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?
YES. We must continue to dismantle the systemic, institutional, statutory and legacy structures at its core and which have facilitated and perpetuate its growth.
2. What are your thoughts on social democracy?
To the extent that social democracy acknowledges that existing systems which inexorably link democracy and capitalism have failed to promote economic or social justice, I support its goals. There are elements of the theory and practices with which I agree and disagree, as there are with other progressive ideologies including democratic socialism, socialism and capitalism so I am not a strict adherent of any of them.
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?
We have to call out racial (and other areas of) discrimination whenever and wherever it exists, apply an equity lens to analysis of policy and legislation – rejecting or correcting it when equity is not present, and stop avoiding our long standing, classist and racist history and the difficult conversations about it.
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?
We have to be intentional in developing and implementing policy to avoid reinforcing or recreating the institutional practices that favor a select (“privileged”) group and their interest over the shared interest of all. In other words, we need to actualize equity, access and opportunity over equality, which errs in its assumption that that the playing field is flat and the game fair.
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?
Class warfare exists and, for the most part, has existed throughout the history of civilization in ostensibly all or nearly all nations. Although it seems as the oligarchs, privileged and powerful are ahead, the fact that class “war” in ongoing, suggest that no side has one and, in fact, everyone is losing. We all get what we settle for; so as long as we refuse to settle, the struggle will continue.
“We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Déjà vu?)
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?
The struggle continues, some progress is seen and willful ignorance is becoming more difficult to accept. We are only barely ahead of the nations whom we criticize for their paternalistic and oppressive treatment of women, but the fact or your asking the question and of me, a women, being free to answer is meaningful.
Society must accept that we have not gotten it right and have much to atone for. Men have to accept that they continue to benefit from policies which devalue and victimize women and girls and must step up, stand up and hold one another accountable. Women have to acknowledge our complicity and stop looking to be taken care of. We all have to commit to insisting on change on all fronts, in our attitudes, action, policies, social constructs and rules of engagement.
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?
At this time, in the current political climate, we need to focus efforts on assuring no erosion of the gains made, while also fighting deceptive efforts to “protect” norms or individuals by mischaracterizing threats and misstating facts to promote discriminatory attitudes and practices, as seen with such efforts as the “bathroom bills”.