Why I am Running
As introduced in the Homepage, I am running to represent Vermont as an Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate in the upcoming November 2010 General Election because our system has lost much of its sense of fair play so that life is needlessly difficult and less satisfying for most Americans, including Vermonters, than it has to be. We need to restore fairness and reasonableness in the way we share our wealth, provide health care, use energy and treat the environment, address poverty in the developing world, and aim for an enlightened security by strengthening our moral foundation. Stepping up to these challenges would benefit all Vermonters but has not been accomplished because those in power have not advocated for them with sufficient resolve or fresh perspective.
I have a deep and uncompromising passion to have a positive impact on people’s lives, and commitment, energy, focus, and knowledge to wage the right tough fights. I have been in public service for thirteen years as an active duty officer in the U.S. Navy and currently serve as a Captain in the U.S. Navy Select Reserves. I am a physician with specialization in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, and an Associate Professor of Medicine and Surgery. I have experience in medical education and drug and vaccine research and development. I completed medical residency at University of Vermont, and practiced Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine in Vermont. Four of my five children received their education in part in Vermont schools. I believe my experience in government service and medicine, from outside the political system, and without political allegiances or debts, provides a unique background and perspective to work to try to regain the essence of the strength of our democracy — fair play.
No nation has positively influenced mankind to the extent the U.S. has in its short history. This is not surprising. Our origins are based on a spirit of adventure, self-reliance, innovativeness, and sharing in the new and wonderful but sometimes hostile land. No wonder the rule of law, decency, fairness, and reasonableness became essential morals and characteristics of the American people. Our founding fathers were so in-tune to a political system grounded on fair play that they included pursuit of happiness as an inalienable right in the Declaration of Independence. What a concept?! But if pursuit of happiness is a right, equal opportunity to pursue happiness must be a right as well.
I believe the United States’ strength has been its ability to consider domestic and world issues maturely and morally and to decide on courses of action that are based on principles of fairness and reasonableness. We have succeeded most and been most effective and positive when our decisions were based primarily on principles of morality rather than exclusive self-interest. Thus, we were able to overcome the unreasonableness of the Gilded Age in the early part of the twentieth century with the New Deal; of fascism with the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II; and of racial inequity with incorporation of civil rights for all into American policy.
Not that we have never veered from moral principles. We have erred in domestic policies — including inadequate resolution of race, gender, and economic inequity, and inadequate protection of the environment. We have erred in international policies—including pursuit of inconsistent and sometimes self-serving policies and insufficient sharing of our wealth and capabilities to alleviate poverty and disease. But at the same time, we have corrected our course with respect to civil rights and gender inequity. We have further work to do to consolidate these gains but the election of Barack Obama and near election of Hilary Clinton for President, confirm progress.
I believe, in principle, Democrats have been on the right side of these issues. However, those with political power within the current system, including Democrats, have allowed the flawed system to develop. Whether they agreed with the policies or not, they have accepted loss of a reasonable, fair, and progressive tax system; they have accepted unreasonable and short-sighted energy and environmental policies; and they have accepted insufficient American effort to alleviate poverty and misery in developing countries, conditions that contribute to terrorism and international economic and political instability. Those in power are likely to accept continuation of the status quo or minimal incremental improvements, resulting in significant security and quality of life threats to the U.S.
The election of President Obama has tilted public policy in the right direction. I believe the President supports the transformational changes advocated by this campaign but he is hampered by obstruction on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue. To meaningfully improve the lives of Americans, including Vermonters, and others, we need congressional representation, particularly in the Senate, with passion and commitment to achieving transformational changes in these key issues of the twenty-first century. We have no time to wait any longer.
Our economic system has migrated from one with a balanced distribution of wealth and a strong vibrant middle class to one that is blatantly unfair to the average American, making life easy and often luxurious for a minority of Americans, and unnecessarily difficult for the majority (see Economic policy). It is simply wrong to have a tax system in which wealthy Americans have a lower prorated tax burden than middle-income Americans. The income tax, in combination with social security withholdings, has migrated from being progressive to being almost regressive; tax on capital gains, a major component of income of high- but not middle income Americans, is unconscionably low; and employer-based health insurance is deducted equally irrespective of income. These tax policies do not make sense, are indecent, and are un-American.
No wonder there are insufficient funds for necessary government services, national debt has soared, and property taxes are excessive. There simply are not enough funds to go around unless revenue is increased by increasing taxes on those who can afford to pay them. I am running because I want to do everything I can to try to restore a fair and progressive tax system, akin in spirit to what we had during much of the affluent years of the twentieth century. Some leaders acknowledge this economic inequity yet accept the status quo or incremental changes because of inertia and intellectual justifications. Conversely, I believe with committed leadership, economic inequity can be resolved while maintaining prosperity and the American Dream. I believe the first step is implementation of universal health care insurance (see Health care). But fixing this inequity is not enough. Why shouldn’t those who succeed most in our society share more to make it easier for all? Is it reasonable that a corporate executive making millions of dollars per year pays a lower percent of his or her income in taxes than does his or her secretary making $30,000 per year? It doesn’t make sense and it is unsettling to know that our leaders have allowed this to happen. We need to restore a fair and progressive income tax, with significantly increased marginal tax rates (highest brackets) for high-income earners (e.g., above $350,000 per year). Additionally, we should equilibrate the regressive social security withholding limit and the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance.
Some leaders acknowledge the ravishes of our energy system on the environment, climate, jobs, and our national wealth and security yet accept the status quo or incremental changes because of inertia and intellectual justifications. Conversely, I believe that with committed leadership, clean energy, green jobs, energy independence and security, and better quality of life are achievable (see Environment and Energy). Why shouldn’t the U.S. divest itself of foreign oil dependence in the next twenty years? To achieve this goal, why shouldn’t we transform the energy sources of our power plants from carbon fuels to clean renewable solar, wind, geothermal, recycled waste, and other emerging sources? Why shouldn’t the U.S. have the most modern, convenient, and safe mass transit systems in the world in every major city? Why shouldn’t every building be equipped with alternative energy sources (e.g., solar water heaters)? Why shouldn’t federal standards force manufacturers to produce energy-efficient and low carbon-emitting automobiles and appliances, and our tax system forcefully encourage their purchase? Why shouldn’t our tax policy forcefully encourage Smart Development and Smart Design to increase energy efficiency and decrease consumption, decrease commuting and traffic, increase expendable income, and improve quality of life? Why shouldn’t the U.S. become the world’s leader in green energy and grow millions of high-paying skilled jobs to accomplish this goal?
Some leaders acknowledge the scourges of poverty, disease, malnutrition, and illiteracy in developing countries yet accept the status quo or incremental changes because of inertia and intellectual justifications. Conversely, I believe with committed leadership, the cycle of poverty and disease and secondary destabilization and breeding grounds for terrorism can be broken (see Poverty in the developing world). To achieve this goal, for example, why shouldn’t the U.S. commit to leading a program to help developing countries eliminate preventable diseases with vaccinations routinely available in the developed world? Why shouldn’t the U.S. commit to leading a program to help developing countries achieve transformational increases in access to clean water, septic systems, and electricity?
I have no illusions about the difficulty of achieving transformational changes but promise to try. I also have no illusions about the difficulty of this task or the measure of the Senator I am running against or his legacy. I have deep respect for my opponent who is a good man and has served our state commendably since the 1970s. But elections in Vermont are not coronations and a spirited debate of ideas, especially about issues of fairness which are too often marginalized, and about new twenty-first century solutions, will benefit all Vermonters. Vermont deserves and should expect leadership and forceful advocacy from its congressional delegation to ensure that prosperity and fairness truly coexist as key public policy objectives. As the saying goes, we can do good by doing good.
I again respectfully request that you consider voting for me in the upcoming General Election (Nov 2, 2010). All good movements require team work, effort, and resources. Therefore, please consider helping our fairness campaign with a Financial contribution, by Volunteering, and also by deliberating about these issues in your own life.
|© Copyright 2009 Daniel Freilich
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