After watching the recent Republican and Democratic debates, I grow more frustrated at the prospect of spending another Presidential Election cycle voting for what I perceive to be the lest of the available evils, instead of a candidate that I truly feel passionate about. I am frustrated that the candidate I find myself identifying with has very little chance of securing the Party's nomination even though I find him to be authentic, genuine and correct on most issues. Yet it is his integrity and bluntness which will eventually knock him out of the running. And no I'm not talking about "the Donald".
Don't get me wrong. I think that outsider candidates like Donald Trump serve a very important purpose. He is a proxy in the Republican Party of anger and angst that is directed at the entire system. And Donald Trump is his own man. He has taken noble stances against the hedge fund industry and the influence of campaign donations by essentially telling the debate stage that he has bought and sold just about each and everyone of them. A clear example of access and policy subject to purchase. Although I respect Donald Trump's performance, I believe he is one of the greatest snake oil salesman of his time. Donald Trump seems concerned about the economic and political policies of one vested interest group - Trump, Inc.
Now, on the other side of the aisle, I think Sen. Bernie Sanders, and his Democratic -Socialist stance is just the tonic that the U.S. is in need of. As an Independent, Sen. Sanders caucuses with the Democratic Party, but he is his own person. Not necessarily an appealing trait to establishment party officials and hacks. I would really like to vote for him in the general election, but I don't think I will ever get that opportunity. I believe the Democratic Party establishment has too much invested in Hillary Clinton, a politician if there has ever been one, to allow Bernie Sanders to become the parties standard torch bearer in the general election. But that is exactly who is speaking to the core base of not just the Democratic Party, but also to much of the Republican Party.
So, here are the issues that I think are most important, at least to I, in the upcoming election cycle -
1. Federal Repeal of Cannabis Prohibition - This is so simple, even Smokin' Barry Obama could do this right now by issuing an executive order reclassifying cannabis from Schedule I Substance under the CSA. Perhaps, this will be Obama's lasting legacy after the 2016 election since candidates on both sides of the aisle, surprisingly Hillary Clinton, seem reluctant to embrace the growing repeal of the federal prohibition. Sen. Sanders says he supports the repeal of the federal prohibition.
This is an issue that should be co-opted or adopted by the Republican Party based on assertion of the 10th Amendment's State Rights clause. Arguments for cannabis use fall right in line with arguments against big government and less intrusion into personal liberties.
On this front, it seems that only Sen. Rand Paul understands the importance of this issue on a federal basis. Libertarian Justice Breena put it best when he stated "I find that our state statute violates the Federal and state constitutions in that it is an impermissible intrusion on the fundamental rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness...Big Brother [the government] cannot, in the name of Public Health, dictate to anyone what he can eat or drink or smoke in the PRIVACY of his own home." Well said.
2. Saving the Middle Class from Income Inequality - If there is no middle class, then there is no society. A well functioning society cannot function within the dichotomy of only rich and poor. The US is oligarchy of the rich. It has been reported that the top wealthiest 1% of the US possess 40% of the nation’s wealth; the bottom 80% own 7%; similarly, but later, the media reported, the "richest 1 percent in the United States now own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent". The gap between the top 10% and the middle class is over 1,000%; that increases another 1000% for the top 1%. The average employee "needs to work more than a month to earn what the CEO earns in one hour." Although different from income inequality, the two are related.
Empirically speaking, one can see the rapid decline in the forward progress in the middle class in the early 1980s with the moving of industrial and manufacturing jobs oversees, the rapid decline in Union support and attacks by the Republican Party, cuts and radical reforms in social welfare programs, massive dislocations of wealth and elimination of jobs based on technological advances. The only thing that the U.S. successfully exports today is Entertainment, including sports, and weapon systems. These issues must be addressed if the US is to aspire to its ideas of being a classless society and allowing people to achieve the 'American Dream".
3. Corporations are not People. Enacting legislation addressing the Supreme's Court trend of finding that Corporations are people with all associated rights of free speech and political activity. The next President will likely replace two of the current Supremes. See bellow-
"Corporations are people, my friend...Of course they are... “Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes?"- Mitt Romney, Republican Presidential Candidate 2012.
"No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They thrive. They dance. They live. They love. And they die. And that matters. That matters.That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people." Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D- Mass)
4. Prison Reform - This ties back with the repeal of cannabis prohibition and the granting of expungements or the commuting of non-violent drug offenses. Prisons were never meant to be an income generating business. However, with both the Federal and State governments contracting out prisons to "for profit corporations", it is easy to tell what stymies the progress of prison reform - the love of money, not rehabilitating the "criminal" but rather exploiting the criminal justice system for profit.
5. Middle East Policy - It is simply time for a two (2) state solution to be implemented between Israel and Palestine. I completely understand the Israeli's concern with existence from existential threats, however there comes a time to be accountable. The Jewish people have been slaves in their history and forced to wander the globe seeking protection from prosecution and annihilation. However, the current Israeli government policy towards the Palestinian people is akin to that of South Africa during its days of Apartheid. It is difficult for the US, on a foreign policy basis, to claim it seeks for freedom, human rights and democracy in the region when it is "forced" to accept the current Israeli government's reluctance to move discussions forward. But, rather the Israeli government opts for the status quo and making provocative moves like continued settlement building on the West Bank.
As many call for time to address the situation, I would like to quote Rev. Martin Luther King, "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct-action movement that was "well timed" according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "wait." It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "wait" has almost always meant "never." It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration. We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience."
Now the Palestinians also need to concede that the new borders will not resemble the pre-1967 boundaries. When the Arab nations declared a war on the State of Israel, and Israel defended itself and annexed territory, that is the consequence of war. Ask the Mexicans if they will be getting California or Arizona back from the U.S. anytime soon. Not going to happen.
7. Gun Control - I like to call this "Gun Management" rather than gun control. I think we can all agree that the US was safer when there was the Semi-Automatic Assault Riffle Ban. That Ban expired with little stomach to renew it. This Ban should be re-instituted because it helped manage guns.
No one should prohibit anyone from owning a gun under the 2nd amendment for hunting or protection - although I believe the 2nd Amendment really speaks only to a State Militia's protecting the citizenry from federal tyranny. But we have registrations and licenses for fishing, driving, cars, boats, warranties, marriages, but for Jah's sake I can't understand why there is not a federal mandatory gun and training registration requirement.
If you really wanted to take the Second Amendment to the irrational extreme, we should all be allowed to posses a tactical nuclear weapon in the backyard for protection. Obviously, this wouldn't be safe, but neither is allowing children in school or people attending a movie to be subject to random massacre by individuals who should never be in possession of a gun in the first place. Just like drowning, these type of deaths are, or at least should be, prevented.
7. Compromise - I don't recall when the word "Compromise" became such a dirty, nasty word. Under the heading it is better to get half a loaf then no loaf at all, the US government continues to operate at the extremes. The vast majority of Americans seek neither extreme but a compromise to allow the government to do its job - govern. Lack of legislation, is not legislation. It is an abdication of responsibility - and power abhors a vacuum.
There is a lot of room to negotiate for the benefit of all US citizens rather than a policy of unified resistance. The only way for the country to move forward is to allow once again for civil discussion of different ideas without demonizing one another. If "Mom" and "Dad" governed a family at these type of extremes, divorce would be a 100% statistic. A family could just not function. Neither can a country.
So no matter what your political affiliation or point of view, I hope you take the time to carefully consider what is at stake in the next election and be motivated to do something to help effectuate the change you seek. Just remember, if you don't vote, you are part of the problem, not the solution.
Please feel free to reach out to me at Gainsburg@bellsouth.net if you have any other legal issue involving the cannabis industry. I am here to serve the cannabis and securities communities.