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Dear Candidates: An Open Letter to Democrats and Republicans Aspiring for the Presidency in 2016

The recent announcements that Senator Hillary Clinton, Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, along with Governor Scott Walker are all running for President in 2016 are the context for this special letter. Even though their particular positions vary widely – especially between Clinton and the rest, I address these thoughts to all of them as a concerned American and one who cares for the world. I welcome civil debate as we gear up for months of campaigning – with our nation’s future in the balance.

This letter is written in the manner of Socrates – a series of questions that imply particular concerns and positions, but compel clarity on the issues.

Dear Candidate(s),

Thank you for having the courage to run for this office. Others might cynically say that you are all supreme egoists for thinking you can do the job. Time will tell the proportions of altruism and ego, principle and pragmatism in your ideas and policies. The job of President of the USA is the most powerful and stressful job in the world. In 1839 Alexis de Tocqueville declared that the best persons do not run for President because of the compromises involved in getting elected! I hope such is not the case with any of you.

Here are my questions:

  • What is your vision of a healthy, prosperous nation? What key ideals are guiding your policy proposals? How can you inspire hope and sacrifice among a cynical and disengaged electorate suspicious of all politicians?
  • What is your sense of America’s uniqueness and her humble and wise partnerships with other nations?
  • What is your understanding of the “separation of powers” in the US Constitution and your interpretation of Amendments 9 and 10 that limit the federal government and place ultimate sovereignty in the hands of the people of our nation? What are your boundaries on Executive Orders? How will you be accountable to Congress? Recent history in both parties makes this a vital issue for our future.
  • Will you stand for Israel’s right to exist as a recognized Jewish State and freedom of conscience and religion around the world? Put another way, will you challenge Islamic states to open their societies and treat women and minorities with dignity?
  • Will you be completely pro-life and defend unborn children, the aged and the physically and mentally challenged?
  • How will you reform Social Security and Medicare so that they are protected for the needy and administrated justly?
  • Will you begin a new conversation on medical care and articulate what facets should be local, state and federal and what should be in the hands of the people? How will you assure compassionate delivery of quality medical services without an impersonal Leviathan of government bureaucracy?
  • How will you move us toward a balanced federal budget, a just tax system and reduction in the size of the federal government?
  • What is the government’s role in the economy and how will your policies helps millions find sustainable work?
  • How will you help our nation welcome millions of legal immigrants that desire hope and opportunity while screening for terrorist and welfare cheats?
  • How will you restore America’s global leadership role? How can we help lead the world away form the hegemonic agendas of China and Russia, as well as the threats of a nuclear Iran and her terrorist clients?
  • How will you position the USA at the United Nations? Are you comfortable with UN control over any territory in the USA and global courts attempting to trump our national ones?
  • What current federal structures will you decentralize or eliminate? How large a role should Washington, D.C. have in public education, the administration of welfare and food distribution and provision for other needs?
  • What is your transparent communications strategy? Will your Administration be open (apart from critical personnel or national security issues) or as opaque as the last 80 months? Can we find out about the influences in your upbringing and the educators and mentors that have shaped you into the woman or man you are today?
  • Will you stand for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, while allowing for other arrangements that afford partners legal recognition?

Candidates, I sincerely pray that you will humbly depend upon the Almighty, listen to all the people (not just the big donors) and articulate your values and vision well. Please help us reverse a half-century of moral decline, forty years of political polarization and a generation of economic mismanagement and deception.

A nation is listening.

Vision 2016 Part 2: First Principles

As we continue this important series, it is vital that we agree on and understand the principles that support and shape our nation’s flourishing. Policies and programs, including necessary political compromises are built on particular conscious and unconscious values. Here are some of the key ideas for our nations future.

We the People unite in creating an America where…

  • Freedom of conscience and religion is protected as the first freedom and the deepest values of our citizens inform civil debate.
  • Life is cherished from conception to its natural end and no active measures are adopted to prematurely end it.
  • The freedoms of peaceable assembly, the redress of government and speech must be protected not restricted and the marketplace of ideas unhindered by bureaucratic notions of “fairness.”
  • Moral persuasion is as influential as public legislation.
  • Our natural rights are protected – not bestowed – by the government.
  • Government is subsidiary to the person, family, community, religious group and other voluntary agencies. In other words, sovereignty and support structures first rest with the people, not the federal government.
  • The Constitutional balance of power matters and all legislation gets to the floor for public debate by elected leaders and citizens.
  • Access to education, business markets and other opportunities are not stifled by corrupt business and political powers.
  • Equality of opportunity is not necessarily of equality of outcome.
  • Cultural, gender and racial diversity are celebrated along with unity on the guiding first principles of liberty, virtue and the common good.
  • Marriage is defined as one man and one woman, with legal allowance (state-by-state) for other approved adult relationships such as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Marriage so defined is one of the empirical cornerstones of future success for the next generation.
  • Citizens must show an official ID from their state and prove their residential status in order to cast a ballot. ID cards should be offered to qualified persons without charge. No votes cast by non-citizens count in any elections.
  • Disagreements do not devolve into personal attacks and caricatures and stereotypes do not obscure issues worthy of serious reflection.
  • History and hope meet and Americans can cherish their heritage and humbly resolve not to repeat her egregious errors. We live in a land of saints and sinners, humble servants and rapacious overlords, amazing sacrifice and regrettable indulgence.

With these first principles in mind, the coming posts will consider domestic and foreign policies that will bless both our nation’s residents and liberty-loving people around the world.

Vision 2016 Part I: Foundations for Our Future

A Time for Reflection
For half a century, America has been at a civil crossroads. Will the founders’ experiment in virtue-based liberty continue or will it be replaced by disempowering ideologies? Will American “first principles” of freedom of conscience/religion, assembly, redress and speech remain robust, or will political correctness stifle the full exchange of ideas? Will government return to its subsidiary role of protecting natural rights or continue the one hundred year trajectory of bestowing rights as largess from a Leviathan?

Will a civil center be recaptured so people of all faiths and philosophies argue peaceably, allowing their deepest convictions to guide them, or will elite secularists force free discourse underground? Will citizenship and the rule of law mean something or will pseudo-compassionate amnesty programs overwhelm labor markets and foster a one-party state?

Thinking further, will historic guilt lead to unwise capitulation to neo-racist supremacists or will Martin Luther King’s dream of “all God’s children” living together with equality and justice reassert itself? Will Americans shed their racial bias and welcome as friends all cultures and races? Will life from conception to coronation find protection or will social engineers dehumanize “unneeded” persons under the guise of economics, science or social good?

Globally, will the USA support its ally and the only democracy in the Middle East or capitulate to jihadists bent on Israel’s destruction? Will America stand with all people of conscience facing persecution or continue the present trajectory of submission to Islamicist supremacy?

The compelling issue for America’s future is a vision of the common good that will catalyze citizens to create a better future.

Forging a flourishing future requires devotion and discipline, inspiration and integrity, passion and principle as well as policies that work. I offer the following as a way of inspiring all people of conscience to contribute to their communities, our nation and world.

What is Vision?

Vision = a picture of a preferred and achievable future.

Vision = a pathway toward flourishing for all.

Vision = life between fantasy and fatalism, requiring faith and work.

Vision = offers hope that empowers present sacrifice for future generations.

What follows in the coming weeks are principled and practical aims designed to appeal to people committed to the common good; people that understand that liberty is rooted in virtue and self-regulation is essential for maximal freedom. I look forward to a great conversation.