Howard Questionnaire

 

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?

I do not think it is corrosive to our democracy, but I do think that (a) it is evidence of corrosion of our democracy and it is (b) corrosive to our society.  Our society stands a threshold point where the widening gap between the haves and have-nots can either spin out of control or can be brought under control, again, through greater taxes on higher incomes and on large estates.

2. What are your thoughts on social democracy?

I’m a Third Way Democrat.  However, the societies built in the Nordic countries, predominately on social democracy, can be a model of what we should be moving toward.  

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 should have stronger civil rights laws designed to protect policies to encourage social, economic, and political participation by everyone.  Striking down, for instance, the Voting Rights Act, based in part, on the idea that was no longer necessary is disingenuous, not because it is still necessary, but because it is purely a political decision, not a legal decision.  We can make similar statements about other recent rollbacks of Civil Rights-era laws.

These laws must be strengthened and designed, at their core, to protect everyone, regardless of race, gender or other characteristics. 

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?

See my response to Question 3 and note that I firmly believe it is a core governmental role to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to advance and equal protection when they fail.

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?  

The premise is flawed, and it is not possible to answer these questions. 

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?

Right now, we don’t even have the basics together.  For instance, today, I had to remind someone that children as young 15 can get married in Maryland.  It’s not boys expected to get married, and this section tells all, when it says 15-year-olds can get married if:

(2)  either party to be married gives the clerk a certificate from a licensed physician, licensed physician assistant, or certified nurse practitioner stating that the physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner has examined the woman to be married and has found that she is pregnant or has given birth to a child.

It’s not common, but that doesn’t change the fact that like other civil rights issues, there isn’t a single switch to throw and fix everything.  The entire system is rigged, little-by-little.  We have to find each of these occurrences and systematically eliminate them.

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? 

The good news is that Maryland is holding firm against the tide, even with a Republican governor.  But more can be done.  Especially, ensuring not only that LGBTQIA have access to the same resources as anyone else, but also that enforcement occurs when someone is denied access.  Historically, the enforcement mechanisms are weak, subject to substantial review, and expensive for the victim.  We must address the enforcement piece before creating new hurdles.  That is, we can’t give up on the existing solution when it really hasn’t been tried.