O'Malley on Dr. King's warning
After a serious but upbeat presentation in a Concord backyard, Martin O'Malley got out a guitar and sang a chorus of "This Land is Your Land," with the crowd joining in. He's got a lot of charm, with energy, enthusiasm, and a sense of public purpose thrown in. It's evident that he enjoys campaigning. It was almost like being in summer camp!
I was lucky enough to be the first questioner, and I asked him about Dr. King's warning that a nation that spends more on national defense than on programs of social uplift faces spiritual death. O'Malley replied that the warning is worth taking seriously, stating that our foreign policy should put diplomacy, negotiation, and development aid ahead of force of arms, adding that boots on the ground in the Middle East only creates the opposite of what the US hopes for that region.
His domestic presentation was far more extensive and specific, stressing job creation, a higher minimum wage, affordable housing, protection of labor's right to collective bargaining, an aggressive green energy development program, immigration reform that puts welcoming a diverse America ahead of mass detention and deportation, and anti-poverty and aid to education programs centered particularly in the cities. He added a pledge to fight income and wealth inequality, and pointed to his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, especially on the ground that it was being kept secret from the public. Along the way, he also added that to get things done, it's necessary to add relationship building to one's convictions and the merits of one's argument.
Another questioner, Rob, asked about profiteering from incarceration and war, which led O'Malley to comment that he had kept for-profit prisons out of Maryland and was opposed to them as a matter of principle. He pointed to his own record of having reduced both the incarceration and recidivism rates in his own state, arguing that the best way to close the revolving door to prison is by making sure those released can find jobs, a welcoming place to live, and transportation to get them to work. He linked the rising rate of heroin addiction in this country to lack of economic opportunity and widening inequality.
When asked about campaign finance reform, he said he would push for public financing of elections as an immediate remedy that he supported a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United and McCutcheon.
Finally, someone asked him where he would go for advice on foreign policy. He pointed out that that as head of the US Conference of Mayors and then as head of the US Governors' Association, he had consulted with top military and Homeland Security officials about protecting the nation. That's where I saw a contradiction creep in. If O'Malley believes that our foreign policy should stress negotiation and development over diplomacy by the sword, why didn't he mention talking with career diplomats and development experts?
Before his presentation, Judy was able to give him some information about the ongoing qualitative nuclear arms race and its rising speed and expense that has replaced the quantitative nuclear arms race of Cold War days.