I believe.

I believe that everyone has the right to voice their opinion. I believe in the right to disagree. I believe that “freedom of speech” comes with responsibilities and should lead to consequences if abused, and therefore I believe in the right to publicly call someone out if they’re full of crap.

I believe that while our individual experience shapes our perception of reality, I also believe that there are such things as facts. I believe that every citizen has both the right and the responsibility to educate themselves (via several sources, preferably) on politics and the current issues affecting our nation. I also believe that if someone has spent their career studying something, we should give much greater weight to their understanding or explanation of that thing, than to someone who is not an expert.

I believe that we can, and should, legislate morality — “do not kill” being a prime example. I also believe that we shouldn’t be able to pick and choose what parts of morality we want to legislate. I believe that if we seek to legislate for or against issues — such as gay marriage, prayer in schools, or displaying the 10 Commandments in a courthouse — based on the argument that the nation was founded “as a Christian nation”, then by that same argument we should be willing to legislate on similarly Christian values such as giving to the poor and taking care of the Earth that God gave us. Incidentally, I believe that “freedom of religion” means that we shouldn’t legislate anything based on the values of one specific religion. I also believe that different religions have more in common than most people realize, and religion is not a necessary precondition of morality.

I believe that abortion is wrong. I also believe that I am not in a position to make that difficult decision for anyone else, and I would not want anyone else to make that decision for me. I believe that the most effective way to lower the number of women who would seek an abortion is to provide sex education and affordable, widely available contraception. I also believe that if we, as a nation, want to require a woman to carry a pregnancy to term, then we as a nation should also be willing to provide for all of her necessary medical care during that time. I believe that just as much as we care about the life of the child before it is born, we also need to care about the life of the child after it is born.

I believe in climate change, and I believe that human activity is at least partly responsible for it. I believe that we are doing ourselves and future generations a tremendous disservice by continuing to deny it. I believe that if we take action to combat climate change but it ends up being a hoax, we end up risking much, much less than if we continue to not take action and it turns out that climate change was real. I believe that we only have this one planet, and we need to do everything within our power to take care of it.

I believe that the “right to bear arms” for the defense of one’s family and property, or for the purposes of killing game, is a Constitutional right of the law-abiding citizen. I believe that with rights come responsibility, in this case including the requirement for stringent background checks, waiting periods, and safety training including conflict resolution. I believe that for the defense of one’s family and property or the purposes of killing game, a semi-automatic handgun, rifle, or shotgun is sufficient without the need for a high-capacity magazine; thus, I believe there is no need (and I would argue, no Constitutional mandate) for a private citizen to own military-grade weaponry. I also believe that gun violence is inextricably linked with mental health, and I believe that one of the surest ways to lower the prevalence of gun violence is to provide all citizens with affordable, widely accessible mental health care services.

I believe that many jobs which have disappeared in recent years are not coming back. I believe that as the economy becomes more globalized, and especially as more and more jobs become automated, more and more people will become jobless. I believe this is true for both blue-collar and white-collar workers. I believe that rather than placing all of our future hopes into the slim possibility that we can “bring jobs back” to the nation, we should be investing heavily into new technologies and worker re-training programs. I also believe that we as a nation should have a serious discussion about the concept of a “universal basic income”.

I believe that all people have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, and I believe that it is, in fact, the role and responsibility of the government to ensure these rights for all citizens. I believe that it is incredibly difficult to pursue happiness if one is not afforded the same opportunities as everyone else, especially with respect to education, employment, and healthcare. I believe that we as a country have a long way to go towards equality on this front.

I believe in the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to voice their concerns with what they perceive to be the course of the nation or the government. I believe that telling such people that they ought to “sit down and shut up”, is itself a form of oppression. I believe that no matter how good we have it here, it could be better, and I believe that campaigning for equal rights here at home doesn’t detract from or mean that we don’t also care about equal rights in the rest of the world. I believe that anybody who feels that we already have equal rights here at home should count themselves fortunate that they aren’t affected by these issues, and should strive to understand that not everyone is so fortunate.

I believe that the office of the president deserves respect. I believe that this does not necessarily mean that I should respect the actions or behavior of the person holding that office. I believe that anybody who would reprimand another person for “not respecting the president” should ask themselves whether they, in all honesty, have afforded that same level of respect to each and every president of this nation at all times. I believe that it is exactly as necessary to blame the president when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right, and to claim that there must be no criticism of the president is unpatriotic (to paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt).

I believe that we, as a people, have much more in common than not. I believe that a majority of us citizens want the same things: health and safety of ourselves and our families, financial security, freedom from what we perceive as government interference in our lives. I believe that our main disagreement lies in what we believe to be the best way to get there. I also believe that the majority of politicians, along with many news outlets, actively work to try to pit us against each other while distracting us from the things that really matter.

I believe that it is not one person or president who will “make America great again”, but rather we the citizens coming together to solve problems instead of continuing the downward trend of divisive party politics which cares more about “winning” than about doing what’s right for the nation. I believe that the only way we will move forward as a nation is if we all agree to look past party politics, stop the insults and name-calling, and try to understand each other’s viewpoints. I believe this nation was founded on compromise, but somehow along the way that word became synonymous with “working with the enemy”. I believe we need to fix that.

I believe we can do it. I believe in us. I believe in you.

I believe in America.

Image source: https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7110/7595931596_7e6c8695b2.jpg, tagged in Google Image Search as “labeled for noncommercial reuse”. If this is incorrect, please contact me and I’ll remove it. Thanks.