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My Favorite Presidential Candidate

Quito, Ecuador.

The candidate I’m voting for acknowledges that forgiving and forgetting U.S. war crimes has not worked. They continue to haunt and hamper us. Former administration officials who lied us into war in Afghanistan and Iraq must be brought to justice. We need to know who falsified the intelligence and why. Remember their catchy slogan: “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”?

Hundreds of thousands have died and many innocents continue to suffer for this cynical deception.

Those officials must include Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Libby, Feith, Wolfowitz, Powell and their many minions. We need open sessions, nothing in secret. Let’s find out who colluded with the Saudis to allow the 9/11 massacre that killed thousands and terrified the rest of us into accepting the Patriot Act and other limitations of our liberties. That’s true terrorism and treason of a high order.

We cannot move forward as a nation until we acknowledge and deal with the mistakes of the past. Ask the Germans. They’re still coming to terms with National Socialism. We must grapple with our own moral and political transgressions. We too must vow: Never again! Blindness invites repetition and spiritual rot. “How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?”

Government policies of torture, imprisonment without due process, renditions and assassinations demean our democracy. That’s not what our country was founded to accomplish. But it’s what we have become. It’s not enough to end those vile practices. We must punish the perpetrators, many of whom are still in power or safe behind their privileges. We need to clean house.

My favorite candidate understands that if our own institutions are too compromised or cowardly to deal with the war crimes of our own former officials, we should send them to The Hague. The World Court is an appropriate venue. Their crimes stretch across the globe.

It’s also time to pardon those brave few who exposed government misdeeds to the public gaze. John Kiriakou has already served his sentence for exposing CIA torture. He should be pardoned, along with Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers. They are modern Paul Reveres, alerting us to attacks on our integrity and personal sovereignty from within our own government. The Apache helicopter crew who murdered civilians in the video Manning showed the world ought to be prosecuted. As should Edward Clapper, for lying to Congress about NSA spying on Americans.

It’s time to pull in our military horns internationally. We are the leading purveyors of death and destruction on this planet. We must beat our swords into ploughshares and focus on environmental problems, including pollution, climate change and hunger, that we have caused and that war only exacerbates. The only winners in war are the arms makers, who own too many of our legislators.

My candidate knows we need to cut the defense budget by ten percent a year, every year, for the next decade. Let’s honor our troops by removing them from harm’s way. Our country is literally falling apart without major investments in infrastructure and education. If we gut our children’s futures there won’t be much left worth fighting for. Our watchword must be sustainability, not annihilation. My nominee will take the No More Drones pledge. Nearly three thousand people, including many children, have been murdered by our drones, a dreadful carnage with little media coverage or official remorse.

Senator Bernie Sanders has said anyone he nominates to the Supreme Court must agree to vote against Citizens United. In fact, Congress needs to outlaw corporate funding for candidates immediately after the 2016 election. We ought to follow the British example: limit campaign durations and expenditures. The waste is obscene and the results have been mediocre at best.

While we’re at it, let’s ditch the Electoral College and honor the popular vote. No more Bush v. Gore, decided late at night by a cowardly, unsigned SCOTUS majority. Our 2000 presidential election was a judicial coup, not an honest process. The whole world knows it. But U.S. media never copped to it.

My presidential pick realizes that we must purge the U.S. Senate of dead-weight corporate pet dinosaurs like Orrin Hatch and John McCain. Three terms and you’re out. Enough already. Get a life.

My favorite candidate knows we need to reinstate stringent regulations on the financial sector. The notion of “too big to fail” is false and obscene. Banks exist to serve government and the people, not vice versa. Vulture capitalism that enriches the few at the expense of the many will not stop of its own accord.

More and more the United States resembles a despotic backwater, where the rich live behind walls, Mad Max urban wastelands blight the lives and hopes of the impoverished majority and police murder unarmed minorities with impunity. Of thee I sing?

The candidate I back will want to tax religious organizations or individuals who take political positions. If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, religion is often the first. “Christian” hucksters, like Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, Bryan Fisher, Mike Huckabee et. al., who advocate curtailing the freedoms of other religions or women or non-white races or homosexuals or other gender identities, should have their properties and personal incomes taxed.

Bigotry and hate speech are incitements to public disorder, not theological positions. Bestowing the ironic sobriquet of “reverend” on yourself does not give you cover to demean others. Self-styled hate-peddling faux Christians are the first individuals Jesus would disavow. But we don’t have to await his return to do it ourselves.

My favorite presidential candidate knows there’s a long list of changes America needs to make to get its groove back. And we don’t have all the time in the world. Plant and animal species are disappearing from our Earth every day even as we continue to discover new ones. My candidate feels the urgency.

If he or she will only make their presence known, I’m ready to donate my time and my money.

James McEnteer’s most recent book is Acting Like It Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty DepartmentHe lives in Quito, Ecuador.

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James McEnteer’s most recent book is Acting Like It Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty DepartmentHe lives in Quito, Ecuador.

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