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The Political, Social, and Economic Issues in 2012:

How Do the President and Mitt Romney Stack Up?

 

 

Introduction

There is perhaps no better way to clarify how you should vote in 2012 than to lay out the plan and beliefs of each candidate regarding the critical issues of our time. As we get closer to Election Day, I hope you keep these differences between the candidates in mind. Initially, I had planned to discuss the fine points and relative value of Supply Side Economics (Republican approach to the economy) versus Demand Side Economics (Democratic approach to the economy). Instead, I have decided to cover a broader set of issues.

Back in March 2012 I began writing a six part series on Election Year Politics and the Economy. There, in the broadest sense, I covered the basics of economics and I would encourage you to review them once again. We are told incessantly by the media and party leaders that the crucial issue in 2012 is the economy. However, many many other issues are important to various segments of the population, as well as important to the voting public as a whole.

Consequently, I have layed out how each candidate views a variety of social, political, and economic issues. In this way, the larger broader view of election year politics will be covered. With this broader view, coupled with the specifics of economic theory covered in the six part series, each reader should be adequately prepared with knowledge to vote for the candidate of his or her choice on November 6, 2012.

In a final Conclusions Section I will tell my cyberspace audience how I will vote this fall and my reasons for doing so.

 

Critical Issues of Our Time

 

 The following shows how Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stand on a selection of issues. This information comes mostly from the Associated Press but also from this Blogger.

 ABORTION & BIRTH CONTROL

OBAMA: Supports abortion rights Health care law that requires contraceptives to be available for free for women enrolled in workplace health plans.

ROMNEY: Opposes abortion rights. He previously supported them. Says state law should guide abortion rights, and Roe v. Wade should be reversed by a future Supreme Court ruling. Said he would end federal aid to Planned Parenthood.

WAR

OBAMA: Ended the Iraq war. He increased U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan then began drawing down the force with a plan to have all out by the end of 2014. He approved U.S. air power in NATO-led campaign that helped Libyan opposition topple government. There are major cuts coming in the size of the Army and Marine Corps as part of agreement with congressional Republicans to cut $487 billion in military spending over a decade.

ROMNEY: Endorses 2014 end to U.S. combat in Afghanistan, subject to conditions at the time. He would increase strength of armed forces, including number of troops and warships, adding almost $100 billion to the Pentagon budget in 2016.

TERRORISM

OBAMA: Approved the raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden and set policy that U.S. would no longer use harsh interrogation techniques, a practice that had essentially ended later in George W. Bush’s presidency. He largely carried forward Bush’s key anti-terrorism policies, including detention of suspects at Guantanamo Bay despite promise to close the prison. Expanded use of unmanned drone strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan and Yemen.

ROMNEY: No constitutional rights for foreign terrorism suspects. In 2007, Romney refused to rule out use of waterboarding torture to interrogate terrorist suspects. Despite the fact the war crimes tribunal executed Japanese soldiers for waterboarding following the ending of WWII, Mitt Romney in 2011, said he does not consider waterboarding to be torture. The fact that the United States itself strongly supported all of the Geneva Convention laws prior to the Bush administration, Mitt Romney ignores the fact that the use of torture by the Bush administration dishonored and disgraced our country. Evidently, Mitt Romney would do the same by ignoring both national and international laws that forbid it.

IMMIGRATION

OBAMA: Issued directive in June that immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children be exempted from deportation and granted work permits if they apply. He took the temporary step after failing to deliver on promised immigration overhaul, with the defeat of legislation that would have created a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants enrolled in college or enlisted in the armed forces. Says he is still committed to it. Government has deported a record number of illegal immigrants under Obama.

ROMNEY: Favors U.S.-Mexico border fence and opposes education benefits to illegal immigrants. He opposes offering legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college, but would do so for those who serve in the armed forces. Establish an immigration-status verification system for employers and punish them if they hire non-citizens who do not prove their legal status. He would end immigration caps for spouses and minor children of legal immigrants.

GUNS

OBAMA: Has not pushed for stricter gun laws as president. Signed laws letting people carry concealed weapons in national parks and in checked bags on Amtrak trains. Favors “robust steps, within existing law” to address gun issues, White House says. He voices support for renewed ban on assault-type weapons but has not tried to get that done. He previously backed stronger gun controls.

ROMNEY: Opposes stricter gun control laws. He suggested after the shooting in a Colorado theater that he favors tougher enforcement of existing gun laws. As Massachusetts governor, he vowed in 2002 to protect the state’s “tough gun laws,” and in 2004 signed a Massachusetts ban on assault weapons.

FOREIGN POLICY

OBAMA: Opposes near-term military strike on Iran but holds that option open if it proves the only way to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. He declined to repeat the Libya air power commitment for Syrian opposition. Instead Obama seeks international pressure against the Syrian government. Chastised Israel for continuing to build housing settlements in disputed areas and pressed both sides to begin a new round of peace talks based on the land borders established after the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict. He signed into law to expand military and civilian cooperation with Israel. Sought penalties against China for unfair trade but opposes branding China a currency manipulator.

ROMNEY: Appears to present a clearer U.S. military threat to Iran and has spoken in more permissive terms about Israel’s right to act against Iran’s nuclear facilities, without explicitly approving of such a step. “Of course you take military action” if sanctions and internal opposition fail to dissuade Tehran from making a nuclear weapon, he has said. Has spoken in favor of covert action by the U.S. and regional allies in Syria but “the right course is not military” intervention by the U.S. Associates himself more closely with hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pledges more military assistance to Israel and agreed with Israel’s position that Jerusalem is the capital, disregarding the Palestinians’ claim to the eastern sector. Branded Russia the “No. 1 geopolitical foe” of the U.S. and threatened to label China a currency manipulator in a move that could lead to broad trade sanctions.

DEBT

OBAMA: Fourth-straight year of trillion-dollar deficits is projected. He won approval to raise debt limit to avoid default. He calls for tackling the debt with a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases. Central to Obama’s plan is to let Bush-era tax cuts expire for couples making more than $250,000.

ROMNEY: Defended 2008 bailout of financial institutions as a necessary step to avoid the system’s collapse, but opposed the auto bailout. He would cap federal spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product by end of his first term, down from 23.5 percent now, with largely unspecified spending cuts. He favors a constitutional balanced budget amendment.

ECONOMY

OBAMA: Term marked by high unemployment, a deep recession that began in previous administration and has created a sustained gradual recovery. Responded to recession with a roughly $800 billion stimulus plan. Continued implementation of Wall Street and auto industry bailouts begun under George W. Bush. Proposes tax breaks for U.S. manufacturers producing domestically or repatriating jobs from abroad, and tax penalties for U.S. companies outsourcing jobs.

ROMNEY: He advocates lower taxes, less regulation, balanced budget, more trade deals to spur growth. He would replace jobless benefits with unemployment savings accounts. He proposes repeal of the law toughening financial-industry regulations after the meltdown in that sector, and the law tightening accounting regulations in response to corporate scandals.

EDUCATION

OBAMA: Has approved waivers freeing states from the most onerous requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law. “Race to the Top” competition has rewarded winning states with billions of dollars for pursuing education policies Obama supports.

ROMNEY: Supported the federal accountability standards of No Child Left Behind law. He has said that student testing, charter-school incentives and teacher evaluation standards of Obama’s “Race to the Top” competition “make sense” although the federal government should have less control of education.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

 OBAMA: He ordered temporary moratorium on deep-water drilling after the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico but has pushed for more oil and gas drilling overall. He achieved historic increases in fuel economy standards that will save money at the pump while raising the cost of new vehicles.

He achieved first-ever regulations on heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming and on toxic mercury pollution from power plants. Spent heavily on green energy and has embraced nuclear power as a clean source. Failed to persuade a Democratic Congress to pass limits he promised on carbon emissions.

ROMNEY: He supports opening the Atlantic and Pacific outer continental shelves to drilling, as well as Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Alaska.

Wants to reduce obstacles to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy development, and accelerate drilling permits in areas where exploration has already been approved for developers with good safety records. Says green power has yet to become viable and the causes of climate change are unknown.

GAY RIGHTS

 OBAMA: Supports legal recognition of same-sex marriage, a matter decided by states. He opposed that recognition in his 2008 presidential campaign, and in 2004 Senate campaign, while supporting the extension of legal rights and benefits to same-sex couples in civil unions. He achieved repeal of the military ban on openly gay members. He has not achieved repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and affirms the right of states to refuse to recognize such marriages. His administration has ceased defending the law in court but it remains on the books.

ROMNEY: Opposes legal recognition of same-sex marriage and says it should be banned with a constitutional amendment, not left to states. “Marriage is not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state.” He also opposes civil unions “if they are identical to marriage other than by name,” but says states should be left to decide what rights and benefits should be allowed under those unions. Says certain domestic partnership benefits —largely unspecified — as well as hospital visitation rights are appropriate but “others are not.” Says he would not seek to restore the ban on openly gay military members.

HEALTH CARE

 OBAMA: Achieved landmark overhaul putting U.S. on path to universal coverage now that Supreme Court has upheld the law’s mandate for almost everyone to obtain insurance.

Under the law, insurers will be banned from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illness, tax credits will subsidize premiums, people without work-based insurance will have access to new markets, small business gets help for offering insurance and Medicaid will expand.

ROMNEY: Promises to work for repeal of the law modeled largely after his universal health care achievement in Massachusetts because he says states, not Washington, should drive policy on the uninsured.

Proposes to guarantee that people who are “continuously covered” for a certain period be protected against losing insurance if they get sick, leave their job and need another policy. Would expand individual tax-advantaged medical savings accounts and let savings be used for insurance premiums as well as personal medical costs.

SOCIAL SECURITY

OBAMA: Has not proposed a comprehensive plan to address Social Security’s long-term financial problems. In 2011, he proposed a new measure of inflation that would reduce annual increases in Social Security benefits. The proposal would reduce the long-term financing shortfall by about 25 percent, according to the Social Security actuaries.

ROMNEY: Protect the status quo for people 55 and over but, for the next generation of retirees, raise the retirement age for full benefits by one or two years and reduce inflation increases in benefits for wealthier recipients.

TAXES

 OBAMA: He wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and ensure they pay 30 percent of their income at minimum. He supports extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone making under $200,000, or $250,000 for couples. But in 2010, agreed to a two-year extension of the lower rates for all.

He wants to let the top two tax rates go back up 3 to 4 percentage points to 39.6 percent and 36 percent, and raise rates on capital gains and dividends for the wealthy. Health care law provides for tax on highest-value health insurance plans. Together with Congress, he built a first-term record of significant tax cuts, some temporary.

ROMNEY: He would keep Bush-era tax cuts for all incomes and drop all tax rates further, by 20 percent, bringing the top rate, for example, down to 28 percent from 35 percent and the lowest rate to 8 percent instead of 10 percent. Curtail deductions, credits and exemptions for the wealthiest.

He would end Alternative Minimum Tax for individuals, eliminate capital gains tax for families making below $200,000 and cut corporate tax to 25 percent from 35 percent. Does not specify which tax breaks or programs he would curtail to help cover costs.

  

Conclusions

Mitt Romney as a Choice in 2012:

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
that struts and frets his hour upon the stage
and then is heard no more: it is a tale
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Shakespear’s MacBeth

 

This fall I’m voting to re-elect President Barack Obama to a second term as our president. While Mitt Romney appears to be a good and decent man, he does not have the experience, attitudes, or mental acuity to convince me he is more qualified to be the President of the United States.

I don’t like President Obama’s 2011 measure to eliminate inflationary increases for Social Secuirty recipients, and I do like Mitt Romney’s plan to eliminate Capital Gains taxes on those making $200,000 or less. I also don’t think the President was aggressive enough on banning assault rifles, while Romney succeeded in getting assualt rifles banned in his state of Massachusetts.

That’s it folks. The President, on balance, is still the right choice this fall because of all his tremendous accomplishments while in office.

The Accomplishments of President Barack Obama

By some accounts (Florida Professor of American Studies Robert P. Watson of Lynn University) President Obama’s accomplishments now total 244 since he took office. Here are just a few of the significant accomplishments of the president during his first term in the White House.

  • Overhauled the food safety system;
  • Approved the Lily Ledbetter ”Equal Pay” for women rule;
  • Ended “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” discrimination in the military;
  • Passed the Hate Crimes bill in Congress;
  • Saved the auto industry from bankruptcy which included General Motors and Chrysler;
  • Appointed two progressive women to the U.S. Supreme Court including the first Latina;
  • Pushed through the Affordable Health Care Act, outlawing denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, extending until age 26 health care coverage of children under parent’s plans, steps toward “Medicare for All;”
  • Expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) health care for children. This helped to cover 4 million more lower-income children;
  • Pushed through a $789 Billion economic stimulus bill that saved or created 3 million jobs and began task of repairing the nation’s infrastructure;
  • Overhauled the credit card industry, making it more consumer friendly;
  • Established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and used a recess appointment to keep it on track in the face of  GOP attempts to derail it;
  • Also outmaneuvered GOP in naming two members of the National Labor Relations Board blocked by the Republicans in their attempt to shut down the NLRB;
  • Won two extensions of the debt ceiling and extensions of unemployment compensation in the face of Republican threats to shut down the U.S. government;
  • Pulled troops out of Iraq and began drawing down of troops in Afghanistan;
  • Signed an omnibus public lands bill that allowed for 2 million more acres to be declared wilderness. It added 1,000 miles designated for scenic rivers, and added lands for national trails;
  • Signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act;
  • Signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which expanded the scope of AmeriCorps;
  • Signed an executive order easing restrictions on the use of federal money for embryonic stem cell research;
  • Created greater transparency in government by creation of White House visitor logs, a ban on lobbyist gifts, or allowing lobbyists from serving on advisory boards, and restrictions on the hiring of lobbyists.
  • Obama persuaded BP to put up $20 billion as a guarantee that the Gulf Coast residents whose livelihoods were damaged or destroyed by the spill would be compensated.
  • In 2011 President Barack Obama gave the order for Navy Seals commandos to take out Osama Bin Laden, the architect of 911. They were successful and Osama Bin Laden is dead.
  • President Barack Obama achieved, as of October 2012, the lowest unemployment rate (7.8%) since he took office. Remember folks, the unemployment rate during the recession, which the President inherited, reached a peak of (10.0%) on October, 2009. C’mon Man, give credit where credit is due! We’re now in an expansionary economic cycle. Guess what economic cycle comes after the expansinary one? That’s right genius—you guessed it—PROSPERITY!

At the value judgment level, I simply prefer the values of the democratic party than I do those of the Republican party. It seems to the objective observer that Republicans are always playing “catch-up” to the rest of society. Problem is “the Party of No” never really seems to catch-up. In addition,“Trickle Down (Supply Side Economics)” just doesn’t work because tax cuts for high income individuals, corporations, and large businesses don’t necessarily lead to economic expansion thereby creating jobs and lowering unemployment.

Why? Because there are other choices for using tax cut windfalls besides reinvestment in one’s business that might lead to job creation. One can simply save the money for a reserve or a rainy day. Or, one can invest their tax windfall in the stock market or other investments. Or, one can spend the tax windfall on hefty bonuses for executives, and salary increases for managers or staff, or one can actually plow the tax windfall back into the business.

Point is—there are many choices for what to do with a tax cut windfall. Current Republican rhetoric would have you believe that tax cuts always lead to job creation and lowering unemployment. It can, but what Republicans try to hide from the public and the voter is that, in reality, there are many other choices for spending a tax cut windfall, not just job creation.

For all these reasons around economics and taxes, as well as the President’ many other significant achievements while in office, I’m giving my support and vote in the coming election to the President of the United States—Barack Obama.

Read Full Post »

 

     In Part III I will attempt to evaluate the impact of immigration, specifically illegal immigration. It is perhaps linguistically amusing to note the definition and how such a word as “Impact” is defined, and how it fits so well into this discussion of illegal immigration.  Impact is defined as the collision of one body against another; collision; or the  force of a collision, or to press closely or pack in. And indeed, there is a kind of social collision going on all across the nation right now as the issue of illegal immigration is debated.

      No where is there a better way to measure such a social collision and impact than to evaluate the differing attitudes and beliefs regarding this issue. Like many social issues, “attitudes and beliefs” (for better or worse) seem to trump facts, logic and reason. This is not surprising given that all facts are valued in a different way or evaluated always within a social context. Writers like myself can impart facts but public opinion is usually all about “feelings.” So if feelings are the measure of impact—what is the impact?

      I have chosen to communicate such impact through a social science research methodology known as public opinion polls. They have their strengths and weaknesses and sampling errors, but I think that collectively (A kind of Meta-Evaluation Assessment) they can give the reader direction of opinion that is both reliable and valid.

     There are literally hundreds of polls that have been conducted at national, state, and local levels on the complex issue of illegal immigration. In terms of a sociological analysis, the issue divides people by all the relevant social and demographic variables sociologists and political analysts use: political party, age, race, gender, and  geographical area.

     I had to make some choices here to report. I chose to use American National polls, California polls, and a Zogby International Poll of people from Mexico to evaluate the perceived impact of illegal immigration. The results follow.

 AMERICAN NATIONAL POLLS

   The general public overwhelmingly favors immigration reform. Poll after poll shows that Americans want well-enforced, sensible, and sustainable immigration laws.

  • 89% of Americans think illegal immigration into the U.S. is a problem (30% “extremely serious,” 33% “very serious,” and 26% “somewhat serious.” (Time Magazine, Jan. 2006)
  • 82% think that not enough is being done along the borders to keep illegal immigrants from crossing into the country. (New York Times/CBS, May 2007)
  • 68% feel that the number of immigrants who cross the border, whether legal or illegal is “too high”. (Polling Company, Sept. 2006)
  • 62% oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens of America. (Quinnipiac Univ., Feb  2006)

     These are only a few examples of the many statistics demonstrating that Americans want lower immigration, greater enforcement, and more commitment to making immigration work in the best interests of the nation.

Categorical Issues found in National Polls

     A Rasmussen Report Poll conducted November 5, 2008 of 1,000 likely voters asked: “Is the government doing enough to secure the border?”

  • 79% responded “no,”—” it is not doing enough”.
  • 10% responded “yes.”
  •      It also asked, “Which is more important: securing the border or legalizing undocumented workers?”
  • 65% responded that gaining control of the border is more important.
  • 26% responded that legalization is more important.
  • Rasmussen Report Poll conducted from October 24-25th of 800 likely voters found that:
  • 51% opposed the DREAM Act (a form of amnesty for former and present illegal alien students) concept.
  • 68% believe the passage of the bill would encourage more illegal immigration in the future.
  • 71% believe that illegal immigrants should not qualify for in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities.
  • 77 % oppose making drivers’ licenses available to illegal immigrants.

 Legal Immigration

  • 47% want to decrease immigration. (Gallup, June 2003)
  • Only 12% support increases in immigration. (Zogby Intl. and Hamilton College, Feb. 2003)
  • 20% believe immigration should be stopped immediately, and 52% believe that “Some immigration is okay, but it should be limited and people immigrating illegally should be vigorously prosecuted.” (Zogby Intl., Feb. 2000)
  • 72% completely or mostly agree that “We should restrict and control people coming into our country to live more than we do now.” (Pew Research Center, Oct. 1999)
  • 73% think that the U.S. should strictly limit immigration. (Time/CNN, Sept. 1993)

 Immigration and Terrorism

  • 58% think that immigration should be decreased. (USA Today/CNN/Gallup, Oct. 2001)
  • 83% think that it is too easy for people from other countries to enter the U.S. (CBS News/New York Times, Sept. 2001 and Dec. 2001)
  • 77% think not enough is being done to control the border and to screen people allowed into the country. (Zogby Intl., Sept. 2001)

 Labor Issues

  • 72% said the U.S shouldn’t allow more immigrants into the country because they take American jobs. (Wall Street Journal/NBC News, Dec. 1998)
  • 86% agree that “allowing companies to hire additional temporary foreign professionals reduces employment opportunities for U.S. technical workers.” (IEEE-USA/Harris Interactive, Sept. 1998)
  • 62% agree that immigrants take the jobs of U.S. workers. (Newsweek, July 1993)

 Illegal Immigration and Amnesty

  • 55% consider illegal immigration a “very serious problem.” (Roper ASW for Negative Population Growth, March 2003)
  • 65% disagree with granting amnesty to illegal Mexican immigrants in the U.S. (Zogby Intl., May 2002)
  • 55% think that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants is a bad idea. (Zogby Intl., Sept. 2001)
  • 65% believe that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would encourage further illegal immigration, and that for this reason amnesty should not be granted. (Harris Interactive for FAIR, August 2001)
  • 67% think the U.S. should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens. (Gallup, August 2001)

 CALIFORNIA POLL DATA

     A Field Poll by the Field Research Corporation of 570 registered California voters taken from March 20-31, 2007 found that:

  • 83% support the legalization of illegal immigrants who are employed and have resided in the United States for “a number of years,” and a lower share (67%) agree to a temporary worker program for illegal immigrants.
  • 77% believe that illegal immigration is either a “very serious problem” (48%) or a “somewhat serious problem” (28%).
  • 71% agree with strengthening border patrols.
  • 63% support stiffer penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants.
  • 53% favor deporting illegal immigrants.

     A Field Poll released March 4, 2005 with a +/- 4.1% age point margin of error found:

 “A new bill currently in the U.S. Congress would effectively block states like California from providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, by requiring all states to verify that applicants for driver’s licenses are American citizens or living in the country legally.” The results were that 59% favored this action (vs. 38% opposed). Republicans supported by 78%-19%, Non-partisans by 57%-42%, and Democrats by 53%-41%. Latinos opposed by 53%-45%.

     A question also probed the issue of California adopting a measure to allow driver’s licenses for “undocumented immigrants.” The similar results were opposition by 62%-35%. However opinions were nearly equal on whether the state should issue a different non-ID license to the illegal aliens.

  • 65% said that illegal immigrants should not be eligible for services and benefits provided by state and local governments, except for emergency services.  53% said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes granting government benefits and services to illegal immigrants.  73% said that illegal immigrants should not be eligible for in-state tuition at state universities, and 68% opposed granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. (Luntz Research, October 2003)

     A Zogby International Poll of 802 registered California voters in Feb.-Mar. 2002 for Diversity Alliance probed attitudes towards immigration. The organization reported the following findings:

Q. State legislators have proposed a law allowing illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. Knowing that in California, driver’s licenses can be used as one form of identifcation to apply for welfare benefits, do you support or oppose a law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants?
A. Oppose = 67%, Support = 29%, Not Sure = 4%.
Immigrants were stronger opponents than U.S.-born respondents (71% to 67%).

Q. The state legislature proposed a law giving illegal immigrants reduced tuition to state colleges and universities. Do you support or oppose such a law?
A. Oppose = 72%, Support = 25%, Not Sure = 3%.

Q. Do you agree or disagree that employers should be required to certify that there are no American workers available for a job before an employer imports workers from overseas?

A. Agree = 68%, Disagree = 27%, Not Sure = 5%.
Immigrants were stronger supporters of a certification requirement than native-born respondents (83% to 68%).

Q. Do you think a three-year moratorium on legal immigration would be beneficial or harmful to Californians?
A. Beneficial = 43%, Harmful = 40%, Not Sure = 16%.
Immigrants viewed a moratorium as more harmful than did U.S.-born respondents (46% to 40%).

  • 62% of citizens and 71% of immigrants oppose a law that would grant driver’s licenses to illegal residents. (Zogby Intl., March 2001)
  • 82% believe that population growth over the next two decades will make the state a less desirable place to live. (Public Policy Institute of California, May 2001)

     A statewide poll by the Public Policy Institute of California released in December 1999 found immigration as the second most important issue facing California (after education).

     Eight percent of respondents identified immigration as their greatest concern compared with 28 percent for education and seven percent for crime, the third most frequently volunteered response. Other results offer a mixed picture. While most respondents see the state headed in the right direction (62% – 31%), more respondents indicated that they think the state will be a worse place to live in 2020 than a better place (43% – 25%). Some of the reasons for concern may be the growing wealth gap in the state and concern about the environment. By 72% to 23%, respondents said they expect to gap to continue to grow. By a margin of 60% to 37% respondents said they expect the quality of the natural environment to get worse rather than get better. Interestingly, 22 percent of the respondents did not want to hazzard a guess about the state’s population size, and among those who did guess, only 13% chose the correct answer (30-35 million) while 46% underestimated the population and only 19% overestimated it.

 Californians are ambivalent as to whether “the increasing diversity that immigrants bring” improves or threatens American culture. About the same number think immigrants “improve” – 39% and “threaten” – 38%. (The comparable national public opinion is “improve” – 30% and “threaten” – 42%). And they are ambivalent about whether “legal immigration is a problem.” They divide 47% to 48% saying it “is” or “is not” a problem. However, most Californians (86%) say “illegal immigrants are a problem.” A majority of Californians (54%) favor changing the law so children of illegal immigrants born here are not automatically U.S. citizens — 40% are opposed. But, most Californians (53%) would not bar illegal immigrants from attending public schools — 41% would bar them.
(Source: Los Angeles Times, Nov.2, 1997)

 THE MEXICAN PEOPLE SPEAK

 Mexicans also Feel Mexican-Americans Should Be Loyal to Mexico 

     A new survey by Zogby International finds that people in Mexico think that granting legal status to illegal immigrants would encourage more illegal immigration to the United States. As the top immigrant-sending country for both legal and illegal immigrants, views on immigration in Mexico can provide insight into the likely impact of an amnesty, as well as other questions related to immigration.

     The results are available online at the Center for Immigration Studies’ website. Among the findings:

* A clear majority of people in Mexico, 56 percent, thought giving legal status to illegal immigrants in the United States would make it more likely that people they know would go to the United States illegally. Just 17 percent thought it would make Mexicans less likely to go illegally. The rest were unsure or thought it would make no difference.

* Of Mexicans with a member of their immediate household in the United States, 65 percent said a legalization program would make people they know more likely to go to America illegally.

* Two-thirds of Mexicans know someone living in the United States; one-third said an immediate member of their household was living in the United States.

* Interest in going to the United States remains strong even in the current recession, with 36 percent of Mexicans (39 million people) saying they would move to the United States if they could. This is consistent with a recent Pew Research Center poll which found that about one-third of Mexicans would go to the United States if they could. At present, 12 to 13 million Mexico-born people live in the United States.

* An overwhelming majority (69 percent) thought that the primary loyalty of Mexican-Americans (Mexico- and U.S.-born) should be to Mexico. Just 20 percent said it should be to the United States. The rest were unsure.

* Also, 69 percent of people in Mexico felt that the Mexican government should represent the interests of Mexican-Americans (Mexico- and U.S.-born) in the United States.

* A plurality, 39 percent, of Mexicans thought that in the last year fewer people they know had gone to the United States as illegal immigrants compared to previous years. Only 27 percent thought more had gone. The rest thought it had stayed the same or were unsure.

* A plurality, 40 percent, also thought that in the last year more of the illegal immigrants they know had returned to Mexico compared to previous years. Only 25 percent thought the number returning had fallen. The rest thought it had stayed the same or were unsure.

* Both the bad economy and increased immigration enforcement were cited as reasons fewer people were going to America as illegal immigrants and more were coming back to Mexico.

     The following discussion wasn’t written by me. It came at the end of the survey and I thought it articulated very well the assessment of the data by the author and his opinion on the issue of illegal immigration and immigration policy.

Discusssion:

     As the nation begins debates the issue of immigration, the perspective of people in Mexico is important because Mexico is the top sending country for both legal and illegal immigrants. In 2008 one of six new legal immigrants was from Mexico and, according to the Department of Homeland Security, 6 out of 10 illegal immigrants come from that country. Asking people in Mexico their views on immigration can provide insight into the likely impact of an amnesty for illegal immigrants and other questions related to immigration.

     This survey is the first to ask people in Mexico if they thought legalizing illegal immigrants in the United States would encourage more illegal immigration. The survey was conducted in August and September of 2009 and consisted of 1,004 in-person interviews of adults throughout Mexico. The findings show that a majority of people in Mexico think that an amnesty would make it more likely that people in Mexico would come to the United States illegally. This is especially true for people who have a member of their households living in the United States. It is important to note that respondents were asked specifically about whether an amnesty would make illegal immigration more likely, not just immigration generally. Other questions in the survey explore attitudes about migration to United States generally, recent trends in migration, and loyalty to the United States.

     The results may give pause to those lawmakers who think that an amnesty/legalization for illegals immigrants would reduce illegal immigration in the future. The findings of this survey indicate that an amnesty would encourage more illegal immigration, at least from Mexico.

Methodology:

     The in-person survey done in Mexico for the Center for Immigration Studies by Zogby International was of 1,004 persons 18 years of age and older. The sampling framework was the most recent (2009) electoral sections defined by the Federal Electoral Institute. A multi-stage sampling procedure was employed that first randomly selected 100 electoral sections proportional to size. Second, two house blocks were randomly selected from each section. Within each block five households were selected using a systematic random procedure. The margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 3.1% for a 95% confidence level. Margins of error are larger for sub-groups.

The above is a press release dated October 14 from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: center@cis.org http://www.cis.org

SUMMARY AND AN OPINION

Summary

     The data make it clear that the vast majority of Americans want immigration reform. The data also makes it clear that the majority of Americans  oppose illegal immigration (and a good percentage want no immigration at all) and do not favor giving amnesty to illegal aliens.

     These are the highlights that I surmise constitutes the best summary of the data you’ve just read:

American National Polls

89% of Americans think illegal immigration into the U.S. is a problem. 

 68% feel that the number of immigrants who cross the border, whether legal or illegal is “too high”.

 73% think that the U.S. should strictly limit immigration. 

 71% believe that illegal immigrants should not qualify for in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities.

77 % oppose making drivers’ licenses available to illegal immigrants.

California Polls

      83% support the legalization of illegal immigrants who are employed and have resided in the United States for “a number of years,” and a lower share (67%) agree to a temporary worker program for illegal immigrants.

     Even in California however :

 71% agree with strengthening border patrols.

63% support stiffer penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants.

53% favor deporting illegal immigrants.

Poll Conducted in Mexico 

 Mexicans also Feel Mexican-Americans Should Be Loyal to Mexico 

     A new survey conducted in 2009 by Zogby International finds that people in Mexico think that granting legal status to illegal immigrants would encourage more illegal immigration to the United States. As the top immigrant-sending country for both legal and illegal immigrants, views on immigration in Mexico can provide insight into the likely impact of an amnesty, as well as other questions related to immigration.

     The results are available online at the Center for Immigration Studies’ website. Among the findings:

* A clear majority of people in Mexico, 56 percent, thought giving legal status to illegal immigrants in the United States would make it more likely that people they know would go to the United States illegally. Just 17 percent thought it would make Mexicans less likely to go illegally. The rest were unsure or thought it would make no difference.

* Of Mexicans with a member of their immediate household in the United States, 65 percent said a legalization program would make people they know more likely to go to America illegally.

* Two-thirds of Mexicans know someone living in the United States; one-third said an immediate member of their household was living in the United States.

Opinion

      Up until this point I have shyed away from giving an opinion in deference to a complete, objective presentation of facts. Before I undertook to write a five-part series on the topic of immigration (specifically illegal immigration) I honestly had a complete open mind (or no opinion at all) as to the immigration debate. Subsequently however, by learning many facts on this complex issue, I have begun to form an opinion about immigration and what is going on. It’s led to the observation that there exist a major disconnect between what the American people want on immigration and the political establishment in Washington and California. I like to think that my opinion is well-reasoned based on only the facts; however, you be the judge of that assumption.

    What does all this mean? How can one make sense of the impact of illegal immigration on the American people? When a citizen breaks the law and is on the run, most people don’t question whether law enforcement has the right to apprehend the offender and make an arrest for some offense. If law enforcement has the legal right, if not moral obligation, to bring offenders to justice, why then does it matter whether the offender is a citizen or an illegal alien? This is more than an opinion—it is the law.

     This is not the view of just some off-beat moronic right-wing conservative group, it is the opinion of a wide and diverse group of Americans who support our laws once a soverign democratic nation has spoken.

     Right now, we have a U.S. president who is doing a really fine good job on many issues like healthcare, financial reform and the economy. However, he appears to have some “CHINKS IN HIS ARMOR” or weaknesses in his moral compass on some very important issues.

     He has failed to bring to justice war criminals who committed crimes against humanity. The offenders ran the entire gamut of CIA lackeys, military personnel, and members of the Bush administration. He also dragged his feet on promises he made during his election campaign to the Gay and Lesbian citizenry, and now he wants to ignore the vast majority of Americans who want no amnesty for illegals, and who want our borders protected.  We also have a California governor who is “illegal alien-friendly” and doesn’t understand that illegals are law-breakers and are violating the soverign territory of the United States. To use the colloquial language of the street—“ illegal aliens are dissin’ us (i.e., disrespecting the American people).

     As a writer with a very pro-liberal outlook on civil rights in general, it is nevertheless appallingly clear that there is a major “disconnect” between what Americans want and the politicians who we elect to serve us. Just like Meg Whitman running for Governor of California this fall, it is clear—“we have the best politicians money can buy.” 

    And, it isn’t only politicians who are dragging their feet on supporting a viable, legal, and social policy on illegal immigration. American business is also dragging its feet. Why? Because cheap labor has been their major incentive. Consequently, the nation has been “importing” poverty for decades since data shows that 70% of all illegals have no high school diploma,  and virtually no skills.

     Right now the vast majority of Americans are against illegal immigration, in favor of protecting our borders, and opposed to amnesty. Nevertheless this majority are being vilified in the media and scapegoated by a sizeable minority of pro-illegal immigration folks. But you have to ask yourself this question. How do other countries (whether developed or undeveloped) deal with their own illegal immigration problem? Last year and in 2008, my wife and I visited Mexico as part of a Princess Cruise and the excursions the ship provided. Both times we were asked to whip out our passports upon entry into Mexico. I suspect that Mexico (just like the United States), despite its current political rhetoric castagating the new Arizona law, actually respects the soverign nature of its own country and borders as well. In my humble opinion the Mexican people are a good and decent people. We Americans are very lucky to have such good people living south of the border. For this reason, I think the opinion of the Mexican people is very important in order to have a comprehensive view of this issue. I found the survey data from Mexico itself very telling. The survey of Mexican citizens shows that Mexicans want all their citizens (including illegals) to be loyal to Mexico, and the majority feel that if the U.S. grants amnesty to illegals it will only further increase illegal immigration.

     If there is some sort of compromise reached by the U.S. Congress on the many issues of immigration, it will need to be looked at very closely. Like many other political issues compromise is mostly welcome, but not always welcome. I think immigration is one issue where the soverign nature of the United States needs to be protected and respected with no compromises at all. We’ve had enough “feet-dragging” by the U.S. Congress already. Too much compromise will also weaken our resolve to eliminate future illegal immigration.

     Where border protection is concerned modern technology needs to be employed. If border protection is deemed really important (and the American people seem to think so) then it is imcumbent upon the U.S. government to make the resources available to do the job. And, I want a four-star general to be put in charge (and responsible for) the securing of our borders. It makes no sense to me to allocate our “brightest and our best” field commanders to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq when we can’t even secure our own borders at home.

 

 


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Special Tribute

 A Great Gay Rights Champion

Harvey Milk

      One of the greatest pioneers of the civil rights movement during the 20th Century was Gay San Francisco Supervisor and political activist, the late Harvey Milk. When the history books are written about the social and political history of the United States, the name Harvey Milk will be remembered as a champion against hate and bigotry and was a pioneer of leadership to San Francisco’s gay community. But his influence extended way beyond San Francisco and the bay area. In 2009, Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk, accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on behalf of his uncle.    

         People need to be reminded of the importance of gay rights for GLBT people throughout this country and the world. It is a key aspect of the long standing historical fight for civil rights in general. People also need to be reminded that America is a constant work-in-progress, and democracy needs encouragement and nudging all the time. The underlying driving force of social change in a democracy has always been sheer determination and cultural attitudes. Doing what is inclusive and right toward other people always takes courage, and a vision of things not yet realized by the majority of the citizenry.   

 Connections

      When I grew up in Marin County in the 1940s and 50s it was very common to hear all sorts of derogatory comments about a person’s race, nationality, religion, ethnicity, gender, and where one was born. Nevertheless, Marin County back then was still light years ahead of most counties in California.  And being a Californian meant people of the state were usually way ahead of the curve where social change was concerned compared to the rest of the country.   

      But when I left in 1968 to seek employment in Sacramento, Marin County had socially changed a lot. Many of the old ethnic enclaves were now fully assimilated into second-and-third generation communities, and many of the old bigots were deceased. The culture of Marin County was changing. Many in the Beatnik generation and hippies from the 1960s brought forth a new language and a new outlook on life. Old conservative ways of seeing the world hadn’t disappeared but they were losing favor to a younger generation. Vietnam veterans, like myself, were a new breed of cat, and highly independent thinkers. Notions of what was right or wrong were being re-defined. Although there wasn’t always unanimity among counter-culture advocates, their influence was beginning to have an impact on the country. As Bob Dillion said, “The times they were a-changing.” And out of this re-evaluation of who we were as a people, the gay movement was born in New York City with the famous Stonewall riots of 1969. From these riots and protests, the Gay Liberation movement was born. Although I was a devout heterosexual, I began to get angry at the discrimination being perpetrated against gays and lesbians. It reminded me of how angry I felt in 1961 when James Meredith (a black U.S. Air Force military veteran) was initially barred from admission to the University of Mississippi. President Kennedy at that time had to send in federal troops and U.S. Marshals to quell riots in Oxford, Mississippi. 

       As one who wore his peace symbol and visited the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in 1967 during the “summer of love,” my attitudes were impacted by all that was going on. I was beginning to discard some of my conservative views on life.  Nevertheless, I walked a tightrope between valuing education, family and career and wanting to change the world. Although a Vietnam navy veteran, I began to oppose further escalation of the war in Vietnam.

      As a strong advocate of human rights, civil rights and personal freedoms I began to become at 23—an ultra liberal. But I still valued getting ahead in life in conventional ways. I soon realized there was no contradiction between conventional career pursuits and my newly-acquired ultra-liberal values. I didn’t have to “tune in and drop out” to effect social change. And I admit it—my personal need to succeed in a career was sometimes much stronger than my need to change the world, the latter need of which sometimes felt so overwhelming.

      It was a strange combination of being totally patriotic as an American, yet beginning to question everything from religion to politics. As an ex-navy combat veteran—I was too conservative to change all my values overnight. But my social and political philosophy did change. While I identified with liberals and with working within the system for social change, I did not identify with radicals. Coming out of the service I felt many in the radical movement were emotionally immature, lacked insight, and at times, were not the brightest of people. But I could see radicalism did serve a useful purpose. Radicals actually achieved moderate liberal goals because conservatives would appease liberals out of fear of radical social change. Moderates could achieve their goals because radicals frightened the conservatives in deference to less radical, yet equally important, social change.   

      At the time Harvey Milk was murdered in 1978, I was living in northern California. When the news hit the airways that Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk were killed I was really only familiar with the career of Mayor Moscone. Mayor Moscone was a good and decent man, who had his heart set on creating a more inclusive society, and most certainly, a more inclusive society in San Francisco.

      Just like Marin County, San Francisco was a city light years ahead of its time. Harvey Milk, we all came to realize, was a true visionary. The 1970s were a time of great social change. With courage and determination Harvey Milk took a leadership role in the gay liberation movement. Many people don’t know this but Harvey Milk was, in the 1960s, a U.S. Navy officer (Ltjg). And like all good ex-navy personnel, leadership just comes naturally to them. He knew the meaning underlying the navy lingo, “you have the deck and the con.”  It means you’re not only in charge of the ship while officer of the deck on the Bridge, but also responsible for the ship’s course. Harvey knew he was leadership material but he also knew how to set a course for the gay community in San Francisco, while maintaining a future vision for gay rights worldwide. 

 Early life

      Harvey Milk was born at the beginning of the Depression on May 22, 1930 in Woodmere, New York. He was the younger son of Lithuanian Jewish parents and the grandson of Morris Milk, who owned a department store. As a young boy Harvey was teased for his protruding ears, big nose, and oversized feet, and tended to grab attention as a school clown. He played football in school and developed a passion for opera; in his teens he acknowledged his homosexuality but kept it a guarded secret. In 1951 Harvey graduated from New York State College for teachers (Now known as State University of New York at Albany). Harvey majored in mathematics and had written for the college newspaper, earning a reputation for being gregarious, and friendly. After graduation, he joined the United States Navy during the Korean War. He served aboard the submarine rescue ship U.S.S. Kittiwake (ASR-13) as a diving officer. He later was transferred to San Diego where he served as a diving instructor. He was discharged in 1955 at the rank of lieutenant, junior grade (Ltjg).

     Between 1962 and 1969 Milk remained mostly in New York, where he had a few gay relationships. But in 1969 Milk came to California with his lover, Jack Galen McKinley, who was connected as stage manager with the Broadway touring company of Hair. When McKinley was offered a job to do Jesus Christ Superstar in New York, they broke up. Harvey preferred to stay in San Francisco.    

 Growing Awareness of Problems Facing the Gay Community

      Because of police brutality and targeting the gay community, San Francisco became a place of alienation like many other cities and townships in the United States. But, by 1969, San Francisco had more gay people per capita than anywhere else in the country. Soon politicians, recognizing the growing clout of the gay community in San Francisco began to court their vote.

     Organizations sprang up to counter the criminal behavior of the city’s police department, and because of the widespread anger of the gay community. They responded by supporting politicians favorable to the civil rights of gays and lesbians (People like Congressman Philip Burton, Assemblyman Willie Brown, Diane Feinstein, and Sheriff Richard Hongisto who worked tirelessly to change the anti-gay culture of the San Francisco Police Department).

       Milk, who owned Castro Camera, had his own troubles with a state sales tax bureaucrat. He was concerned when he learned that school equipment in local schools was woefully lacking, and he became frustrated with the “I don’t recall” replies during the Watergate hearings. Based on these concerns and the changing social climate in the Castro District, Harvey Milk made a decision to run for city supervisor.

      Although he wasn’t liked by “establishment gays” because he was an upstart, he soon curried support from some gay bar owners who were mad as hell with police harassment and unhappy with what they perceived as too timid a response by the Alice Club, a group known formally as the Alice B.Toklas Memorial Democratic Club. They decided to endorse Harvey Milk.

 Political Career

       The 1973 election was very telling. Milk garnered 16,900 votes sweeping the Castro District and other liberal neighborhoods. He came in 10th out of a field of 32 political candidates. It was reported that if the elections had been organized to allow districts to elect their own supervisors, he would have won.

      Milk became known as the Mayor of Castro Street, and had a natural ability to build coalitions. He helped the Teamsters organize a strike against the Coors beer distributors in exchange with the hiring of more gay drivers. He also became president of the Castro Village Association that organized gay business owners and he organized the Castro Street Fair of which 5,000 people were in attendance.

      He ran again for supervisor in 1975 with the support of the Teamsters, firefighters, and construction unions. This time he came in 7th place. He later ran in 1976 for State Assembly but was defeated by 4,000 votes. Harvey soon co-founded the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club. By 1976, the New York Times ran a story on the veritable invasion of gay people into San Francisco, estimating that the city’s gay population at between 100,000 and 200,000 out of a total of 750,000.

      The Castro Valley Association had grown to 90 businesses and the observation was made that the broader national historical forces going on with gay rights was fueling Harvey Milk’s campaign to become supervisor. Harvey Milk was not a one-issue candidate. He also was promoting larger and less expensive child care facilities, free public transportation, and the development of a board of civilians to oversee the police. As it turned out Milk won election as supervisor by 30% against a field of sixteen other candidates. At Milk’s swearing in ceremony (which made national headlines) he became the first openly gay non-incumbent man in the United States to win an election for public office.

      Since his race for California State Assembly, Milk had been receiving increasingly violent death threats. His demise would soon come about—but in a way that no one could have ever predicted.

 Harvey’s National Fight against Bigotry and Hatred

       Harvey Milk would continue to fight bigotry and hatred when religion raised its ugly face opposing gay rights. Christian fundamentalist Anita Bryant became the spokesperson in a campaign in 1977 to overturn a gay-sponsored civil-rights ordinance that made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal in Dade County, Florida. But voters bought into the nonsense of Bryant’s Save-Our-Children campaign and voted 70% to repeal the law.

      In response, over 3,000 Castro residents formed a protest the night of the Dade County ordinance vote. Milk led marchers that night on a five-mile course. Unfortunately, during 1977 and into 1978 other civil rights ordinances were overturned in places like Saint Paul, Minnesota, Wichita, Kansas and Eugene, Oregon. California wasn’t able to escape the hatred and bigotry either. This occurred when California State Senator John Briggs capitalized on Anita Bryant’s success by introducing Proposition 6 known as the Briggs Amendment. The proposed law would have made firing gay teachers—and any school employees who supported gay rights—mandatory. Harvey Milk and John Briggs subsequently debated the Proposition 6 issue up and down the state of California.

        It is perhaps ironic looking back now but opponents of gay rights like evangelical Anita Bryant and John Briggs were responsible for the most unexpected unintended consequence of their public campaigns and anti-gay messages. During this time in the summer of 1978 attendance at Gay Pride marches began to swell in Los Angeles and San Francisco. An estimated 250,000 to 375,000 attended the San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade. That consequence was to enlighten and educate the public, and bring national attention to the issue of gay rights as an important civil rights issue in America. Ronald Reagan, a staunch conservative but a strong believer in individual rights, came out against Proposition 6, as did Governor Jerry Brown and President Jimmy Carter. On November 7, 1978 Proposition 6 lost by more than a million votes, astounding gay activists on election night. In San Francisco, 75 percent voted against it.   

The Supreme Sacrifice

       Ten months after being sworn in Supervisor Dan White resigned his position complaining that his salary as a supervisor wasn’t enough to support his family. Within days White requested Mayor Moscone to re-appoint him to the position, which he initially agreed to do. However, other supervisors talked Moscone out of reappointing White.       

       Days later on November 27th Mayor Moscone was going to publicly announce Dan White’s replacement at a press conference. Dan White entered through a basement window to avoid metal detectors and made his way to Moscone’s office. After some shouting Dan White murdered the mayor by pumping two bullets into his shoulder and chest. With the mayor lying on his office floor, Dan White then fired two additional shots into Moscone’s head.  White then went to his office where he re-loaded his police-issue revolver with hollow-point bullets. He soon intercepted Harvey Milk. White asked Milk to come into his office where he shot Harvey five times. Of the five shots, two were fired at close range into the head of Harvey Milk. Dan White, at his wife’s urging, later turned himself in. Milk was 48 years old and Moscone 49 years old at the time of their murders.

 A Legacy of Tributes, Awards and Honors

      In 2009, Gay rights advocate Harvey Milk was inducted to The California Museum’s California Hall of Fame. Governor Schwarzenegger also designated May 22nd as Harvey Milk Day in California. As mentioned earlier, Harvey also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2009. Milk was named by Time Magazine in their list of 100 Heroes and Icons of the 20th Century.

      Local honors have also been bestowed on Harvey Milk as well. The City of San Francisco paid tribute to Milk by naming several locations after him including where Castro and Market streets intersect. An enormous Gay Pride flag flies in Harvey Milk Plaza. And, The San Francisco Gay Democratic Club changed its name to the Harvey Milk Memorial Democratic Club in 1978. It is now known as the Harvey Milk Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Democratic Club.

      Perhaps the greatest legacy a person can have is to have demonstrated during his life what he stood for. Harvey Milk was a caring individual who stood for making government responsive to the individual, gay liberation, and the importance of neighborhoods in the city.

 [Most of the facts on Harvey Milk presented in this Blog were obtained from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.]

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Proposition 8: The Strategy Going Forward

 

 

     It is clear that as the dust settles on Proposition 8 in California, a new strategy is needed on several fronts to fight for the civil rights of all our citizens, including Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender citizens. In addition, the strategy needs to be coordinated and it needs to be comprehensive.

 

     As we all know now, legal efforts to invalidate Proposition 8 have moved forward and the courts will soon have to act. Everyone who voted against Proposition 8 on November 4th can help and should be part of the solution. This issue of gay marriage rights is not an issue that divided gays and straights. On the contrary, when nearly half the electorate in California voted against Proposition 8, it signaled convincingly for the first time the existence of the largest coalition of gays and straights ever assembled in a common cause. It was democracy and diversity at its best. 

 

     Those of us that are part of this coalition are at the “idea stages” of forming the new strategy that is needed. So what are some of the ideas that are needed? I am just one person with a few ideas but here are some of them:

 

  • The political pressure needs to continue unabated from now until the courts decide this issue in our favor once and for all. Just as before, there needs to be concerted efforts to organize large “million-man” and woman  marches in large cities throughout the United States including Washington, D.C. Members of congress supportive of the civil rights of LGBTs should be invited to speak at rallies and other events. The press coverage would likely be thorough and comprehensive.
  • One supportive group should step up and take the helm and steer the ship for all other groups. Determining which group should take the leadership role will be difficult but not impossible.
  • Educational literature supporting LGBT rights needs to be promulgated into all communities emphasizing a common need for civil rights to be protected. Given the voting pattern in California on Proposition 8, there needs to be an extensive education to enlighten communities on the importance of protecting everyone’s civil rights. Communities with the highest percentage of “Yes” votes on Proposition 8 should be the primary target zones.
  • There should be a plan to identify all businesses, individuals, and communities that monetarily supported California’s Proposition 8. Proposition 8 was symptomatic of hate-crimes directed toward a particular segment of our society.  Americans have a long tradition of protecting civil rights and therefore hate crimes of any sort need to be fought against.  People who monetarily support these subtle types of hate crime need to be identified as violating the civil rights of others. 
  • Boycotting has often been a successful method of altering public opinion. I suggest limiting spending in all California Counties and local communities who supported a “yes” vote on Proposition 8.   Tourist dollars can be withheld by restricting travel to these counties and communities. To the extent possible, goods and service purchases should be restricted and directed to those counties who better understand the civil rights of citizens.  The north central counties, San Joaquin valley counties, the southern California counties and those along the eastern side of the state (with the exception of Alpine and Sierra counties) all voted in favor of the proposition.  
  • Church members who voted against Proposition 8 should work actively to alter their church’s attitudes.  If necessary, they should decline monetary support for their church in anyway, shape, or form. People can worship without supporting hate and bigotry.
  • Those in leadership positions in the LGBT and straight community need to come forward and promote the positive reasons for equality and harmony in social relations. More educational efforts need to be enacted to reach out to the more progressive churches and progressive communities in the state. Public service messages need to be promoted that rewards these churches and communities for their positive civil rights stances, and a willing openness to support LGBT citizens.

 The LGBT community needs to get better organized.  A strong coalition of gay and lesbian organizations should be formed.   An alliance will make organized efforts easier and more apt to be successful.  People will be more likely to give monetary contributions to a large organized, recognized LGBT alliance. This is important because a large war chest of contributions will be needed to meet such future goals as: political campaigning, education efforts, television and radio commercials and, if necessary, hiring of professional political Lobbyists.  Lobbyists can work with getting legislators of all persuasions to actively support LGBT rights and issues and to pass more effective hate crime legislation.

       

     In summary, the time has come for a sophisticated carefully crafted set of strategic plans for fighting discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender citizens. The way ahead will have many challenges but they must be overcome. I don’t think that naïve individuals voting “Yes” on Proposition 8 realized the storm of protest and anger that would be generated among their fellow citizens.

 

    Americans feel strongly about their civil rights and this proposition felt like a step backward in our quest.  Civil rights is everyone’s responsibility. Discrimination is legally and morally wrong.  Supporters of Proposition 8 should not take their own civil rights for granted. Everyone’s civil rights are fragile and runs the risk of vanishing when any one group is denied them. No one’s civil rights should be left unprotected in this sometimes chaotic and unpredictable society.   If even one of us is denied our civil rights, so too the rest may not be far behind.  

 

     

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