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The Candidates 2012

The Candidates and Domestic Policy 2012 - Page 2


Drugs

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: illicit drugs are bad, and I do not advocate their recreational usage by anyone. With that disclaimed, the War on Drugs has done an incredible amount of damage to this country that is perfectly obvious to anyone willing to apply the lessons this country learned from alcohol prohibition in the early 20th Century. We need to take a less severe approach to illicit drugs, choosing harm reduction strategies over federal raids on California marijuana clinics, decriminilization over a ludicrously overtaxed legal and prison system, and compassionate intervention over government-funded propaganda. An arms reduction in the War on Drugs would save this country hundreds of billions of dollars, would do more to curb drug use than the current model, would make recreational drugs safer and more well-regulated, would reinforce the principles of liberty that this nation was founded upon, and would take away a powerful tool of many less-than-friendly foreign countries that currently make incredible amounts of money importing illegal drugs. My ideal candidate would talk about walking away from international drug laws, pushing for the repeal of our most draconian drug laws, and immediately calling off the federal attack dogs that prevent many states from making their own choices.

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Even the empty chair guy wants you to say "No"
This issue isn't even on Mitt Romney's radar, apparently, and the Republican platform avoids the topic almost entirely. The only line I can find about it is in a section on "Justice for All" that talks about supporting "mandatory prison sentences for...repeat drug dealers" [5]. Given the history of the GOP when it comes to drug enforcement, and judging by the significant dearth of information about the topic on Romney's website and the GOP party platform, it seems unlikely in the extreme that a Romney administration would do anything to downsize the War on Drugs.

The Obama campaign and Democratic party platform are similarly lacking in any cues that tip off how the Obama administration would handle this issue in the next four years. The platform's only references to drugs involve bragging about how the Obama administration has increased customs seizures of "counterfeit drugs" and how the Democratic Party will continue to push for tough enforcement of international smuggling [6]. In the last four years, the president has made a few small attempts to scale back the War on Drugs--mostly found in the minitiae of his failed budget proposals--but he has refused to take a strong public stance against it. He has said, "We're not going to legalize weed any time soon" [7].


Immigration

Immigration is one of the few governmental issues that I believe belongs in federal hands. It is absolutely essential that our government keeps our borders simultaneously open and secure, ensuring that anyone who wants to realize the American dream is free to do so but that people who only want to come here to cause trouble are kept out. It is far too difficult and expensive to immigrate legally, and it is far too easy to get here illegally and exploit the system. I don't believe one half of this equation is somehow more important than the other, which puts me at odds with both major parties. My ideal president would be unafraid to stand up to his or her own party as well as the opposing party to ensure that we finally have an immigration system that is no longer hopelessly trapped in pointless partisan gridlock.

The Libertarian Perspective

Gary Johnson proudly supports drastic changes to the federal approach to education, putting standards and choices in the hands of families and states instead of the federal government. He also wants to immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act, letting states take full control over Medicaid, and reducing federal intervention in the healthcare system to simple block grants. He is also an enthusiastic advocate for drug policy reform, ending the War on Drugs, and treating the drug problem in this country as a health and education problem instead of a crime. Finally, Johnson is eager to streamline and simplify our immigration system, making work visas easier to attain and offering a two-year grace period for illegal immigrants to get them, while simultaneously enforcing a "one strike, you're out" policy for illegal immigrants who try to circumvent the legal process.

thumbs upI have a few slight qualms with his approach to immigration, but I otherwise completely agree with the Libertarian candidate, far better than I do with Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. If domestic policy were the only relevant issue, I would, once again, check the box for Gary Johnson.
Romney's website talks about the importance of legal immigration, but the only specifics it offers are Romney's plans to "make the temporary worker visa system functional," "cut red tape that is keeping immediate families apart," and create a path for immigrants to be legalized through "honorable military service" [8]. The rest is devoted to discouraging illegal immigration through a completion of the border fence, an increase in "officers on the ground," a rehauled exit verification system, a mandatory employee immigration verification system, and eliminating so-called "magnets" like tuition benefits for illegal immigrants.

Shockingly, the Obama website doesn't have a section devoted to immigration, and a search for "immigration" within the site comes up with zero results. Obama made comprehensive immigration reform a major priority in his 2008 campaign, but has been unable to make much headway during the last four years. The only action he has taken is to block controversial legislation in states (most notably Arizona) that have tried to take a pro-active and partially unconstitutional approach to immigration in defiance of federal inaction. The administration did attempt to push the DREAM Act through Congress, but failed to garner the bipartisan support it needed. So, in the absence of more information, I have to turn to the Democratic Party Platform, which talks about the importance of improving legal immigration, argues that the Obama administration has made the borders more secure than they've been in 40 years, and then goes on the blame Republicans for all our immigration woes.


My Choice if Domestic Policy Were the Only Relevant Issue

Romney thumbs up
The Candidates and Domestic Policy
thumbs down Obama
When it comes to education and healthcare, it comes as no big surprise that I am more aligned with Mitt Romney's stated views than President Obama's. I think greater choice and market competition is far more effective--both in improving quality and quantity--than more government spending and mandates. However, when it comes to the War on Drugs, I would recoil at voting for Mitt Romney due to his reluctance to address the issue and the hardline stance his party has taken for several decades now. Barack Obama certainly doesn't hit it out of the park either, but his tiny, ineffective steps in the right direction is better than taking no steps whatsoever. On immigration, as I expected, I do not agree with either candidate. I don't want to vote for anyone who believes a border fence makes effective immigration policy, nor do I want to vote for somebody who has only acted to prevent other people from acting and who thinks executive orders are better than bipartisan legislation.

If Domestic Policy were the only relevant issue, I would vote for Romney, but I wouldn't be completely happy about it. He gets quite a few things wrong, but he is, in my estimation, the lesser of two evils, simply because when it comes to education and healthcare, he chooses free market capitalism over bureaucratic central planning. Healthcare, in particular, is an incredibly important issue, and would be strongly decisive in the case of a tie. I abhor the Affordable Care Act--I think it's a huge leap in the wrong direction--and I would be happy to vote for anybody who has made repealing it a cornerstone of his or her campaign.

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-e. magill 9/11/2012










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