It’s time we stop treating the symptoms of our failed policies and instead find long-term solutions to fix our country’s systemic ills.
Policy should be dictated by people, not profits.
Modernize Gun Laws
While our nation is busy debating the intention of a centuries-old document, gun violence is dominating our national headlines. By ensuring that all gun sales and transfers require licensure of both parties, completion of background checks, and registration in a national firearms database, we can help prevent sales to those dangerous or violent individuals, including through straw purchasing. It will be illegal to sell, transfer, or otherwise provide firearms to someone who has a history of violence or domestic abuse, or who has been identified by a physician as having the potential for violence or self-harm. We will redefine who qualifies as a firearms dealer, and have stronger minimum requirements for all dealers and transactions, including employee background checks, videotaped transactions, and immediate reporting of theft and loss.
Protect Reproductive Rights
If we want to lower abortion rates in our country, instead of giving the government control over women’s bodies, we should be trying to prevent the number-one cause of abortion: unintended pregnancy. By making comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education part of the science curriculum, so that students can learn about reproductive biology in an honest, nonjudgmental environment, we arm them with knowledge that can help them avoid the unintended consequences of unprotected sex, including unplanned pregnancies. It is also important that we support a comprehensive healthcare system where reproductive health meets preventative medicine and safe contraception is free and accessible. And in the case of an unplanned pregnancy, a woman and her doctor must be given the autonomy to make the best medical choice for her, without government interference.
Addiction is a medically recognized disease. So why do we treat it like a crime? By decriminalizing nonviolent individual drug use and making addiction treatment free and accessible, we can prioritize rehabilitation instead of punishment. The positive effects would be threefold: less overcrowding in our prisons, less disproportional incarceration of low-income and minority populations, and more widespread and effective treatment of this devastating chronic illness.
Our country was founded on immigration, and we should celebrate the diversity it brings to our communities and workplaces. In fact, multiple studies have shown that the United States benefits economically from immigration. As the US population gets older, responsibly increasing immigration is the most efficient way to keep our workforce vibrant and our tax base dynamic. So we must make immigration a safe, legal, and realistic choice for people who want to live and work here—including those who are already here with no clear path to citizenship. By abolishing ICE and private detention centers, and treating unauthorized entry into our country as a civil matter rather than a crime, we can redirect that funding to develop jobs and infrastructure for efficient processing of immigration cases. We need a system that spends resources on processing instead of searches and seizures, so cases can conclude in weeks and not months.
End Prison Profiteering
Justice shouldn’t be pay to play, yet countless Americans charged with minor offenses are lingering behind bars just because they can’t afford bail. Meanwhile, the for-profit prison model incentivizes incarceration over rehabilitation. No wonder the United States has more people behind bars than any other country for which statistics are available. By reserving pretrial detentions for those perceived to be a danger to themselves or others, and by treating addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal issue, we can greatly reduce our prison population and close up private prisons once and for all.
Invest in Education
Investing in our communities begins with our public schools. Every student deserves access to a good public education, and every public school deserves equal public investment. Public schools that are appropriately funded, with talented, dedicated teachers who are appropriately paid, are better equipped to serve their unique communities and will make those communities more cohesive. Redirecting tax dollars from public schools to private-school vouchers only widens the divide between two extremes: expensive non-community-based schools and underfunded public schools. With vouchers, we are treating the symptoms of a broken education system, when we should be fixing the underlying problems.