Social Justice – Equal Rights For All
Now, more than ever, in order to sustain our democratic ideals and our promise of a country, within which everyone might flourish, all members of our society must be guaranteed their constitutionally protected rights. It is unacceptable that any among us live in fear of institutionalized repression and discrimination, based on our race, ethnicity, gender, sexual alignment or other distinctions. As your U.S. Senator, I will not accept that.
I recognize that social injustice has its roots in economic injustice, and will act to reform our economic model into one that intrinsically values the well-being of our families, our children and our society at large, so it supports and sustains all of our people above a baseline standard of living.
Efforts to eradicate racism and discrimination in this country have succeeded to a degree, but as the last Presidential campaign demonstrated, we only have to scratch the surface to find deep streaks of hatred festering beneath. I will support legislation to strengthen civil liberties, including a new Equal Rights Amendment confirming that “equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other sex-based distinction.”
While it is true that women’s rights are recognized to a greater extent today than they were in 1923, when the ERA was first introduced in Congress by Alice Paul, the hard-won laws countering sex discrimination do not have unequivocal foundation in the constitution, and as such, can be inconsistently enforced or even repealed by a simple majority vote.
Therefore, a federal Equal Rights Amendment remains an urgent goal, necessary to provide state legislatures with the constitutional basis for aligning state laws with this fundamental principle, that we are all created equal, men and women.
It will always be important to protect all of our civil rights through appropriate legislation. But in addition, I believe ultimately, social bias, bigotry and racism are learned, and the most powerful force we have to counter such world views, is education. I would promote the development of a national education program, beginning with pre-school age children, extending into adult education, presenting an honest discussion and appraisal of our racial and religious history, with multi-cultural, multi-racial perspectives.
The program will be designed, as an exploration of the paths that might lead us to bridge our differences, focusing on the challenges that face us today. It will examine ways we might shore up the foundations of our inter-relationships.
It I believe this is our best long-term strategy against racism and other forms of societal discrimination.
At the same time, I will also work to find ways of addressing the difficulty law enforcement agencies have in balancing the extreme stress of life-and-death, instantaneous decision making with non-biased, community-appropriate responses to police calls. We owe that to the thousands of police officers who have sworn to protect the citizens of their communities, but are often ill-prepared to respond effectively and appropriately to situations within the context of a racially charged neighborhood.
I will push back on the privatization of the penal system nationwide. It is a more expensive approach than public management and in my opinion, unethical. It places a profit motive on the incarceration of people and incentivizes those for-profit organizations to keep inmates locked up longer, rather than provide a course of rehabilitation.
I will support legislation to redesign our approach to managing drug addiction. We require better controls on prescriptions for opiates, drug education for patients who will be prescribed pain medication, and funding for clinics and other resources like clean needle stations. We need to transcend the stigma of drug addiction and recognize it as a disease that afflicts men and women of all races, cultures and economic strata.