iraqi security forces and no permanent American garrison will remain on Iraqi soil.

As for those who say that our exit will open the door for the emergence of Al-Qaeda or similar organizations in Iraq, I say that the Iraqi people, who were so adept at resisting our occupation during 2005, 2006 and 2007, are more than capable of crushing an alien force that threatens to terrorize them and undermine their fledgling democracy. We will make every effort to work with all parties in Iraq, along with Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two principal sponsors of Shiite and Sunni sectarianism, respectively, and Turkey, to ensure that Iraq moves into the future as a stable and viable democracy.

Israel will be no exception to this policy of democratization in the region. I will call for either the creation of a single democratic state that includes Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, or the return of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Palestinian control within the pre-1967 borders, with the abandonment of all settlements and the partition wall in the West Bank. In either case, I will work with the countries of the region to rid it of all weapons of mass destruction. The particulars of this extremely sensitive and emotive issue are provided in a position paper I have writing on this issue. [2]

As for Africa, I will use every means available to reverse the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, an invasion that was facilitated by the current regime in Washington, which has undermined a popular movement that had brought a brief period of stability to that war-torn nation and created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. In Darfur, I will end all support and aid for both the government of Sudan, if it violates the terms of current ceasefire and peacekeeping arrangements, and take similar measures against all rebel groups that have refused to sign on to those agreements. I will commission aid, as needed, to be airlifted directly into Darfur, by-passing both the Sudanese government and the collection of rebel groups. In the Congo, I will commit American financial and military support to an African-led peacekeeping force, while working to strengthen indigenous state and nation-building agencies and indigenous humanitarian organizations and institutions. I will also put pressure on European nations, especially France, to reverse the disastrous effects of their political and economic policies in central Africa.

Concerning Russia, instead of the escalating provocations we are engaging in that threaten a return to the dangerous years of the Cold War, I will sit down with Russian leaders to discuss ways we can collectively enhance our joint security. During those discussions nothing will be off the table, including NATO membership for Russia. A resurgent Russia, not some fantasized Radical Islam constitutes the greatest threat to this country’s security and existence, and I will treat it as such.

Let me say to you clearly and forcefully, as President, I will end all extra-constitutional measures that have been instituted to prosecute the so-called War on Terror. I will immediately end all legal sanction for torture, and my first major act as President will be to close the American prison at Guantanamo Bay. As for the detainees being held there, those who have not been formally charged with any crime will be immediately released and compensated for their distress, while those who have been charged with crimes will be given access to competent legal counsel and scheduled to have their cases heard in civilian American courts. Never again will our country become a purveyor of lawlessness and terror in the name of combating lawlessness and terror.

While attempting to address threats abroad, I will also take firm measures to address a far larger war occurring right here in our inner cities. Since 2003, the year of our invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, gang warfare in our cities has each year claimed far more young African American and Latino lives than the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Some of our neighborhoods are less safe than Iraq’s infamous Sadr City. It is a shame that none of my opponents have even raised this issue. If we can institute an arms embargo that can successfully keep weapons out Bosnia, half-way around the world, then we can get guns out of our inner-city neighborhoods. Doing that will mean taking on the National Rifle Association (NRA) to change ineffective, ill-conceived gun control laws, and I am up for that fight. I will not allow the NRA to bully this country into an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that extends to private citizens rights meant for militias. Such a struggle will also mean the immediately revocation of the licenses of suburban gun stores whose inventories show missing weapons consistently ending up in the hands of thugs committing crimes in our inner-city neighborhoods. It will further mean stiffer penalties for those committing crimes with guns.

However, saying that does not mean I will be an advocate of traditional law and order, more police, more prisons domestic security measures. I will endeavor to cut this nation’s prison population in half during my first term. I will do that by re-sentencing low-level non-violent past drug offenders, and future offenders to either college or a national service corps. Those who successfully graduate will have their records wiped cleaned and will be free to move on in life as productive, educated citizens. I will also commit resources for the establishment of neighborhood recreation centers, job training programs, and community self-policing in our poorest neighborhoods. How will I pay for this? All of these measures cost far less than the cost of maintaining the gulag of prisons currently found in our nation. For every individual we release from prison we free up money to educate three or four. For every prison we close, we can afford to open up dozens of youth and community centers. Finally, I will end all privatized prisons. When prisons are private corporate entities, they have a vested interest in insuring there is a steady supply of prisoners. It is good for business. They similarly have a vested interest in minimizing their services as any services they may provide cut into their profits. Hence, private corporations should not in the business of running our penal institutions.

In the areas of both foreign and domestic policy these are bold and far-reaching proposals. However, our country and our world demand no less. I place my trust in God and in you, the great people of this nation, to join me in taking the bold actions we need to take, as a nation, to provide real hope and the prospect of real change for the people of this country and the world. One of my opponents wants to use the politics of fear that have proven so successful in the electoral campaigns of the current president to lead you to endorse a third term of the disastrous policies of the current administration. I prefer the politics of courage, moral and political courage. I have cited a great republican, Teddy Roosevelt earlier in this speech, I will now quote the words of a great democrat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. At the height of the Great Depression, and the uncertainties of the inter-war period, he addressed an apprehensive American public and proclaimed as he assumed the presidency, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” At this new defining moment in our national history, it is incumbent upon all of us to rise above our fears, for cowards will only prove to be the dupes and minions of demagogues, while men and women of courage and vision will help to heal and reshape the world.

Allow me to remind you with the words of another great American, Abigail Adams, who wrote to her twelve-year-old son, John Quincy Adams, at the height of the Revolutionary War, in 1780:

These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. Would Cicero have shone so distinguished an orator if he had not been roused, kindled, and inflamed by the tyranny of Catiline, Verres, and Mark Anthony? The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. All history will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruit of experience, not the lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities, which would otherwise lie dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.

Let us all rise in response to the tyranny and difficulties of our time to be heroes possessed of great minds and virtues. In conclusion, as the challenges we face and the difficulties we must contend with extend far beyond our shores, I do not say God bless America. My fervent prayer is that God will bless this world. Good night.

Note: Since I stand no chance of winning, if you like my platform, consider the two major party candidates and whichever more closely reflects my positions, give him your wholehearted support.

[1] The idea of a Global Marshall Plan is the centerpiece of the foreign policy vision of Rabbi Michael Lerner and the Network of Spiritual Progressives ( The possibility of the idea moving into the realm of public policy recently received a huge boost when Congressman Keith Ellison, and others, introduced House Resolution 1078 which calls for the adoption of such a Plan.

[2] This article has been edited to exclude a brief discussion of the 9/11 events. The reason for this is that the issues surrounding that situation and the depth of the discussion needed to properly discuss it are so involved that they merit a separate article, which I promise to write as soon as Ramadan is over. To leave the discussion of the issue in the form it originally appeared in here does not do the issue justice. God knows best.