As a candidate for a U.S. public office in 2018 — or as someone currently occupying a U.S. public office, as the case may be — I pledge to support and advance these four aims:
- Ample funding for community-based violence prevention programs and enforced regulation of the manufacture, sale, transfer, and use of firearms.
- The non-violent resolution of international conflict and the abolition of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
- The sharp reduction of government military spending, and conversion from a military and fossil-fuel based economy to a sustainable economy that meets such civilian needs as health care, education, housing, mass transportation, renewable energy, and ending poverty.
- The provision of re-training and alternative employment for soldiers and military industry workers, enabling them to apply their experience and skills to civilian production.
In keeping with the above aims, I will not knowingly accept any campaign donations from military contractors or fossil fuel corporations.
Notes on the Four Aims of the Pledge (with links to additional information)
Aim #1. A report issued by the Giffords Law Center (founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords) concludes that, “To truly save lives and bring safety to communities, our leaders must focus on both the supply side of America’s gun violence epidemic—easy access to guns—and the demand side—the series of risk factors that make a person more likely to pick up a gun in order to do harm. Any comprehensive response to gun violence must have at its core a sustained investment in evidence-based prevention and intervention programs that directly address the root causes of violence. When this commitment to reducing risk factors is combined with strong, well-implemented gun laws, rates of violence plummet.”
Aim #2. The wars conducted by the United States in the 21st century have not led to justice, democracy, or security in any country. On the contrary, these wars have caused untold suffering and destruction. There is a better way: reliance upon diplomacy has been shown over and over again to solve problems more successfully than violence or the threat of violence. In countering terrorism too, non-violent approaches are likely to prove more effective than violent ones. It is evident as well that violent policy abroad is mirrored in domestic violence – in the abusive exercise of authority in the nation’s policing and prison systems for instance, and in the prevalence of gun violence in the United States.
“If you use weapons of war to bring about peace, you’re going to have more war and destruction.” – Coretta Scott King
“Setting a good example is a far better way to spread ideals than through force of arms.” — Congressman Ron Paul
Following World War II, nuclear bombs were built whose use would be far more catastrophic than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “The weapons of war,” commented John F. Kennedy, must be abolished before they abolish us.” Chemical and biological weapons, whose use could also kill millions of people, should be abolished too.
Aim #3. The U.S. military-industrial complex is by far the largest supplier of weapons and military services to the world. Conversion to a peace economy will halt this export of the means of death and destruction. Dwight D. Eisenhower pointed out that “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
Aim #4. There are many soldiers and workers in military industry who, if given the opportunity, might gladly exchange their current employment – which they themselves recognize as not entirely in keeping with their own values – for civilian employment that really meets people’s needs. In their study, The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities, Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier, who are economists at the University of Massachusetts, have shown that “investments in clean energy, health care and education create a much larger number of jobs across all pay ranges…. Channeling funds into clean energy, health care and education in an effective way will therefore create significantly greater opportunities for decent employment throughout the U.S. economy than spending the same amount of funds with the military.” Ample funding should support veterans, paying for their education, job training, housing, and health care.
We note, finally, that militarism generates vast wealth for the fossil fuel industry. Nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries around the world subsidize this industry by buying enormous amounts of fossil fuel used for jet fighters, tanks, and transportation of personnel and equipment. The U.S. military is in fact the greatest polluter in the world. See this report: Militarism and Climate Change.