We the People: Week of August 23

Suit the action to the word and the word to the action

The presidential candidates agreed that on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks no campaign ads will be aired. The campaign is degenerating into an orgy of demagoguery sustained with an obscene amount of campaign money.

A problem with a truce is that neither candidate can control the PACs, Super Pacs and 501[c] 4 organizations producing the most offensive and least reliable propaganda. Where the candidates stand on important issues like fiscal responsibility, consumer protection, social welfare reform and immigration policy is more important than propaganda which is directed, not at facts, but at emotions.

This is true for local political races, too. The people must resist manipulation and talk to each other about issues. If we do not discuss issues and demand answers, then our democratic society, the cradle for liberty, is in danger.

The people of France gave the people of the United States the Statue of Liberty more than 125 years ago. Incredibly, the money to build the colossus was raised privately by the French people while the money for the pedestal was raised by the American people.

It is fitting that it is dedicated not to a government but to an idea that is uniquely linked to our nation. It is still the quintessential American value. Lady Liberty lifts a lamp before the door of freedom. Every day, she reminds us to be on guard against the insidious encroachment of dictatorial power which, at times, is disguised as homeland security regulation.

We need greater police power to combat domestic and foreign threats but we should never accept it without question. We became a great nation because of our dedication to liberty. We became a greater one due to the contributions of our immigrant citizens. We need an immigration policy that allows hard-working and courageous immigrants to become American citizens.

President Obama announced a program to provide a way for young immigrants who live in the United States to become documented. A temporary program called “deferred action” allows a qualified immigrant to get a work permit that lasts for two years. The immigrant must be less than 31 years of age, have immigrated before turning 16, resided continuously in the United States, have no felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions, and pose no threat to public safety.

There are many “illegal” immigrants that due to their actions or behavior are unwelcome, but there are many more who work hard and live good lives in this land of liberty. The issue of illegal immigration is overdue for attention. This program is a step in the right direction.

We still need a national plan for gun regulation. Senator Golden proposed legislation specifically to punish people who hold weapons for criminals. We need gun regulation that controls the flow of dangerous weapons (semi-automatic, assault style and military weapons) into New York from across the nation. We need to attack the sources that stock the arsenal of destruction.

Senator Golden’s campaign manager countered criticism of his client’s lack of substantive action on gun regulation with a personal attack on the challenger, Andrew Gounardes. He stated that Andrew Gounardes doesn’t have the qualifications to be a New York State senator.

Really! A college graduate who grew up in the community, went to law school and works as an attorney advocating for our citizens is unqualified for office? This is political obfuscation at its worst. When you don’t like the issue, you attack the person.

The criticism is base. It is also ironic since Golden gladly accepted the support of New York State Senator Carl Kruger in his first campaign for the Senate.

The corrupt and disgraced Kruger had an unsavory ethical reputation even in 2002. This “out-of-touch” criticism isn’t a surprise since it comes from the same person who substitutes talk about imaginary “millionaire tenants” in Manhattan for action on behalf of Bay Ridge tenants.

It is time for a change and a breath of fresh air. If we are to preserve our wonderful experiment in liberty for our next generation, we need to find representatives responsive to the needs of the people and willing to work for them.

Brian Kieran is an attorney who works as a Principal Law Clerk in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Kings County and is a Democrat.

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