1.Do you consider the increased concentration of economic wealth in the United States to be corrosive to our democracy? If yes, how should this issue be addressed? If not, why not?
5. Let’s assume that something called “class warfare” exists. If so, who has been winning? For how long? And in whose interest is it to continue the war?
I’ll answer these together because I believe the concentration of wealth referred to in question one is the result of the class warfare referred to in question five. The US has the greatest income inequality of any major developed nation. The gap between the extremely wealthy and the rest of the population continues to widen, and the recent federal tax changes will only exacerbate these conditions. This is not the result of some “natural” economic evolution, but rather of strategic policy decisions.
Yes, this is corrosive to our democracy. As the income/wealth gap grows, so does the gap between the self-interests of the classes. Regressive public policy helped create this condition, and progressive public policies can help correct it. Unfortunately, given the role of money in our current political process, this will likely prove very difficult, but we must try.
2. What are your thoughts on social democracy?
I do believe it is government’s role and responsibility to promote social justice.
3. Racial discrimination continues to plague our nation. This is evident in our workforce (hiring practices, income disparities, opportunities for advancement, etc…), in the administration of our criminal justice system, in systemic efforts to disenfranchise voters based on race, in the relative dearth of substantive environmental protections for communities where people of color constitute a large percentage of the population, and in other facets of American life. What steps can and should be taken to address these issues?
Our country has operated under a complex system of legal and cultural mechanisms designed to promote and preserve white supremacy since its founding. Closing the opportunity gap is a real challenge in the face of generations of systematic oppression. I think it is important to consider all policy decisions through a lens of racial justice and proactively look for opportunities to begin correcting disparities.
I know this is only a small piece of a very complex puzzle, but just as a quick example, I was pleased to learn about House Bill 512, which would prohibit employers from requesting salary history during the hiring process. Passage of this bill would help to level the playing field since minorities and women have historically been paid less, and this disparity is further perpetuated when job offers are based on salary history.
4. Thinking about the principles of liberty and equality, and this can apply to any given challenge (fiscal, social, etc…), how can they both be promoted to ensure that the “unalienable rights” of all Americans are protected?
In light of the previous questions, I think it is important to note that the ideal of equality must be based on equity. I also believe that negative and positive liberties need to be held in balance.
6. Considering the UN’s sustainable development goals which refer to gender equality as a “fundamental human right,” how is America performing when it comes to promoting gender equality and what specific steps can and should be taken to secure true gender equality in the United States?
We still have a lot of work to do to secure true gender equality…politically, economically, and culturally. I’ll mention reproductive freedom as one important issue and (as a nice call-back to question #4) highlight that reproductive freedom is not enough without access to reproductive healthcare. Pay equity is another significant issue, as is recognizing that women’s reproductive lives cost more than men’s.
7. Many LGBTQIA Americans have expressed concerns that the current Administration (and those who view the world similarly) are dedicated to rolling back recent legal protections fought for, and recognized, in this country. What steps can and should be taken to safeguard the rights of LGBTQIA citizens to participate fully in the “pursuit of happiness” stated in our Declaration of Independence?
I share this concern about efforts to roll back the progress we’ve made. We need to continue the fight in the legal/political arena and stand up as allies in our personal, professional, and social contexts.