Sunday, February 28, 2010

Question Time

What is your political philosophy?

I'm a political centrist on the Nolan chart. I'm neither a statist nor fully libertarian in my philosophy. The terms "conservative" and "liberal" have lost nearly all meaning to me in modern political discourse since most people who apply those labels to themselves can't reconcile their rhetoric with the very meanings of those words. I have given up on political parties as I fear that George Washington's warnings about the dangers of political factions have become a reality.

"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty." -George Washington, 1796

How do you interpret the Constitution?

While I have read the document, I have not gone through it line by line interpreting every article, section and clause. As matters of Constitutional importance come up, I do feel it is important to turn to history and understand the context in which the Constitution was originally written. There are some clauses that stand up better to the tests of time than others, such as the Bill of Rights. There are also sections of the Constitution that have been completely ignored in public discourse and in the passage of federal laws, such as Public Law 62-5 which limits the number of Congressmen in the House of Representatives to a completely arbitrary 435. The United State Constitution makes it clear that "The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand..." With a population greater than 300 Million souls, the United States House of Representatives should be seating over 10,000 Congressmen. Utah alone should be represented by 91 delegates to the House instead of only three. This law, nearly 100 years old, has undermined that document to near-catastrophic ends and yet has been largely unchallenged. The only legal way to change the number of Representatives in the House is through a Constitutional amendment but Congress itself has bypassed this process illegally and hardly anyone is even aware of it.

The question of whether or not the Constitution is a "living" document I think is answered by the fact that it includes within its articles, instructions on how it can be changed.

What are your views on what constitutes a just war?

War should always be avoided and used only as a last resort in response to a direct attack on our nation by another nation-state and in response to a similar attack on an ally as defined by a specific international treaty such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Unfortunately, since World War Two, this definition has rarely been met in our conflicts with other countries. The two most recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been a mixed bag. I feel that the war in Iraq is illegal and we should never have entered into it. I felt that there was legal justification for the war in Afghanistan, which was entered into with support from NATO under Article 5 of that treaty. Unfortunately, the political priorities of the previous administration crippled our efforts in Afghanistan because the war that the Bush administration really wanted was with Iraq which had more to do, in my view, with a vendetta against Saddam Hussein by George W. Bush than any supposed threat posed to the U.S. by the nation of Iraq. At this point I think that our military presence in both Afghanistan and Iraq should come to an end as quickly as possible. The situation in Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan may be better suited to more clandestine tactics and operations carried out by special forces.

How do you feel about United States foreign policy?

The last eight and a half years have largely been an embarrassment. The United States has only recently begun to regain its moral standing in the world after the horrendous actions and consequences of the previous administration's "cowboy" diplomacy. While I do not support a policy of political and economic isolationism by any means, I do think the time has long past when we should have started to rethink our priorities as a nation both militarily and economically.

Do we need military bases in foreign nations anymore? How much of the deterrence afforded us by land-based military facilities can just as effectively be maintained through the use of aircraft carrier battle groups? I think this question should be asked on a case by case basis in regard to our foreign military presence. Some military facilities may be more easily replaced than others by Naval forces keeping our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines out of harms way until absolutely necessary.

On the economic front, our nation has allowed itself to be spoiled by a combination of unfettered greed and the desire to get "the best deal possible" on goods and services and the global economy has been more than willing to accommodate us. Unfortunately, our pursuit of these deals has lead to the decimation, to put it mildly, of our own economy and our ability as a nation to produce goods and services for ourselves. Again, I do not advocate an isolationist view but something must be done for our nation to regain its economic independence for the good of our population. Moving away from a model that relies on consumption for 70% of our economy would be a good start. This can be accomplished through a number of steps like tariffs on imported goods, incentivizing the retention of domestic production capacity and investing heavily in raising our education standards.

What do you consider to be the natural rights of man concerning life, liberty and property?

I think no other document than the Bill of Rights can more eloquently answer that question.

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