Reposted from Dissent Magazine December 1, 2008
First, close Guantánamo Bay prison. A spate of recent articles has detailed the complexities of ending the grossly unconstitutional incarceration of alleged enemy combatants offshore. Others are in a far better position than I to propose legal solutions for the small number of truly dangerous characters, but I trust acceptable solutions—ones that balance security and constitutionality—can be found with far less damage to our international reputation and our own civil liberties traditions than we have suffered these last seven years.
Second, promote international women’s rights to education, economic security and independence, reproductive freedom, and protection from domestic abuse. The weakest part of Obama’s campaign platform was women’s rights. He made no high-profile speeches about women’s right to choose until the nomination was secured, and he failed to condemn the egregious sexism leveled during the primary season at Senator Clinton. The President-elect has begun to repair the breach by appointing Clinton as secretary of state, and I propose he encourage Hillary Clinton as secretary of state to make one of her chief goals the development of strong and consistent policy to assist women’s rights internationally. Clinton’s 1995 Beijing speech on “Women’s Rights as Human Rights” stands at the head of her foreign-policy credentials. Let us see her return to this theme.
Third, make increased funding for education a high priority. My own state of California is raising tuition at its universities and community colleges. I just came back from Washington State, where public university faculty talked of nothing but the across-the-board cut looming over their educational system. Students protest, as they should, but enormous state budget shortfalls cannot be wished away. States need federal help and an Obama administration should be ready to supply it. The good news is Obama seems to understand the education crises we face. His educational platform starts with a reform of No Child Left Behind that relieves teachers from the smothering burden of standardized testing, and it ends with a proposal of a $4000 Opportunity Tax Credit to help cover public higher education tuition in exchange for community service.
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