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I believe that former Congressman Collin Peterson had the right sort of ideas when it came to a balanced agriculture policy. I support allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp and (eventually) even marijuana. I also tend to want to farmers to sell their crops in the free marketplace to any nation (that respects basic human rights).
I believe that the 2nd Amendment protects State's rights to a well-regulated militia (what we now call the national guard) AND a personal right to own a gun. No right is absolute, even the First Amendment has permitted restrictions, but responsible, law-abiding gun owners should not be demonized or attacked.
I discuss my views on abortion through several published letters to the editor. I have my share of objections to the abortion industry, as well as the objections to the so-called 'pro-life' movement. I tend to be leery of criminalization of abortion (with some exceptions) as unlikely to effectively protect life. I also think that much more can be done to reduce unplanned pregnancies (comprehensive sexuality education/family planning services) and that life will never be sacred as long as certain inequalities prevail within the society. I had tossed around the idea of having all abortion law decided -- at the State level -- through an Initiative and Referendum process, as something of a pragmatic compromise.
I believe that in a free and open society, citizens have the right to determine for themselves the sex that that they wish to date, marry and live as. The government should not discriminate on the basis of sexual or gender identity (aka real or perceived sexual orientation). I also generally support equal opportunity rules in the private sector, provided that exemptions are made to protect religious freedom and certain basic associative rights. I generally believe that actual transsexuals and hermaphrodites should be able to play on the bathroom/sports team that they like, but that simply being a cross-dresser or "transgender" does not warrant such accommodations.
I like getting my news from a wide range of different sources, i.e. NPR/MPR, HuffPost, Reason Magazine, Mother Jones Magazine, the Guardian (UK), the Economist Magazine (UK), Wall Street Journal, the Fargo Forum/FCC, etc.
In high school (circa 1996/1997) I read a fascinating book about victimless or consensual crimes called, Aint Nobodys Business If You Do by Peter McWilliams. He makes a compelling case for the legalization (taxation and regulation) of these crimes, which I now feel is a bit of a naive oversimplification to rather complex social ills.
Having said that I do believe that adults (21+) should be able to use marijuana in a responsible manner without criminal penalties. I also think that the current war on drugs and prohibition on thinks like adult prostitution do not work and that we need to find alternative ways of addressing these social ills.
I feel that systematic/institutional racism does exist -- a disagreement with the far right -- but I also feel that we have made tremendous progress in combating racism through education and legislation -- a disagreement with the far left. Instead of getting rid of affirmative action entirely, I would like to see more emphasis placed on economic class-based disadvantages.
I believe that the First Amendment protects -- among other things -- a fundamental right of all citizens to choose their own religious or sectarian beliefs without discrimination from the government (my disagreement with the far left). I also believe in the legal separation between religion and government (my disagreement with the far right). In some situations, religious freedom and basic associative rights do include a right to engage in certain forms of discrimination.
For example, A church -- or any house of worship -- should be free to discriminate within its own entity on the basis of its sincerely held religious beliefs. This extends -- somewhat -- to faith based private schools or adoption agencies.
In terms of associative rights, I reject the libertarian standard that views all civil rights legislation (that applies to the private sector as being unconstitutional). However, I support the right of private, voluntary clubs -- i.e. a political party or an interest group or something like the Boy Scouts of America to determine its own membership rules.
I believe that access to health care is a human right, and that the current public-private model is the right one, although some changes are needed.
I believe that the U.S. should continue its friendly relationship with the State of Israel. I believe that Israel has a right to exist and defend itself. I also support equal rights for minorities (i.e. Arab, disabled, LGBTQ) in Israel and the peace process.
I am in favor of school choice, as well as making home schooling an option.
I believe that public health policies ought to be based on the science, as opposed to what is politically correct for the far left or the far right.
I believe that all human lives matter. I also believe that we need to hold people accountable for their actions (including members of law enforcement) and that we need a serious discussion about criminal justice reform (especially the war on drugs). Let's us be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.
Yes, I did. I wanted to create an electoral coalition (local students, people of color, poor people, disabled people and the LGBT community) behind civil rights, affordable housing and criminal justice reform.
I grew up in a family that was Republican, and in a community (Dhahran) where most of my American peers were Republicans. I voted for George Bush in a mock, 1992 presidential election that my school held.
To this day, I do hold many views that would lend people to think that I am a Republican.
I am opposed to Communism and support a strong military, personal freedom, limited government, free elections, free markets and truly believe that America is the greatest nation on earth.
Yet, it should be noted that I grew up in a community that was multi-cultural, but pretty sheltered about certain social inequalities. All our parents were middle-class (if not upper-middle class) and we took for granted good, safe schools, safe neighborhoods, free health care, low-cost dentistry and paid vacation.
I also had some problems with where the Republican Party was heading, especially after I watched Patrick Buchanan give his infamous 1992 convention speech where he talked about a 'culture war'. Having grown in in a society where religion and government mixed, I knew full well that was not something that I wanted to see in America.
When I went to boarding school in Colorado, I discovered Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Party. I read books by Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Peter McWilliams, Harry Browne, David Boaz, etc. I signed up to get the local Libertarian Party newsletter for a year, maybe two and I also started to study the American electoral system and the unfair treatment often handed out to third-party candidates.
Yet, the more that I learned about Ayn Rand's philosophy and the platform of the Libertarian Party, the less I liked. Too much anarchy and a survival of the fittest mentality.
Living in Colorado was perhaps the first time in my life that I saw serious social ills in America. While it was a private, boarding school I could still see that lots of people did not have access to health care, much less dentistry. Lots of people did not attend safe schools or live in safe, multi-cultural communities. These were just some of the serious social ills that I felt Ayn Rand and the libertarians were not equipped to handle because of their ideology.
So, in college I became an Independent and while the Moorhead City elections are nonpartisan, if I had to declare a label, I would have identified as being an Independent with some civil libertarian leanings.
I felt that the Republican Party had moved too far to the right, the Libertarian party was also too extreme (I never really saw the Green Party as a serious party, although the Greens that I met were mostly nice people) and I wanted to have an effective voice in advancing my ideas. Thus, I started to become more active in the Democratic Farmer Labor Party, starting with the MSUM College Democrats (which I had to rebuild after the huge financial mess its previous president had left it in.)
My independent streak has not gone away as I still support electoral law reforms and speak out about issues that I care about, even if they I not backed by the Democratic Party leadership (or the more leftist wing of the party). Likewise, I am not afraid to agree with Republicans or third-party supporters on certain issues.
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